Southwest CEO urges TSA to add temperature scans to screening checks

May 6, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Will travelers soon have to submit to a temperature check in addition to emptying their your pockets before going through screening at U.S. airport security checkpoints?

That’s what at least one prominent airline CEO would like to see.

“We’re urging the TSA … to begin temperature scans as part of the screening process at the checkpoints,” Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said morning during a Wednesday morning interview with “CBS This Morning.”

Kelly appeared on the network morning to highlight safety updates the carrier has made in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It was part of a broader message to reassure passengers that it’ll be safe to return to the skies. With demand currently at near-zero in the U.S. and elsewhere, that’s something Southwest and other airlines will need to have happen if they’re to staunch the financial carnage hitting carriers across the globe.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news

As the CEO of the nation’s top carrier of domestic travelers, Kelly’s words come with influence. And he’s not the only prominent airline CEO to say health screenings could become part of the flying experience in the wake of coronavirus.

“We will make whatever changes to the business model that will be necessary,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said in late April, suggesting that what he called “immunity passports” could be a requirement for travelers.

He continued: “Could there be a new public health agency coming out that requires a new passport to travel? I don’t know but we’ll be on the forefront of all those advances.”

While the industry figures out what’s next on the health front, Southwest’s Kelly took the opportunity of Wednesday’s interview to say what his carrier has been doing so far.

More: Delta CEO raises prospect of ‘immunity passports’ for air travel

Kelly said Southwest is installing plexiglass shields at check-in counters and noted flyers will see that at TSA checkpoints, too.

Kelly also said the airline has increased efforts to disinfect and clean planes, though he acknowledged that effort only goes so far if sick passengers board a plane.

“That’s why I think leading up to that — wash your hands, don’t come to the airport if you’re sick. Let’s do temperature screening,” he said to CBS. “Ultimately, obviously, the solution is to have testing, therapeutics, a vaccine.”

More: Which US airlines are blocking middle seats, requiring masks?

Additionally, Southwest – like Delta and Alaska airlines – is capping ticket sales so that planes don’t fly full. That will help passengers social distance by ensuring there are enough empty seats to go around.

But, even there, he noted that’s not a perfect solution either, instead telling CBS that a “multi-layered approach” is needed.

“We’ll have wipes on the airplane that each customer can take,” Kelly said. “Requiring masks on the airplane are important because you won’t necessarily all be six feet apart.”

What’s next? Flying after coronavirus: Health screenings in airports and emptier planes

More practically, he also acknowledged Southwest can’t cap ticket sales forever.

“Our breakeven load factor was somewhere in the 60-70% range. … Can we do that indefinitely? No.”

Featured photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

More: With 95% of flyers grounded, what it’s like flying in the U.S. right now?

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.