Novel Coronavirus Outbreak
The novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019, is creating growing concern for air travel. The first known case has now been confirmed in the United States. AFA is contacting our airlines in an effort to put in place information and precautions for crewmembers. We are sharing what we know about the virus now, although health officials are still determining the full implications of the virus and how it is spread.
NOTE: It is important that crew redouble efforts to take the best steps against spread of communicable disease. Review universal precautions in your Flight Attendant manuals.
The virus implicated in this outbreak is part of a large family of coronaviruses that circulate in animals and occasionally cross species barriers to infect humans. Past examples of coronaviruses that have infected humans and adversely affected international travel include SARS and MERS.
Within the past week, there have been reports of deaths due to the virus in China and travelers returning from China and Thailand with infections in Japan, Korea and most recently, the state of Washington in the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated, “[w]hile originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.” CDC also reports that since January 17, 2020 they have begun “implementing public health entry screening at San Francisco (SFO), New York (JFK), and Los Angeles (LAX) airports” and this week “will add entry health screening at two more airports – Atlanta (ATL) and Chicago (ORD).”
AFA is calling on all airlines to institute emergency measures immediately, including providing crew members the latest information regarding the 2019-nCoV outbreak, identification of signs/symptoms of illness (in oneself and others), and procedures to manage potentially ill persons – utilizing information from relevant U.S. authorities including the CDC, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and international authorities including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). We are also encouraging airlines to adopt AFA recommendations from our Communicable Disease Incident Response Checklists.
We will provide additional updates as more information is available. We will continue to press airlines for action on this as we work to keep aviation’s first responders, our counterparts in the flight deck, and our passengers safe and healthy.
New Option of PreCheck for Non-Uniform Crewmember
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) today announced an expanded option for non-uniformed crewmembers transiting security checkpoints with a crew badge. Crewmembers with a badge may now utilize the PreCheck lines out of uniform. All security screening requirements for PreCheck still apply. Liquid and gel exceptions continue to only apply to uniformed crewmembers.
Please note that this is a new procedure that recognizes our trusted status as federally certified crewmembers. The new procedure is being communicated to all airports, but it is possible the new procedures may take a few days or a week to be fully implemented. As always, respectfully question if you receive instruction from a TSA officer that is different than what we have communicated, but always comply with the TSA officer’s instructions.
Non-uniformed crewmembers may still access KCM checkpoints, but please note that random, alternate screening procedures are still in effect at high occurrence rates. This new option for non-uniformed crewmembers is a provision of the overall Known Crewmember program that recognizes our role in aviation security.
We fought hard to be included in KCM program. It is both a privilege as trusted crewmembers and a responsibility as part of aviation security. We all need to work together to ensure it continues to promote security and compliments our work as aviation’s last line of defense.
Please continue to follow all KCM program requirements.