United To Start Rapid Covid-19 Tests For Passengers

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United Airlines will provide rapid Covid-19 tests for its passengers from Oct. 15, becoming the first U.S. carrier to offer this kind of service.

United passengers traveling between San Francisco and Hawaii will be able to opt to take a covid-19 test before they board their flight.

If their report found negative, they can skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine.

United customers can choose to take either a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected mail-in test prior to departure and are responsible for the cost of the test.

The rapid test’s results will be available in about 15 minutes and will costs $250, while the mail-in test costs $80.

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United has partnered with two healthcare providers to manage its testing program. The Abbott ID NOW rapid Covid-19 test, which gives results in around 15 minutes, is run by GoHealth Urgent Care and its partner Dignity Health.

The Mail-In option is managed by Color. Under this option, customers traveling between San Francisco and Hawaii will receive an email from United giving them the option to purchase a doctor-ordered Color Self-Collection Kit at least 10 days prior to departure.
Travelers will collect their own sample 72 hours before departure and return the test by post overnight or to a Dropbox at the airport. Color processes the test and returns the results via text and / or email.

Many in the industry believe that preflight testing could be key to convincing countries to reopen their borders to travel and get the public flying again until a vaccine is available globally.

Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association urged governments to work with industry to implement airport test programs.

These kid of test programs are being run at many international airports, including Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, and Italy, but there is still no common standard for how they are running programs.

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According to the IATA director general, Alexandre de Juniac, “the industry will face several challenges in expanding testing programs, including developing agreements on standards and ensuring universal acceptance of the results. There must also be a range of tests that are fast, accurate, affordable and easy to manage, he added. Lufthansa, a German airline that announced earlier this month that it would offer coronavirus tests to first and business class passengers from next month, cited a lack of tests as a reason for not offering them to all passengers.”


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