United becomes first US carrier to introduce rapid COVID-19 tests


In a pilot testing programme starting on 15 October, United will offer testing for customers travelling from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii.

United Airlines will become the first US airline to offer a COVID-19 testing to travellers, making it easier for them to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of destinations around the world.

In a pilot testing programme starting on 15 October, United will offer testing for customers travelling from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii.

The airline will offer passengers a rapid 15-minute test or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip. The rapid test, developed by medical device company Abbott, will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO, while the mail-in test option will be administered by biotech company Color and it is recommended that customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.

The airline has worked closely with Hawaii officials to ensure that any United customer, who tests negative on either test would not be subjected to the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement. The airline’s plans also align with Hawaii’s pre-travel testing programme, which is also expected to launch on 15 October.

“Our new COVID testing programme is another way we are helping customers meet their destinations’ entry requirements, safely and conveniently,” said Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer at United. “We’ll look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and US 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 currently offers daily service between San Francisco and Honolulu (HNL), Maui (OGG) and Kona (KOA) and plans to increase service to Hawaii in October, including the resumption of service between San Francisco and Lihue (LIH) and additional flights between San Francisco and Maui and Kona.

The circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are continuously evolving. Our friends at APEX have a dedicated COVID-19 page, which they’ll be updating regularly to help keep you up-to-date on how the novel coronavirus is impacting the aviation industry. Visit the page for the very latest news >>

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