Delta Air Lines on Tuesday began scanning passengers’ body temperatures at a terminal in Los Angeles International Airport in a three-week pilot program aimed at reducing the risk of coronavirus exposure when flying.
Delta won’t say whether it plans to extend the program to other U.S. airports, such as its Minneapolis-St. Paul hub. But it’s another move by the Atlanta-based airline that’s both a precautionary tool and a potential marketing weapon in the pandemic.
The body-temperature scan, happening at Terminal 2 in LAX, is an extension of a similar program at that airport’s Tom Bradley International Terminal begun in late June.
For the next three weeks, Delta will require all passengers beginning their travel at LAX or connecting from the international terminal to domestic flights at Terminals 2 or 3 to pass by thermal-imaging cameras. They are positioned at a security checkpoint in Terminal 2.
The cameras can read the temperatures of large groups of people at the same time. If an individual’s body temperature exceeds 100.4 Fahrenheit, the passenger will be denied boarding.
“As a part of our ongoing efforts to reduce the COVID-19 infection rate and provide additional layers of protection for our customers and employees, we are testing a temperature screening process for customers flying out of LAX Terminal 2,” the airline said in a statement, adding that 100.4 is the fever threshold established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
U.S. airlines’ passenger levels are a quarter of what they were at this time a year ago.
Delta, the largest airline at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, is trying to position itself as the airline with the highest standards of care during the pandemic, said Bob Mann, an airline consultant and former industry executive.
“[Delta Chief Executive Ed] Bastian seems to want to position Delta as the airline ‘in the bubble,’ so this is just one more element of that,” Mann said.
Delta said any customers unable to board based on their temperature reading will be rebooked to a different date or fully refunded the trip.