Travel insights from Andrea Sedlacek, editor of The Compass

United is First Airline to Offer COVID-19 Tests to Travelers

On September 24, 2020, United Airlines announced the launch of their COVID-19 testing program, making them the first airline to offer COVID-19 tests to travelers.

According to a press release from United, “starting on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.” Working with Hawaii officials, United ensured that their customers who test negative on either type of test will not be subjected to the 14-day quarantine that is currently enforced by the state. This includes both visitors and residents of Hawaii who are returning home.

The rapid tests will be available to travelers on the same day as their departing flight and can provide results in approximately 15 minutes. For the mail-in tests, United recommends that travelers initiate that type of testing at least 10 days before they travel and provide their sample within 72 hours of departure.

"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. He also said the airline will quickly expand this testing to other destinations and airports around the U.S.

Adding this service for travelers is just another way United has adapted its business in the pandemic. In late August, United dropped change fees and in May, they enhanced their sanitation and cleaning procedures on their aircraft.

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