HomeAirlinesWhat's The Point Of United's Health Self-Assessment?

What’s The Point Of United’s Health Self-Assessment?

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United Airlines has announced that it is now asking all passengers to complete a health self-assessment during the check-in process as part of its “CleanPlus” approach to customer safety….but I’m struggling to see the point if it. Can anyone help?

According to United Airlines, it has taken recommendations from the Cleveland Clinic and put together a form that passengers are presented with at check-in (on the mobile app, on United.com, at an airport kiosk or when physically checking in with an agent) which includes the following that they have to confirm:

  • They are willing to wear a face covering onboard.
  • They have not been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the past 21 days and have not experienced any of the following symptoms in the past 14 days (symptoms from a pre-existing condition are excluded)
    • A temperature of 38 C/100.4 F or higher
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing
    • Chills
    • Muscle pain
    • Sore throat
    • Recent loss of taste or smell
  • They have not been in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 14 days.
  • They have not been denied boarding by another airline due to medical screening for a communicable disease in the last 14 days.

According to United, “[c]ustomers that are not able to confirm these requirements and choose not to travel will be able to reschedule their flight. Customers may also choose to check-in at the airport for further review.”

I can see the point of asking passengers to confirm that they agree to wear a mask once aboard the aircraft because there will always be a few idiots for whom wearing a mask poses no health risks but who refuse to wear a mask as it “infringes on their civil liberties”…but I don’t see the point of the rest of the health self-assessment.

People who are feeling ill or who are showing symptoms that could indicate that they have Covid-19 are either not going to want to fly or, if they want to fly, they’re not likely to admit to something in a self-assessment that even the dumbest person will realize will see them denied boarding.

A quote from United’s Corporate Medical Director says the following:

“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. United’s ‘Ready-to-Fly’ wellness checklist sets clear guidelines on health requirements for our customers and helps minimize the risk of exposure during the travel experience.”

The problem with this is that the new health self-assessment doesn’t help “minimize the risk of exposure during the travel experience” because it relies entirely on passengers being truthful…and passengers who insist on flying even if they cannot confirm one or more of the points on United’s health self-assessment checklist are highly unlikely to be inclined to tell the truth.

I’m all in favor of airlines doing what they can to minimize the risks posed to passengers if they choose to travel but as far as this self-assessment goes, I don’t see the point – it seems to have more in common with security theatre than it does with anything that will actually make a significant difference to passenger safety.

Am I missing something or is United’s new health self-assessment as pointless as I think it is?

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