United Airlines has launched a new contact tracing initiative in support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The carrier will prompt passengers on all of its domestic and international flights to voluntarily opt-in to provide details including email address, phone number and address of where they will be once they reach their destination.

United said that these details “were previously difficult for the CDC to obtain in real-time”, and that it represented “the airline industry’s most comprehensive contact information collection programme for public health follow-up and contact tracing”.

The initiative is being rolled out in phases, starting with the voluntary collection of information for all international arrivals this week, before being extended to domestic and international outbound departures “in the weeks ahead”.

Customers can opt-in to the programme on the carrier’s mobile app, at united.com, or at the airport.

Commenting on the news CDC Director Dr Robert R Redfield said:

“Contact tracing is a fundamental component of the nation’s public health response strategy for controlling the spread of communicable diseases of public health concern.

“Collection of contact information from air travellers will greatly improve the timeliness and completeness of information for COVID-19 public health follow-up and contact tracing.”

United recently trialled Covid-free flights between Newark and London Heathrow, with all passengers over the age of two required to take a rapid molecular Abbott ID Now Covid-19 test prior to departure.

United’s first Covid-19-free flight lands at London Heathrow