Los Angeles International plans passenger temperature screenings

Health, Fitness & Food

A police car is parked outside Tom Bradley Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, April 16, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Valerie Macon | AFP | via Getty Images

Los Angeles International Airport will start piloting thermal scanning of passengers on Tuesday, a trial that aims to identify passengers with fevers, a symptom of Covid-19, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday.

The trial is voluntary and will last at least two months, an airport spokesman said. The scanners will be at Tom Bradley Terminal, which has a high number of international flights, in both departure and arrival areas, Garcetti said. 

Departing passengers will be told by staff that they should not travel if they register temperatures of over 100.4 degrees. Arriving travelers will be referred to staff from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention if they register temperatures that high.

“To be clear, these thermal camera temperature checks will not replace other safety measures,” Garcetti said in a webcast. “This is an additional layer of safety.”

The aviation industry is struggling from Covid-19’s devastating impact on air travel, which has pushed airlines to their first losses in years. While air travel has recovered from more than five-decade lows hit in April as states have reopened and summer travel season kicked off, demand is still down about 80% from a year ago, according to data from the Transportation Security Administration.

Airlines have scrambled to come up with ways to ease travelers’ concerns about the virus and to protect crews. While federal officials have recommended face coverings in places where it’s impossible to socially distance, it isn’t a government requirement. Carriers last month started mandating masks for passengers.

They have taken other steps too. For example, budget carrier Frontier Airlines this month started taking travelers’ temperatures and said if they register more than 100.4 or higher they won’t fly. United Airlines, for its part, this month started asking passengers questions about their health as they check in for their flights.

More than 88 million travelers passed through LAX last year, making it the world’s third-busiest airport after Atlanta and Beijing, according to Airports Council International.

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