Hawaii bound United flights will offer Covid testing, starting in October

Are you boarding a flight to Hawaii from San Francisco anytime soon? If you’re flying United on Oct. 15 and beyond, you can get a COVID test for a fee. 

In an attempt to lure customers and assuage air-travel related fears, United has made history by becoming the first U.S. based airline to offer rapid testing. 

Customers will have two options for testing: a $250 rapid response test conducted by nasal swab at the airport before security checkpoints, or an $80 option offered by Color Genomics mailed days before the trip. 

Any customers testing positive will not be allowed to travel. 

This decision comes as United and other airlines begin to resume travel to destinations previously unavailable. 

Starting Oct. 15, Hawaii will allow travelers visiting from outside of the state to arrive without a mandatory 14 day quarantine period if they test negative 72 hours before their arrival. 

According to the Wall Street Journal, United Airlines ensured that the tests met the standards set by Hawaiian public health officials. 

United and Delta Airlines also rolled out rapid testing for crew members in August. 

Global airlines remain frustrated by blanket international travel bans. On Sept. 22, airlines called for mandatory pre-departure testing to replace the travel restrictions believed to be damaging the industry. 

Alexandre de Juniac, head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), explained that affordable rapid testing administered by non-medical staff should be available in the “coming weeks” and should be widely adopted under globally agreed standards. 

‘We don’t see any alternative solution that would be less challenging or more effective”, said de Juniac. 

France, Germany, and Iceland were among the first countries offering rapid response testing to airport travelers in early July. 

According to Fox News, Hong Kong has instituted strict testing regimens for international travelers from countries deemed “high risk,” including a seven-hour screening process. The United States is among the “high risk” countries. 

Haneda International and Narita International in Tokyo began using a rapid response test in July. 

In the United States, San Francisco, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia Airport in New York, Newark Liberty International Airport, and airports in Alaska have offered rapid response testing

In Alaskan airports Juneau International, Ted Stevens Anchorage International, and Ketchikan Airport, testing is free for residents. Non-residents must pay a $250 fee and are required to quarantine until test results are confirmed. 

Travelers at JFK and Newark Liberty can obtain testing through Xpress Check, a subsidiary of the XpresSpa airport massage and manicure chain.

Months into the pandemic, airlines remain convinced that travel demand will remain low until there is a widely accepted vaccine for the novel coronavirus. 

Numerous U.S. carriers, such as American Airlines, have signaled that they are beginning to look into rapid testing options. 

Asked about expanding rapid testing, United California’s president Janet Lumnkin told CNBC, “We are very interested in opening this up to other destinations.” 

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