U.S. Major Airlines Agree on Voluntary Contact Tracing

 - February 19, 2021, 1:16 PM

This story is part of AIN's continuing coverage of the impact of the coronavirus on aviation.

Members of Airlines for America (A4A) on Friday pledged to voluntarily participate in a passenger contract tracing program in an effort to convince U.S. lawmakers to relax international travel restrictions. Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines have all committed to collect contact tracing data from passengers traveling into the U.S. and transmitting that data to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The carriers have agreed to ask customers to voluntarily provide passenger names along with two telephone numbers, an email address, and addresses where travelers plan to stay in the country or of permanent residence.

“The implementation of a contact tracing program for international passengers is yet another measure in our multi-layered approach to mitigate risk and assure the traveling public that both U.S. airlines and the federal government are prioritizing the health and safety of passengers and crew,” said Airlines for America president and CEO Nicholas Calio. “We are hopeful that this measure, coupled with existing testing requirements for passengers flying to the U.S., will lead policymakers to lift travel restrictions so that international travel can resume and the social and economic benefits of that travel can be realized.”

Last December, Delta Air Lines became the first U.S. carrier to launch a voluntary contact tracing program for inbound international travelers. Days later United Airlines announced its own program, which began with inbound international passengers and extended to domestic and international outbound departures.

Last February the CDC issued a rule that would ostensibly mandate contact tracing by airlines but authorities never enforced it after the airlines balked, calling the plan unworkable because of their inability to collect the information from third-party websites.