Paine Field in Everett, Washington, has become the first commercial US airport to introduce temperature checks for all passengers.
Paine Field body temperature checks
Before entering the TSA checkpoint, all passengers will be screened by a thermal camera that reads body temperature. Passengers flagged as having a high temperature will be offered secondary screening, and if fever is confirmed, the passenger and the airline will determine their ability to travel.
#PAE is rolling out a new fever detection system. This technology, developed by @AthenaSecure, is non-invasive, non-contact and alerts personnel when a passenger of staff member has a fever. We care about your health! For more info visit: https://t.co/RfZE52SaWc pic.twitter.com/D1bqL6Ic6L
— Fly Paine Field (@FlyPaineField) April 29, 2020
The airport is using the Elevated Body Temperature Detection System to perform these checks, as it’s non-invasive, non-contact technology. This is similar to the technology that has been used at many airports in Asia for years. The system was developed by Athena Security.
As Brett Smith, the CEO of Propellor Airports (which runs the Paine Field terminal) explains:
“During this difficult time, the addition of Athena’s Elevated Body Temperature Detection System is a vital step to ensure the health and safety of our passengers, airline partners and staff.
Since opening, we have been committed to staying on the forefront of trends and innovations to provide the best possible experience to our passengers, and we’re proud to be the first U.S. passenger terminal to roll out this type of technology. The use of this system will allow us to maintain the seamless, safe and modern travel experience our customers have come to expect.”
This makes sense, but…
It seems to me like this is a case of “something is better than nothing,” which is to say that this alone won’t make it safe for people to travel again, though it’s a step in the right direction. This technology has been used at airports all over the world (and in particular in Asia) for years, so it seems overdue that we’re finally seeing it in the US.
I do have a few thoughts/questions:
- Ideally shouldn’t the temperature screening actually happen as people enter the terminal, since even before going through security people often don’t social distance?
- Taking temperatures is great, but what exactly are they doing with this information? If someone does have a fever then the airline and passenger together will decide what should happen? What does that process look like?
- Paine Field is a comparatively small airport, so could this be executed as easily at much bigger airports?
Paine Field has now introduced body temperature checks, which seems like a move in the right direction. I suspect this could be part of the new normal, along with face masks (at least for the time being).
The only thing I’m confused about is what happens if someone does actually have a high temperature. I’m not sure what exactly a collaborative process looks like between a passengers and airline in making a determination…