If you could book a seat on a flight where you were guaranteed not to catch coronavirus, would you do it?
Alitalia is an airline betting that the answer to that question is “yes.”
The Italian national carrier has announced that it will trial flights between Rome and Milan where every single passenger has to confirm that they have tested negative for the virus. These flights are identified as “Covid-tested.”
There are two ways to do that: by getting tested within 72 hours of flying and bringing a negative certificate to the airport, or by getting a negative result of a rapid antigen test at the airport’s Covid testing facility. These flights will have a dedicated security line for extra safety.
And the test alone isn’t enough for a boarding pass: “Before boarding, a Ministry of Maritime, Air and Border Health (USMAF) doctor will check the validity of the certificate already held by passengers,” Alitalia explained in a statement.
Right now, this testing procedure isn’t significantly different from what many airlines are doing around the world. But labeling the flight “Covid-tested” could provide much-appreciated peace of mind to travelers who are antsy about boarding a plane amid a pandemic.
Aviation blog One Mile at a Time notes that some of these flights are already available for booking on Alitalia’s website and that they are the same price as the non-earmarked flights serving the route.
For Alitalia, the way ahead is not only about making passengers feel safe on board.
Earlier this month, Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO) was recently given Europe’s first (and so far only) five-star “Anti-Covid” award from international airline ratings body Skytrax. The airline has transformed one of its parking lots into a mobile Covid testing facility, available to travelers and non-travelers alike.
It’s unclear what will happen with the “Covid-tested flights,” though. Does this mean passengers would not have to wear masks on board, or that the airline will be able to fill middle seats?
For now, this experiment remains an experiment.