United Airlines to offer rapid coronavirus tests for some passengers

By | September 24, 2020

United Airlines will offer rapid coronavirus tests to passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii for a fee next month, a pilot program that could serve as a blueprint for other airlines.

Hawaii-bound travelers will have the option starting Oct. 15 to receive an Abbott test that delivers results within 15 minutes for a fee of $ 250 if paid for at the airport and $ 80 if paid for ahead of the trip. The testing will help passengers avoid an otherwise mandatory 14-day quarantine in Hawaii.

“Our new COVID testing program is another way we are helping customers meet their destinations’ entry requirements, safely and conveniently,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United.

Other airlines have signaled that they will start offering similar services. American Airlines asked for proposals from 150 rapid-testing providers in order for the airline to launch its preflight testing program, Forbes reported Wednesday. German airline Lufthansa, meanwhile, has already opened preflight testing centers in airports in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg, and Dusseldorf.

United has implemented the new testing policy for inbound Hawaii flights, but the airline expects to expand to more destinations in the United States.

“We’ll look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year to complement our state-of-the-art cleaning and safety measures,” Enqvist said.

The airline industry has been crippled by the lull in travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to keep the industry’s gradual recovery going, airline executives met with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows on Thursday in a last-ditch effort to get more federal aid. If preflight testing becomes widespread, it may help address fears many passengers have of flying until a vaccine is approved.

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