United Airlines has today become the first of the “big three” US airlines to require passengers to complete a health self-assessment during the check-in process.
United Airlines’ new health checklist
As of today, United Airlines customers will have to complete a health self-assessment during the check-in process. This is based on guidance from the Cleveland Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. This will ask customers to confirm that they haven’t experienced any COVID-19 related symptoms in the 14 days prior to flying.
Customers checking in through the United mobile app, united.com, or through a United kiosk, will have to click “Accept” to indicate that they have reviewed the checklist. Customers checking in with an agent will need to provide verbal acknowledgement after reviewing the checklist.
This new checklist includes the following:
- You must wear a face covering while on board for the safety of everyone
- You have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 21 days, and have not experienced any of the following symptoms in the past 14 days (excludes symptoms from a pre-existing condition):
- Temperature of 38 C/100.4 F or higher
- Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Recent loss of taste or smell
- You have not been denied boarding by another airline due to a medical screening for a communicable disease in the last 14 days
- You have not had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days
What happens if you can’t agree to these requirements?
United Airlines customers who are not able to confirm these requirements and choose not to travel will be able to reschedule their flight. United says that “customers may also choose to check-in at the airport for further review,” though no further information is given as to what that would look like.
Security theater, or useful?
For years when checking in for flights in many regions we’ve been asked whether we’ve packed our own bags, whether our bags have been in our sight the entire time, etc. I’ve always viewed that as being security theater, so how does this compare?
I have conflicting thoughts:
- This is useful if we assume that people both read the acknowledgement and also aren’t aware of the symptoms of COVID-19
- Presumably if people were aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 and still showed up for their flight, they have no problem endangering others, and also would be willing to lie during check-in
- I have questions about aspects of the list, like having to acknowledge you don’t have muscle pain; if you have muscle pain from a workout, it sounds like you technically shouldn’t be allowed to fly (though I’m guessing most people would focus on the intent rather than the exact details of the form)
- Given the controversy surrounding wearing masks on a plane, perhaps it’s smart to get people to acknowledge that they’ll abide by that requirement
While United Airlines isn’t the first US airline to have a health acknowledgement form, they are the first of the “big three.” Expect that you’ll be asked to acknowledge these terms during check-in, and if you aren’t able to do so, you may not be allowed to fly.
Do you view this health acknowledgement form as pure theater, or as potentially useful?