United Airlines today shared details of the first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program for passengers. From November 16th through December 11th, the carrier will offer free rapid tests to every passenger over the age of two and crew members onboard select flights from Newark Liberty International to London Heathrow. Moreover, those who do not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight. This process guarantees that everyone on board other than children under two years old will have tested negative before flying.
Across the Atlantic
According to a press release seen by Simple Flying, a rapid molecular Abbott ID Now COVID-19 test will be administered by Premise Health and used for the transatlantic pilot. The test will be given to travelers boarding flight 14, which departs at 19:15 on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The Abbott test is one of the top products available, and United has an ongoing collaboration with the company behind it.
An appointment is needed to take the test, and it is advised to schedule it at least three hours before departure. The appointment will be at a testing facility at Newark’s United Club near the airport’s Gate C93.
United has been keen to improve conditions within the aviation industry amid the global health crisis. Therefore, it will share customer feedback on the testing pilot with governments on both sides of the pond. It hopes to further demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative solution to mandatory quarantines or duplicative travel restrictions.
Could be a breakthrough
United Airlines chief customer officer Toby Enqvist spoke about the capabilities of this testing process. He highlighted how valuable it will be in progressing the conditions within the travel industry.
“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,” Enqvist said in the press release.
“Through this pilot program, we’ll guarantee that essentially everyone on board has tested negative for COVID-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety. United will continue to lead on testing, while at the same time exploring new solutions that contribute to the safest travel experience possible.”
Taking the initiative
This move follows United’s groundbreaking pre-flight COVID-19 testing for passengers flying to Hawaii from San Francisco. The program allows travelers with a negative result to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine requirements. As a result, in the first 10 days of the testing, the San Francisco to Hawaii services have seen a nearly 95% increase in passengers compared to the two weeks before the program’s introduction.
Additionally, last week, United took part in the CommonPass test program between Newark and London, which the airline says was a success. The initiative involves an app that contains details of a passenger’s COVID-19 test and health questionnaire. The app then generates a QR code that is scanned by crew before boarding and border officials upon arrival.
Altogether, United feels that these new measures will help in the mission to open up borders. The carrier believed there is a passenger willingness to take part in these programs due to a pent-up desire to travel.
What are your thoughts about United Airlines launching the world’s first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot? Do you think this is a good move? Let us know what you think of the initiative in the comment section.