United Airlines’s COVID-19 testing, starting on flights from SFO to Hawaii in October, could have us saying “goodbye quarantine, hello world” by year’s end
United Airlines is launching a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travellers that could ease quarantine and entry requirements at popular destinations worldwide. The pilot program begins on October 15 for travellers aboard flights from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii. Two testing options will be available: a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of departure.
Testing conducted at the airport will yield results in approximately 15 minutes thanks to GoHealth Urgent Care’s partnership with Dignity Health that created the rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test. Passengers who opt to test from home have a longer process. Mail-in testing administered by Color suggests that travellers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.
United Airlines worked closely with Hawaii officials to ensure that Hawaiian residents and visitors aboard United flights who test negative on either test would not be subjected to the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement. As the major airline that is currently offering the most flights to Hawaii, United’s collaboration with the Hawaii government means that tourism in the state will likely be boosted in the coming months.
Hawaii is just the beginning of United’s foray into easing coronavirus restrictions for travellers. According to Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer at United, “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.”
Airport-Based Coronavirus Rapid Testing
United has been testing international flight crews at San Francisco International Airport using the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test since July, giving passengers ease of mind when it comes to test effectiveness. Starting October 15, passengers to Hawaii can access the GoHealth Urgent Care dedicated COVID-19 testing area between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. PT daily.
Testing for Coronavirus at Home
At least 10 days prior to departure, United will email all passengers with detailed information on how to purchase a physician-ordered Color self-collection kit. Passengers will collect their own sample at home 72 hours prior to departure and return the test either via overnight mail or at a drop box at San Francisco International Airport.
Color then processes those tests at their local, CLIA-certified COVID-19 testing laboratory and returns results via text and/or email within 24-48 hours. Color’s self-collection kit includes a plastic collection tube, a non-invasive nasal swab and instructions on how to properly collect a specimen.
“Convenient, widespread COVID-19 testing with fast and reliable results is critical to a return to normalcy and to accelerate the economic recovery,” said Caroline Savello, Chief Commercial Officer at Color.
Color at home test kits benefit travellers who plan to be at San Francisco International Airport outside of GoHealth’s opening hours or those who prefer to test at home for reasons such as reduced wait time at the airport.
From mask mandates and contactless bag check-in to online health questionnaires, United has shown commitment to health and safety standards that protect customers and employees during the coronavirus pandemic. By the end of this year, the entire mainline and express United fleet will be coated with EPA registered Zoono Microbe Shield.
To find out more and stay up to date on the latest health and safety innovations at United Airlines, visit united.com/cleanplus.