Delta Air Lines will launch the airline industry’s first contact tracing program this month for customers traveling to the U.S., the airline announced Thursday.
Beginning Dec. 15, the Atlanta-based airline, which has a hub at Logan International Airport, will ask customers arriving in the U.S. from an international location to provide five pieces of data. The program is voluntary, except for those traveling on the airline’s quarantine-free flight to Italy.
Customers taking part in the program will provide the following: full name, email address, address in the U.S., primary phone, and secondary phone.
“Independent studies have shown that the many layers of protection Delta has already put in place are effectively minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing adds one more important layer to our efforts to ensure safety throughout travel,” said Bill Lentsch, chief customer experience officer for Delta, in a statement. “We want customers to feel safe when they return to travel, and this voluntary program is another way we can provide additional reassurance to customers and employees alike.”
The airline will be “directly and securely transmitting” the customer’s information to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to the airline, and hold onto it for “no longer than is necessary.” Currently, if there’s a confirmed case of COVID-19 on a flight, the CDC requests a passenger manifest so the travelers who sit two seats around the positive person can be identified, according to Delta. The information is then sent to the appropriate local health departments for follow-up.
“This will give the CDC access to the data in moments, dramatically decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments,” airline officials wrote in a news release.
Delta customers and those flying on their itinerary can participate in the program if they are: flying a Delta-operated flight and a foreign national and/or a U.S. passport holder whose final destination is in the U.S., according to the airline.
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