By Bev Fearis, published 04/11/20
United Airlines will launch the first free transatlantic Covid-19 testing pilot for customers later this month.
From November 16 until December 11, free rapid tests will be offered to every passenger over the age of two, plus cabin crew, on board select flights from Newark to London Heathrow.
Anyone who does not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight, guaranteeing that everyone on board, other than children under two, will have tested negative before departure.
Customer feedback and results of the trial will be shared with governments on both sides of the Atlantic.
United said when testing options are available it has seen a positive impact on travel demand, with higher customer load factors and revenue.
“We believe the ability to provide fast, same-day Covid-19 testing will play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, particularly to key international destinations like London,” said Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer for United.
The tests will be administered by Premise Health on United Flight 14, departing at 7:15pm on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Passengers are required to make appointments and are advised to schedule their tests at least three hours before their flight.
An on-site testing facility will be located at the Newark United Club, near Gate C93.
In October, United began offering customers travelling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii the option to take a same-day, pre-flight rapid test at the airport or a conveniently located drive-through test, for a fee. This allowed passengers with a negative result to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine.
In the first 10 days (October 15-25) the San Francisco to Hawaii flights saw a nearly 95% increase in passengers compared to the prior two-week period.
United believes this demonstrates a “strong and pent-up demand” for travel.
See more on traveller testing in the latest edition of The Business Travel Magazine.