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Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Could Come to U.S. Domestic Flights

Mandatory COVID-19 Testing Could Come to U.S. Domestic Flights
Joe Cortez

As a means to stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus, the White House may be considering creating an additional mandate on flyers prior to travel. In addition to requiring passengers to wear face coverings on all aircraft, the next regulation could be mandatory COVID-19 testing prior to departure.

Could the next executive order require flyers to take a COVID-19 test before flying within the United States? Reuters reports the White House is considering adding a testing mandate to further stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus.

“Conversations Are Ongoing” About Mandatory Testing for Domestic Travel

After president Joe Biden followed through on a campaign promise to make a face covering rule on all public carriers – including airlines, buses and trains – the next step could be making pre-travel COVID-19 a requirement for all domestic flights. In comments to the media, leaders from the Centers for Disease Control said that “conversations are ongoing” to determine if the infrastructure is available.

To date, COVID-19 tests have been limited to certain states and countries, and have been implemented with the support of airlines. The State of Hawaii was one of the first destinations to require every arriving traveler to take a test prior to travel, while nations like Aruba and Belize worked with JetBlue and American to open flights from the U.S.

Although airlines previously supported a testing plan to end border closures, it’s unclear if the carriers will embrace this plan as willingly. To streamline options, United Airlines introduced the Travel Ready Center as part of their digital experience to find testing locations. Meanwhile, both American and JetBlue worked with health partners to offer at-home test kits to passengers.

International Travel Remains Most Impacted by Administration Changes

While a final decision is yet to be made, federal officials are still warning flyers to carefully consider international trips in the immediate future. While the executive order will not include quarantine for those entering the United States, they are asking travelers to not go abroad.

“[The] main message to U.S. citizens considering travel abroad remains the same: Seriously reconsider going overseas right now,” acting assistant secretary of state Ian Brownlee told Reuters. “If you’re overseas right now, it’s going to be harder to come home for a while.”

View Comments (19)


  1. Tack

    January 27, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Biden and his minions have lost their minds. Why stop with mandatory Covid tests for air travel? I say you can’t move from your house unless you have a new test in hand each time.. Old, stupid white man, this will destroy the airline industry and unemployment thousands and divest are our economy.

  2. IkarosBOS

    January 27, 2021 at 10:26 pm

    At which point us deprived flyers, unduly forced to do 60 tests a month despite being vaccinated for a LAS-LAX bi-weekly commute, will attack poor families whose kids are accidentally noted wearing masks below the nose while playing at the public park.

  3. c1ue

    January 28, 2021 at 5:20 am

    If the US federal government wants to kill off the airlines, mandatory COVID testing will do it.
    My wife was informed – 3 days before departure (and Christmas) that she had to take a COVID test before her flight on Christmas day. The resulting frantic search for a rapid testing site – in a major city no less – commenced.
    Rapid testing is not covered by her insurance; multiple calls with the insurer soon revealed that none of their approved providers have rapid testing capability much less having this option covered by the health insurance policy.
    Other options were risky: they offered 1 or 2 day turnaround but could not guarantee results before departure – some due to the holiday and others due to their inherent pipeline potentially being impacted by demand.
    The net net – we found something which cost $250. This was more than 60% added on to her international flight cost.
    If cheap rapid testing were available in the US, I would be more amenable to pre-flight testing requirements but forcing people to pay huge sums to profit testing companies is simply unacceptable. In contrast, a rapid test in the country where my wife went to, costs $20 or $30 even without insurance.
    Instituting testing requirements – particularly 3 days before departure window – for domestic flights means the cost of the test will certainly exceed the cost of the flight if testing before every departure is mandated.
    That will kill domestic travel dead.
    The existing 90%+ fall in travel will become 99%+.

  4. mvoight

    January 28, 2021 at 6:08 am

    That is going to kill a lot of air travel.
    We are going to Tampa for Presidents’ Weekend
    I certainly wouldn’t want to add the cost of COVID tests in each direction

  5. Hawkeyefan

    January 28, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Could be the straw that breaks the airlines back. What a nightmare.

  6. Orange County Commuter

    January 28, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Well I guess we are really trying to kill the airlines.

    Honestly the plane seemed a lot safer then my local grocery story. Mabye we need mandatory testing to go out in public?

  7. Eddie98

    January 28, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    This is the worst idea ever. Already wearing masks and double masks. For us that travel a lot, there is going to be a lot of testing every other week.

  8. Loose Cannon

    January 28, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    VERY BAD IDEA. This will increase the cost of travel and could result in one or more airlines going out of business resulting in a massive loss of jobs. What about those who have to travel at the last minute?

  9. elc2414

    January 29, 2021 at 4:19 am

    And, as the walking cadaver is signing the order he will be be overheard once again saying “I don’t even know what it is I’m signing”.

  10. boze9999

    January 29, 2021 at 7:05 am

    This is the worst idea ever. It will permanently shut down the airline companies, airports, surrounding businesses and put million more into the unemployment line. The trickle down affect is a horrific. I have been flying 1-3 times a month for the past 10 months and also find the planes and airports as hygienic as a hospital, and definitely cleaner than any box stores. It would be impossible to implement this for a round-trip flight of less than three days. The Administration needs to re-focus on vaccinations not economic devastation!

  11. PDog

    January 29, 2021 at 7:59 am

    If Biden is so confident in his mandates he should be presenting them to the congress for consideration instead of making executive orders.

    He knows they’d never pass muster so he just signs orders like a dictator.

  12. wunderpit

    January 29, 2021 at 2:49 pm

    Most, if not all of the replies here are shortsighted. Yes, with the current testing schemes, this wouldn’t work. But with a quick, cheaper saliva tests on-site it could work. Everyone is so flustered about being inconvenienced vs. thinking about the greater good. I’m sure the fear of testing positive as an asymptomatic covid-carrier is an issue, but you shouldn’t be flying if you’re testing positive.

  13. rstruthe

    January 31, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    I’m a bit confused by this comment:

    “At which point us deprived flyers, unduly forced to do 60 tests a month despite being vaccinated for a LAS-LAX bi-weekly commute, will attack poor families whose kids are accidentally noted wearing masks below the nose while playing at the public park.”

    Twice weekly transit from LAS-LAX is 32 flights a month, so 32 tests, not 60…And assuming its a test within 72 hours of travel, thats 8 tests a month….

  14. ak97

    January 31, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    This would be useless without contact tracing. You might as well have it for uber, cabs, trains, buses, subways too. Also school buses and handicap vans.

    Dumb ideal, and dumber the people considering it.

    Contact tracing and mandatory quarantine is the way to go if you want effectiveness. I dont think we Americans have the stomach for it so its not going to happen when thats going to impact on 70=80% of all Americans.

    It would work to nip the next pandemic in the bud if our leaders have the wisdom to learn from past mistakes. LOL

    Yes if its going to effect 0.1 to 1%, no to anything over 5% of population. The cats out of the bag for this episode.

  15. Fornebufox

    January 31, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    This makes sense PROVIDED a convenient testing option is available. Rapid tests at the airport, at a nominal cost–why not? I know, I know, it’s a pipe dream in the US.

  16. nrr

    January 31, 2021 at 9:35 pm

    Why not also daily test subway and local bus riders at each end of their daily commute???


    February 2, 2021 at 4:55 am

    Air travel has already proven itself to be safe. This is completely unnecessary, especially now, with the vaccines rollout, we are entering the closing months of the pandemic. Thankfully this President was not in charge during most of the pandemic. Nobody should be surprised either, if they had read what he was saying during his campaign.

  18. DMIND00

    February 2, 2021 at 7:49 am

    After all I twas the passengers traveling on airlines that brought this virus to the USA. While I do not like it. It has cost millions of USA citizens their jobs and income, let alone others across the globe. I have COVID19 now and I blame the airlines. I have been extremely careful yet I got it. It has cost the airlines 10’s of billions of dollars and will continue to do so. had they done their job and curtailed flights early on we would not be where we are today. This is the consequence. Let alone what measures will take place for the next strange contagious virus to hit the world. It is really I know because I have it and hope I do not develop worse medical complications. All lives mater, be smart and safe.

  19. bozacksmith

    February 2, 2021 at 2:23 pm

    You just now get Covid but somehow are blaming the airlines how exactly lol? As someone else said, airports and planes have never been cleaner, much more so than any box store or gas pump.

    Last I checked we are all adults and choose what we do and not to do so can’t blame any airline when they don’t force people to fly and also you have no idea where you contracted it from in today’s non perfect world.

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