United will start asking for contact info in latest anti-coronavirus measure

Dec 16, 2020

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United Airlines is one-upping Delta in its latest anti-coronavirus measure.

The Chicago-based carrier announced Wednesday that it will begin phasing in a comprehensive contact-tracing initiative, aimed to help curb the spread of the COVID-19 after an infected flyer takes to the skies and possibly spreads the virus.

As part of the program, United is partnering with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to provide the agency with real-time contact information for flyers. If a positive case is tracked to a flight, the CDC, along with local health authorities, can then follow up with other passengers seated near the infected patient to provide further instructions, such as a possible quarantine or testing requirement.

United stresses that this program is completely voluntary, but you will be asked for your information at multiple points before departure, including when checking in on the mobile app, at united.com and at the airport.

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If you agree to provide your information, you’ll be asked for:

  • An email address
  • Phone number at your final destination
  • Address at your final destination
(Photo courtesy of United)

Beginning this week, United’s contact-tracing efforts will start with all international flights bound for the U.S. In the coming weeks, the airline will phase in both domestic and outbound international departures.

On Monday, Dec. 15, Delta became the first U.S. carrier to launch such an initiative. However, the Atlanta-based carrier has so far limited the data collection to inbound international flights, with no news yet on whether it will expand to include domestic and/or international departures.

As such, United’s program is poised to become even more comprehensive than Delta’s. “Initiatives like testing and contact tracing will play a significant role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available,” said United’s chief customer officer Toby Enqvist.

Related: Delta becomes first major carrier to launch contact-tracing initiative

It remains to be seen what percentage of customers will share their information. Without a critical mass, this initiative isn’t nearly as significant in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

Either way, with the second wave of COVID-19 spreading rapidly across the nation, every last effort counts.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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