Temperature Checks Are Not The Answer For Safe Flying

by joeheg

When the US economy tried to reopen, one of the almost universally implemented policies from businesses to keep employees and guests safe was the temperature check. While employees are usually subject to such checks, I find it hard to believe that every place I visit checks each employee’s temperature when showing up to work every day. Even more unlikely is a temp check for customers.

Here’s a snippet from the Hyatt website.

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Now the government has gotten into the mix with some lawmakers trying to force the TSA to perform temperature checks on all passengers before getting onto a plane.

I think it’s evident from the past week’s events that there’s no silver bullet to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Would preventing passengers with a fever from getting on a plane prevent a COVID-19 passenger from traveling? Could it also keep a passenger with a cold or the flu from flying? Probably.

This also doesn’t take into consideration that not all people with COVID-19 have a fever. You’re contagious for 1-2 days before you start to show symptoms in most cases. This also doesn’t prevent all passengers who have COVID-19 but are asymptomatic from getting on a plane.

And if you’re running a slight fever but still want to travel, what’s to prevent a passenger from taking a fever-reducing medication before getting to the airport?

The bill does try to address what happens if you’re denied clearing security because you have a fever.

To ensure customers are not penalized for getting sick, the bill would require airlines to allow any passengers denied entry to cancel or change their flight free of charge.

Does that mean you can change to any flight and not pay any difference in fare, or will you need to pay the difference between what you paid and the current price, which could be a significant amount?

Many people have said that the entire TSA checkpoint operation is more “security theater” than actual security. Having flown in airports worldwide, I’ve seen that everywhere has different rules and they all seem to have worked to keep terrorists from taking over planes.

I’m in the camp that a mandatory temperature check would be an additional layer of this illusion of safety. Saying that everyone has gone through a screen might make some people feel better about flying, but it’s not a surefire way to prevent passengers from spreading coronavirus. That will take a continued use of masks while onboard (worn properly and only removed for short periods of time), social distancing while in the airport and improved sanitary procedures that airlines have put into place. Having affordable and accurate rapid testing easily available to passengers would be another welcome piece of the puzzle.

Doing temperature checks is not a silver bullet. Spending hundreds of millions of dollars to install temperature screening devices in airports around the country, and requiring airlines to allow passengers to change flights if they fail the check, seems to be over the top when we already have other ways to control the spread of the coronavirus.

#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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