Leading US airlines will refund tickets for any passenger who is found to have an elevated temperature. But they will only do so if 2 conditions will be met. First, the elevated temperature must meet the definition in the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So if it doesn’t, your refund isn’t guaranteed even though you don’t have any control over how your temperature will be measured.
Second, the screening must have been conducted by federal authorities prior to your travel. In practice it must be an officer of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Thus, if you depart from an airport with private security your refund is not guaranteed either.
In addition to the temperature check of passengers US carriers require face covering. Both passengers and customer-facing employees must wear a mask covering their nose and mouth. They must do so throughout the journey: during check-in, boarding, in flight and deplaning. The airlines are actively enforcing their face covering policies.
Moreover, the carriers have implemented intensive cleaning protocols. In some cases they include electrostatic cleaning and fogging procedures. The airlines are also working to sanitize cockpits, cabins and key touchpoints with CDC-approved disinfectants. You may think of tray tables, arm rests, seatbelts, buttons, vents, handles and lavatories.
Furthermore, the airlines have their aircraft equipped with HEPA filters. The airline industry emphasizes that those filters are also used in hospital operating rooms. However, there is no unambiguous proof that HEPA filters protect passengers from the coronavirus.
US airlines only keep middle seats open if unsold seats allow for that. Several readers report that their domestic flights in the USA are packed. Passengers are sitting shoulder to shoulder with 3 persons on a row at each side of the aisle.
The carriers have also changed some procedures. In order to reduce interaction of cabin crew and passengers, they have adjusted food and beverage services. This sounds quite neutral, but may mean that you won’t get any food or drinks. We don’t know of any airline will compensate you at check-in with vouchers for food and drinks that you can use at the airport. Thus, it is just a spending cut.
Remember that you can’t pass security with liquids and certain food items. Therefore, you’d better ask the carrier about the service on board. If no service will be offered, you can buy food and/or drinks at the airport after having passed security.
Tags: temperature, coronavirus, face covering, cleaning protocols, packed flights