Airlines For America (A4A) members have pledged their support for an international contract tracing program. Formally knowns as the Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the Washington lobbying group works with United States politicians promoting major North American airlines. In a statement released yesterday seen by Simple Flying, the trade organization said that its airlines had pledged to support a voluntary international contact tracing program.
Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines have all committed to collecting contract tracing data from all passengers arriving in the United States and passing it on to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. The airlines see this as being an additional layer of protection for the traveling public. To help during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, airlines have agreed to ask their customers to voluntarily supply the following information to aid the CDC as they attempt to get a grip on the deadly virus:
- Legal name
- Two phone numbers
- Email address
- The address of where travelers will be staying in the U.S. or address of permanent residence in the US
Airlines are prioritizing health and safety
“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 US airlines and the federal government are prioritizing the health and safety of passengers and crew,” said Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. 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.”
Since the coronavirus first raised its ugly head in Wuhan, China, United States airlines have been implementing various proactive measures to protect their customers and employees. These have included the mandatory wearing of facemasks, enhanced aircraft cleaning, and pre-departure health acknowledgment forms.
Regarding public health and the current COVID-19 medical emergency, contract tracing is a way to identify a person who may have had contact with someone known to be infected with the coronavirus. By tracing who the infected person may have been with, health officials can tell people that the virus may have infected them and that they need to self isolate as a precaution. In doing this, it stops the virus from spreading further throughout the population.
Contact tracing is done for the following reasons:
- To interrupt the spread of the virus by stopping its transmission
- To alert people that they may have been in contact with an infected person
- To offer diagnosis, counseling and treatment should you also be infected
- To learn how the epidemiology of a disease affects different populations
Contact tracing is nothing new and has been used by health officials for decades to help stop the spread of communicable diseases such as smallpox. The eradication of smallpox was achieved through the exhaustive tracing of people who may have been infected, followed by their subsequent isolation and immunization.
What do you think about airlines asking you for contract tracing information? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.