Delta Air Lines to begin contact tracing for international passengers

  • Delta Air Lines is introducing a voluntary contact tracing program for international arrivals to the US.
  • Passengers will be asked for their full name, email address, contact numbers, and address in the US to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • CEO Ed Bastian announced in the same memo that the airline will not achieve its goal of daily losses of $10 million for the fourth quarter and will fall short by up to $4 million. 
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Delta is taking on contact tracing in the skies as its latest initiative in the fight against COVID-19, becoming the first American carrier to do so, the airline announced on Thursday. 

International travelers inbound to the US will be asked to provide five pieces of information as part of the program that will aid health authorities in contact tracing efforts. Most of the information Delta is seeking is already required to book a flight and includes a passenger’s full name, primary and secondary phone numbers, address in the US, and email address.

Participation in the program is voluntary but can help notify passengers if they’ve been exposed to the virus in the course of their travels, as well as give local health authorities and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more data to help stop the spread. For flyers utilizing Delta’s new quarantine-free flights between Atlanta and Rome, agreeing to contact tracing will be mandatory for when they return to the US. 

The service will only be available to passengers flying on Delta-operated flights with a final destination in the US.

Passenger data will be transmitted to the CDC and public health authorities through Customs and Border Protection. Delta currently works with CBP to operate its biometric check-in and boarding systems in place at its international hubs.

Delta flyers are already required to submit a health declaration at check-in affirming that they have no primary symptoms of COVID-19 including a fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater, feeling feverish, a new persistent cough, and shortness of breath or breathing difficulties. 

A COVID-19 positive traveler or even a person exposed to the virus must also wait 14 days from the time of their diagnosis or exposure before stepping on a Delta plane. Most airlines now have these declarations with Frontier Airlines even going as far as performing temperature checks at boarding.

Asymptomatic passengers, however, could spread the virus without knowing. That’s why all major US airlines, including Delta, now require face masks onboard and some will ban passengers who don’t comply. Delta alone has banned over 400 passengers as of late October, including the Navy SEAL that killed Osama bin Laden, Robert O’Neill

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