United Airlines Becomes First US Carrier to Make COVID-19 Tests Available to Customers
Starting on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaiʻi will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip.
The launch coincides with Hawaiʻi’s start of a pre-travel testing program that enables travelers to get a COVID-19 test no earlier than 72 hours prior to their flight arrival in Hawai‘i to avoid the 14-day mandatory quarantine if the test comes back negative for the virus.
GoHealth Urgent Care Rapid Test
United Airlines is the first US airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program that airline executives say could make it easier for travelers to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world.
United has partnered with Dignity Health-GoHealth Urgent Care to provide the onsite rapid testing to designated customers traveling from San Francisco International to Hawaiʻi. The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO.
United first partnered with GoHealth Urgent Care in July to test its international flight crews at SFO. United now plans to expand that testing infrastructure to include customers who wish to be tested for COVID-19 pre-flight.
Customers can schedule their visits online in advance for the on-site testing facility that is located at the international terminal. GoHealth Urgent Care’s dedicated COVID-19 testing area will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. PT daily.
Self-Collected, Mail-In Tests by Color
A separate mail-in test option will be administered by the technology and infrastructure company, Color, and it is recommended that customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.
United is working with Color to offer the self-collected, mail-in tests for customers traveling to Hawaiʻi. United will email customers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaiʻi an invitation to purchase their physician-ordered Color self-collection kit at least 10 days ahead of their departure, 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.
Color then processes those tests at their local, CLIA-certified COVID-19 testing laboratory and returns results via text and/or email within 24-48 hours. Color’s self-collection kit includes a plastic collection tube, a non-invasive nasal swab and instructions on how to properly collect a specimen.
Airline worked alongside Hawaiʻi government to align tests to meet state requirements
The airline worked closely with Hawaiʻi officials to ensure that any United customer – both visitors and Hawaiʻi residents returning home – who tests negative on either test within the given time frame would not be subjected to the state’s current 14-day quarantine requirement.
United currently offers more flights to Hawaiʻi than any other major network carrier including daily service between San Francisco and Honolulu, Maui and Kona. The carrier plans to increase service to Hawaiʻi on Oct. 15, including the resumption of service between San Francisco and Līhue and additional flights between San Francisco and Maui and Kona.
“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 that include a mandatory mask policy, antimicrobial and electrostatic spraying and our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems.”