ThermoRebellion technology has been deployed at Terminal 1.

By Meena Thiruvengadam
November 23, 2020
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Credit: Honeywell

John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport in New York City is adding another layer to its coronavirus transmission prevention efforts: infrared temperature checks. 

JFK is using a Honeywell device called ThermoRebellion. The system pairs infrared imaging with artificial intelligence algorithms. Passengers walk in front of a camera, which detects and displays their temperature on a screen in a few seconds. 

Credit: Honeywell

JFK has deployed the technology at entrances to Terminal 1, which serves international airlines including Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, Air China, Turkish Airlines, and Japan Airlines. 

Still, it’s unclear just how much additional protection temperature checks provide. 

Several U.S. airports have implemented screening methods aimed at curbing coronavirus transmission, but methods require the presence of symptoms, which some COVID-19 carriers don’t exhibit. As a result, airport safety precautions have detected just a few coronavirus cases: one in 85,000, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said

Airports and airlines have tried to fill gaps with COVID-19 testing, empty middle seats, mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning. JetBlue this summer tested a robotic disinfectant machine that used UV light to clean and sanitize an entire passenger cabin in under 10 minutes. 

JFK requires everyone in the airport to wear a face covering, is encouraging mobile check-ins, and has added plexiglass barriers, distance markers, and hand-sanitizing stations.   

Of course, there are a limited number of countries U.S. passport holders can visit, and the CDC is urging Americans to reconsider any travel plans they have. 

The number of COVID-19 cases around the world is nearing 56 million. More than 1.3 million people have died, and the pandemic is now spreading to the remote South Pacific islands that were the last coronavirus-free destinations on Earth. 

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.