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United Scales Back COVID-19 Testing Plan to On-Site Options

After previously announcing they would offer an at-home COVID-19 testing option to flyers who are outbound for Hawaii through San Francisco, United Airlines is moving forward with an in-person only option. Flyers can now get tested at the airport, or through a drive-thru testing site.

United Airlines will not offer at-home COVID-19 tests for flyers heading to three major Hawaiian airports, opting instead for on-site tests either through their urgent care partner, or at a drive-thru test site. In a press release, the airline announced the launch of pre-flight COVID-19 exams on Oct. 15, 2020.

New Options Include Drive-Thru Test at SFO Maintenance Center Parking Lot

Previously, United Airlines announced flyers outbound from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to three Hawaiian airports would have an option to either take a COVID-19 exam at the airport, or through an at-home kit delivered by mail. The at-home kits were to be provided by Color, which has provided health services for San Francisco Bay Area institutions including Levi’s, Salesforce and SAP.

However, a spokesperson for United confirmed to FlyerTalk that the at-home exams would no longer be available to flyers ahead of their trip. Instead, Color will operate a drive-thru exam at United Airlines’ SFO maintenance center parking lot. Details on the available options will be e-mailed to qualifying flyers seven days before their flight.

One of the key issues with the take-home test could be a supervision requirement. As FlyerTalk discovered, the COVID-19 exam offered by JetBlue involves registered nurse supervision, while the American Airlines test from LetsGetChecked added a step requiring flyers to connect with a nurse online to have their nasal swab exam supervised.

Flyers will also have the option of having an exam at San Francisco International Airport. Working with Dignity Health and GoHealth Urgent Care, flyers can receive the Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test – the same one offered at New York-area airports. Both the Color test and the Dignity Health GoHealth Urgent Care test are accepted by Hawaiian authorities to bypass the 14-day quarantine requirement upon arrival.

COVID-19 Test Grow in Popularity Across the U.S.

To encourage flyers to continue traveling, more airlines and airports are offering COVID-19 tests to the flying public. In addition to United’s pilot project, Tampa International Airport (TPA) is also offering COVID-19 exams to flyers who have transited through their airport for a limited amount of time.

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