Starting on October 15, United Airlines customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii will have the option to take a COVID-19 test before traveling. The pilot program makes United the first US airline to offer rapid testing prior to departure.
United’s move comes as the airline industry continues to call for more rapid testing solutions to offset the impact of government-imposed travel restrictions and quarantines to mitigate the impact of the novel coronavirus worldwide.
Customers could choose either a rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.
The rapid test – administered by GoHealth Urgent Care and their partner Dignity Health – provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO.
The airline’s partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care started in July to test international flight crews at SFO. GoHealth Urgent Care’s dedicated COVID-19 testing area will be available from 9 AM to 6 PM Pacific Time daily. Customers can schedule their visits online in advance for the on-site testing facility that is located at the international terminal.
For the mail-in test option, which will be administered by Color, customers should initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.
United will e-mail Hawaii-bound passengers an invitation to purchase their physician-ordered Color self-collection kit at least 10 days prior to departure. Customers collect their own samples at home 72 hours prior to their departure and return their test via overnight mail or to a drop box at SFO. Results are returned results via text and/or e-mail within 24-48 hours.
The airline says it worked closely with Hawaii officials to ensure that any United customer – both visitors and Hawaiian residents returning home – who tests negative on either test would not be subjected to the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement.
The program could make it easier for travelers to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world.
“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. “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.”