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United Airlines Expands COVID-19 Testing to Newark-London Route

United Airlines Expands COVID-19 Testing to Newark-London Route
Joe Cortez

After launching a pilot program to offer same-day COVID-19 testing for flyers departing San Francisco for Hawaii, United Airlines is expanding their offerings to another trans-ocean flight. The Chicago-based carrier will offer a free COVID-19 test to all flyers two-years-old and older on flights from Newark to London between Nov. 16 and Dec. 11, 2020.

United Airlines is expanding their COVID-19 testing plans to now include a trans-Atlantic corridor. The Chicago-based airline announced they will offer a free test to all flyers two and older on select flights departing Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) between Nov. 16 and Dec. 11, 2020.

Trial Intended to Demonstrate Effectiveness of Testing Over Quarantine

During the trial period, those booked on United Flight 14, departing EWR for LHR Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 7:15 p.m., will be asked to take a rapid COVID-19 test, free of charge, on the same day they depart. Flyers must make an appointment ahead of time, and are encouraged to make them at least three hours before their flight. Those who do not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight.

The airline has a two-fold goal for offering the free tests. First, the airline wants to ensure all passengers on the selected flights have tested negative for the novel Coronavirus infection. Second, the airline intends to share the information with international partners, to demonstrate that a testing plan may be an effective option instead of a 14-day quarantine mandate.

“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,” Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United, said in a press release. “Through this pilot program, we’ll guarantee that everyone [two-years-old and above] on board has tested negative for COVID-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety.”

The “rapid” nasal swab exam is similar to the one United is offering to flyers departing San Francisco International Airport (SFO) for four Hawaiian airports. The carrier worked with Hawaiian authorities to ensure those who took the test and had a negative result would be able to bypass the state’s quarantine regulation for inbound travelers.

More Airlines Petition for Rapid Testing Options to Open Borders

The move is the latest to encourage governments to use a testing protocol instead of mandating quarantine for arriving travelers. In his first speech as British Airways’ chief executive, Sean Doyle called on his home government to start offering testing plans, and end the 14-day quarantine requirement for all travelers.

As it stands today, most foreign travelers entering the United Kingdom must quarantine for 14 days, to ensure they do not spread the novel Coronavirus. In addition, both the United States and the European Union have reciprocal closed borders to tourists, which industry leaders say is hurting multiple industries on both sides of the Atlantic.

View Comments (3)


  1. edgewood49

    October 31, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    London is closed down !!

  2. FlyingNone

    October 31, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Just in time for all the new lockdown in the U.K.

  3. sfoeuroflyer

    November 2, 2020 at 11:40 am

    A very good initiative. But government bureaucrats incapable of expansive thinking stand in the way of widespread adoption. When will we learn that these bureaucrats are making things worse and inflicting terrible harm.

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