Frontier Airlines to check passenger temperatures. Too high, you won’t fly

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Frontier Airlines planes stand at gates on the A Concourse at Denver International Airport in Denver.

David Zalubowski | AP

Frontier Airlines will soon become the first U.S. carrier to check passenger temperatures before allowing people to get on board. Some airline executives have suggested temperature checks would make travelers feel more comfortable about flying.

“This new step during the boarding process, coupled with face coverings and elevated disinfection procedures, will serve to provide Frontier customers an assurance that their wellbeing is our foremost priority,” said CEO Barry Biffle in a statement announcing the new program.

Frontier has ordered five hundred infrared thermometers so its gate agents are ready to screen passengers starting June 1.

Before boarding, passengers and Frontier crew members will have their temperatures checked at the gate. If someone registers a temperature of 100.4 or higher, they will be kept at the gate for approximately ten minutes, then screened again. If the second temperature check is still 100.4 or higher, the passenger or crew member will not be allowed on that flight.

Frontier said anyone denied boarding will be re-booked.

Biffle told CNBC he has heard from passengers who say they want temperature checks.

Earlier this week, Air Canada became the first airline in North America to say it will start checking passenger temperatures before flights. That requirement takes effect on May 15. Heathrow Airport in London has announced it will start using thermal cameras to monitor the temperatures of people in the airport’s immigration halls.

The move comes just hours after Biffle rescinded the airline’s plan to sell passengers the guarantee of an empty middle seat for $39. Frontier said selling the guarantee of an empty middle seat would reassure passengers who want to make sure there is nobody sitting next to them on a flight.

The offer was met with swift criticism on Capitol Hill. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, the chair of the House Transportation Committee, accused Frontier of “capitalizing on fear.” 

The message was loud and clear, and within 24 hours Frontier dropped the plan to sell the guarantee of an empty middle seat.

In a letter to members of Congress, Biffle wrote, “We recognize the concerns raised that we are profiting from safety and this was never our intent. We simply wanted to provide our customers with an option for more space.”

CNBC’s Meghan Reeder contributed to this article.

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