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United Starts Offering COVID-19 Tests for Hawaii-Bound Flyers

United Airlines will start offering flyers COVID-19 tests prior to departure on their air route between San Francisco International Airport and destinations in Hawaii, with the goal of managing quarantine requirements before their trip. Passengers will have two options: take a mail-in test at home, or get tested at the airport.

With the goal of encouraging travel and circumventing the need for quarantine periods upon arrival, United Airlines will offer passengers flying between San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and Hawaii COVID-19 testing options. The airline announced the first flights to get the testing option would depart from their Northern California hub on Oct. 15, 2020.

Testing Options Include At-Home and On-Site Swab Tests

As it currently stands, out-of-state visitors to Hawaii are forced to self-quarantine for 14 days out of concern of not spreading the novel Coronavirus. However, that has proven problematic, as most tourists are unable to manage both a vacation to the destination state and a 14-day quarantine.

In order to circumvent the quarantine process and welcome visitors to the state again, United will offer either an at-home or on-site COVID-19 test to flyers departing from San Francisco to three Hawaiian airports: Honolulu Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), Maui Kahului Airport (OGG) and Kona International Airport (KOA).

The on-site tests will be managed by GoHealth Urgent Care, the same company providing COVID-19 tests to airport and airline employees at SFO. To get a test at the airport, outbound flyers must schedule their test in advance, and arrive at the airport before their appointment time. GoHealth promises test results within 15 minutes.

For those who would rather take a test at home, United is working with Color to provide self-collected physician-ordered options. Flyers can purchase the at-home tests at least 10 days before their departure date, and collect samples 72 hours prior to their flight. The tests will be processed by a local CLIA-certified laboratory.

According to United, flyers who provide a negative COVID-19 test 72 hours before their flight will not be subject to Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine requirements. Travelers must present a negative test upon arrival to Hawaii.

Rapid COVID-19 Tests Key to Opening Tourist Destinations

While United is the first American-based airline to offer testing for outbound patients, stakeholders in the aviation industry say it is the right step forward to start opening up travel once again. The International Air Transportation Association says they are working with the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization to offer rapid COVID-19 tests to airports and airlines, while British lawmakers have repeatedly called for a testing plan to end the nation’s mandatory quarantine for arriving passengers.

Yet, flyers are not necessarily convinced that it’s safe to start flying just yet. In an August 2020 Gallup poll, over half of respondents said they were uncomfortable traveling by air for any amount of time.

Feature image courtesy: United Airlines

Podcat February 11, 2021

“Mail-in tests” Seriously? In 2021?

sfoeuroflyer September 25, 2020

Please, please, get governments to back rolling this out on international flights on major airlines

oh912flyer September 25, 2020

Something very wrong here. First, it's 72 hours prior to ARRIVAL in Hawaii, not flight departure. Second, Hawaii recognizes a negative test result ONLY from an NAAT test, not a rapid Antigen or a nont-so-rapid PCR test. I foresee lots of people taking tests, thinking they're OK, and still being quarantined....

Lakeviewsteve September 25, 2020

If you test positive does United refund the $200 test fee and the cost of yur plane ticket?