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Airline offers free rapid tests in attempt at COVID-free flights

United Airlines


(NEW YORK) — For even the most experienced travelers, getting on a plane during a pandemic is bound to give pause. One airline is attempting to ease travelers’ minds by testing each passenger for COVID-19 just prior to boarding.

On Monday, everyone on United flight 14 from Newark Liberty International Airport to London’s Heathrow participated in the airline’s new transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program. The airline provided free rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old and all crew members on board to make sure everyone tested negative prior to departure.

The airline said in a press release that the rapid Abbott ID Now COVID-19 test administered by Premise Health was offered on-site at the airport.

The test will be used on passengers traveling on United Flight 14, departing at 7:15 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next four weeks, according to the airline. Customers booking these flights will have the option to confirm their willingness to participate in the trial or be accommodated on another flight. Customers who opt-in will receive information prior to travel in order to schedule a testing appointment at least three hours before their flight departs. All customers are still subject to current U.K. entry requirements, including the 14-day quarantine rule.

United is not the only airline offering COVID-19 testing for passengers.

In September, Hawaiian Airlines announced dedicated drive-through COVID-19 tests in select U.S. mainland gateways to guests to bypass the state of Hawaii’s quarantine. The cost is $90 for results within 36 hours, or $150 for day-of-travel express service. In October, the airline expanded the service to include at-home testing with real time audio-video supervision. American Airlines also offers COVID testing for certain destinations.

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