United Airlines offers free rapid virus tests for select international flights

The Chicago-based airline is piloting a testing program on London-bound flights from Newark, New Jersey

United Airlines has announced that it is providing free COVID-19 rapid testing for a limited time for passengers on select international flights.

The Chicago-based airline revealed in a tweet last week that passengers on a London-bound flight from Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, New Jersey were a part of the “world’s first transatlantic flight to guarantee everyone (over 2 years old) on board tested negative for COVID-19 before departure.”

The effort is part of a pilot program the company launched last week to stop the deadly disease from spreading on its aircraft.

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According to United’s website, this trial run of rapid COVID-19 pre-flight testing started on Nov. 16 and will run for select flights on the New York/Newark to London route until Dec. 11. The tests will be available for a total of 12 flights scheduled for Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

United Airlines
United Airlines (Credit: United Airlines)

Each passenger will be required to take the test and only those who test negative will be permitted to fly.

All passengers will be contacted by Untied prior to the fly. Each passenger is required to schedule their test and it must be done in advance. All tests will be administered by Premise Health in a terminal at the New Jersey airport, which is outside New York City.

Passengers will be able to get their results in approximately 30 minutes.

A passenger looks at his phone while waiting aboard a United Airlines plane before taking off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport on May 11, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

United’s Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist stated to The Robb Report that he hopes this trial run will help inform coronavirus protocols to other airlines to make international flying safer.

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“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.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is currently recommending all those who are traveling by airplane to get a COVID-19 test one to three days before boarding any flight. Once returning home, the CDC recommends travels get tested three to five days after arriving and to go into self-isolation for seven days, regardless of the results.

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