United Airlines will offer customers COVID-19 tests next month and is the first U.S airline to do so, the carrier announced on Thursday.
The Chicago-based airline will launch the service Oct. 15 only for customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii, but says it will expand testing to other U.S. airports later this year, according to a press release. When asked if the service will eventually be offered at Logan International Airport, an airline spokesperson wrote in an email that the airline cannot currently confirm which airports will offer the program in the future.
“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 Airlines, in a statement. “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 that include a mandatory mask policy, antimicrobial and electrostatic spraying, and our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems.”
United customers will have two options when it comes to testing: a rapid test on the day of travel or a self-collected mail-in test completed prior to travel.
The rapid test will be administered at the airport by GoHealth Urgent Care for $250, and results will be available within about 15 minutes. Travelers can schedule an appointment online in advance and the testing facility, located in the international terminal, will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
The physician-ordered mail-in test from Color costs $80 plus shipping. United Airlines will email customers with an invitation to buy the self-collection kit, which contains a plastic collection tube, nasal swab, and instructions, at least 10 days before departure. After the customer completes the test at home 72 hours before departure, the test must be returned by either overnight mail or to a drop box at the airport. Color will then process the test at a local laboratory and issue results via text and email within 24 to 48 hours.
The day United begins offering testing for travelers to Hawaii is the same day Hawaii will drop its mandatory 14-day quarantine for travelers who test negative for the virus within 72 hours of arrival.
On Wednesday, United launched a map search tool that allows customers to view all of their potential travel destinations in one place. Earlier this month, United introduced a Destination Travel Guide, an interactive online map that allows users to filter and view coronavirus pandemic travel restrictions for each U.S. state.
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