U.S. Airlines to Begin Contact-Tracing Programs for International Travelers

United and American planes

More U.S. airlines have pledged to collect contact tracing information for passengers traveling from overseas to help reduce the time it would take for the CDC to contact travelers in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak,

Airlines For America, a trade group, announced Friday that its members — which include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines — would pass along passenger information to the CDC to assist in fighting COVID-19.

"We are hopeful that this measure, coupled with existing testing requirements for passengers flying to the U.S., will lead policymakers to lift travel restrictions so that international travel can resume and the social and economic benefits of that travel can be realized," Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement.

The requests for contact information will remain completely voluntary and passengers will not be required to share in order to enter the country. Information collected will include their legal name, two phone numbers, an email address and the address of where they will be staying while in the U.S.

Airlines have resisted implementing contact tracing programs because they said that they do not have passenger information from those who purchased their airfare from third party sellers, like online travel agencies, according to The Associated Press. Airlines also said that gathering the information from passengers would require costly upgrades to their computer systems.

However, both United and Delta launched contact tracing programs in partnership with the CDC back in December. Most international passengers aboard United have voluntarily provided their contact information since the program's launch.

All international travelers are required test negative for COVID-19 upon arrival to the US.

Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.

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