Southwest to Test Thermal Cameras for Checking Passengers' Temperatures

The pilot program is slated to start at Dallas Love Field airport in early August.

Southwest Airlines will begin testing thermal cameras to check passengers for a fever at an airport in Dallas, the company confirmed to Travel + Leisure on Thursday.

The pilot program is slated to start at Dallas Love Field airport in early August and will last about 30 to 90 days. The program will focus on things like where to place the equipment and the operation processes.

“Southwest always operates a multi-layered approach to supporting the well-being of travelers and employees, which is especially important during the current COVID-19 pandemic,” Scott Halfmann, the vice president of safety and security at Southwest Airlines, said in a statement provided to T+L. “Thermal screenings could be an important, additional layer of precaution that Southwest can offer customers starting at the very beginning of their travel journey.”

Thermal scans will not initially be linked to specific travelers and will only be used for research purposes, according to Dallas Love Field.

While Southwest (which was voted as having the best customer service for domestic airlines by T+L readers) is implementing the temperature checks, the airline still called on the Transportation Security Administration to conduct these screenings.

In addition to this initiative, Southwest has also extended its policy of blocking middle seats through at least Oct. 31, a company spokesman confirmed to T+L.

And in a further effort to keep customers safe, Southwest will implement a stricter mask policy. Starting July 27, all passengers two and older will be required to wear a mask without exceptions. Customers will only be allowed to remove their masks “briefly” to drink, eat, or take medicine.

“If a Customer is unable to wear a face covering or mask for any reason, Southwest regrets that we will be unable to transport the individual,” the company said in a statement. “In those cases, we hope the Customer will allow us to welcome them onboard in the future, if public health guidance, or other safety-related circumstances, regarding face coverings changes.”

Southwest isn't alone in strengthening its mask policy. United and American Airlines has said it would temporarily ban passengers from flying if they refuse to wear a mask on board. Delta Air Lines has said they will require anyone claiming they can’t wear a mask due to medical reasons to receive pre-approval before flying.

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