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United Airlines will require passengers to take a health self-assessment before flights to slow the spread of the coronavirus on planes

Business Insider logo Business Insider 6/10/2020 dslotnick@businessinsider.com (David Slotnick)
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  • United Airlines introduced a new health self-assessment for passengers to complete at check-in.
  • The assessment includes questions about whether passengers have experienced COVID-19 symptoms, had contact with someone who has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and asks them to acknowledge that they must wear a mask on board flights.
  • United was the first major US airline to implement a health screening or assessment during the pandemic, as airlines look for ways to reassure anxious passengers. Alaska Airlines said it will introduce a checklist on June 30.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

United Airlines said Wednesday that it will introduce a new health self-assessment for passengers as part of its effort to prevent COVID-19 from being spread during flights.

The airline's new "Ready-To-Fly" checklist will be presented to passengers during check-in, and will include questions about whether the passengers have experienced COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days such as a fever or cough, have had contact with a person diagnosed with the illness, or have been denied boarding on another airline due to a failed health screening.

The checklist, which must be completed before passengers can complete the check-in process, also requires passengers to acknowledge that they must wear a mask or face covering while aboard their flight.

Customers who do not complete the assessment, or who cannot confirm that they meet the requirements, will be allowed to reschedule their flights, the airline said.

"The health and safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority, and we have been working closely with trusted medical experts and partners to institute new practices and procedures to further protect those who work and travel with us," Pat Baylis, United's corporate medical director, said in a statement.

The checklist was developed in coordination with the Cleaveland Clinic under United's "CleanPlus" program, the airline said.

United is the first of the major US airlines to implement a self-administered health screening or assessment, as airlines seek to both ensure safety on flights, and to reassure potential passengers who may be avoiding booking flights due to anxiety over the virus.

Alaska Airlines announced a similar plan earlier this week. It will take effect on June 30. Frontier Airlines includes a question during check-in asking passengers to acknowledge they do not have symptoms.

Airlines have also lobbied the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to begin passenger temperature scans at airport security screening points, a program which is expected to be announced in coming weeks.

US airlines all require masks on board flights in order to prevent anyone carrying the virus — asymptomatically or otherwise — from passing it on to other passengers. Airlines have all also implemented stringent cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

It was not immediately clear whether passengers would face penalties for providing false information on the checklist. Airlines have been reluctant to enforce mask requirements when passengers refuse to wear them during flights.

A spokesperson for American Airlines said that a health self-assessment was something that the airline was exploring. Delta did not immediately return a request for comment.

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