MIAMI – Delta Air Lines (DL) and the CDC will keep international customers informed of potential COVID-19 exposure through contact tracing. Beginning December 15, DL will become the first US airline to ask customers traveling to the US from an international location to voluntarily provide five pieces of data to aid contact tracing and public health follow-up efforts, including:

  • Full name
  • Email address
  • Address in the US
  • Primary phone
  • Secondary phone

Bill Lentsch, Delta’s Chief Customer Experience Officer, said, “Independent studies have shown that the many layers of protection Delta has already put in place are effectively minimizing the risk of COVID-19 transmission, and contact tracing adds one more important layer to our efforts to ensure safety throughout travel. We want customers to feel safe when they return to travel, and this voluntary program is another way we can provide additional reassurance to customers and employees alike.”

According to the airline, customers and those in their itinerary can voluntarily participate in DL’s contact-tracing program if they are:

  • Flying on any Delta operated flight
  • A foreign national and/or a US passport holder traveling to the United States as your final destination
Delta Air Lines hand sanitizers to customers while boarding. Photo: DL

How Will the Process in Comparison to the Current Process?

Under the new process, DL will work with the CDC to streamline contact-tracing efforts by directly transmitting the five requested customer data points to the CDC via US Customs and Border Protection. This will give the CDC access to the data in moments, decreasing the time it takes to notify affected customers via local health departments.

By connecting with customers more quickly and providing public health follow-up, health authorities can help reduce instances of potential exposure and slow the spread of the virus.

Currently, in the event of a confirmed COVID-19 case with travel while infectious, the CDC requests a passenger manifest from DL to identify all customers seated two seats around the confirmed case. This information is then transmitted to the appropriate local health departments for follow-up, with each department taking responsibility for passengers in their own jurisdiction.

Flyers at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport wearing facemasks on March 6th, 2020 as the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads throughout the United States. Photo: Wiki Commons

Contact Tracing Required for Atlanta-Rome Testing Program

Last week, DL announced our partnership with the Aeroporti de Roma and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) to launch a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic COVID-19 testing program that will enable quarantine-free entry into Italy. Participating customers who are eligible to travel will be granted an exemption from quarantine restrictions on arrival into Italy.

The testing approach is in accordance with a decree issued by the Italian government, according to DL. The scheduled flights from ATL to Rome-Fiumicino International Airport (FCO) will start on December 19.

As part of this pilot program, contact-tracing information collection will be mandatory for all customers flying to the US. This pilot and DL’s ongoing contact-tracing efforts are seen by the carrier as crucial steps to resuming international travel safely.

Featured image: Delta Air Lines