United Airlines to offer Covid-19 testing for some passengers

Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace, CNNUpdated 29th September 2020
A United Airlines plane prepares to take off at the Benito Juarez International airport in Mexico City, on March 20, 2020. - International flights keep operating in Mexico, unlike most other countries which have closed airports due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. (Photo by PEDRO PARDO / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO PARDO/AFP via Getty Images)
(CNN) — United Airlines will become the first US airline to offer coronavirus testing to some of its passengers.
In a pilot testing program that the airline plans to extend to other destinations, United will offer testing for Hawaii-bound passengers beginning October 15 out of San Francisco.
The testing will help passengers avoid an otherwise mandatory, 14-day quarantine in Hawaii.
United said it will use a rapid, 15-minute test administered by GoHealth Urgent Care at the airport.
The GoHealth option at the airport will initially be $250, United said.
United previously offered a mail-in test option, but the state of Hawaii will not accept those results.
The normally tourism-driven island state is seeing 70% fewer flights, 91% less TSA checkpoint traffic, and 94% less travel into the state compared with usual, according to numbers from Airlines for America.
United's move corresponds with Hawaii's announcement of a pretravel testing program beginning on October 15.
Hawaiian Airlines is also offering a testing option for passengers heading to the Aloha state.
The new rules allow visitors to avoid the mandatory 14-day quarantine, as long as they "provide written confirmation from a state approved Covid-19 testing facility of a negative test result from a test administered to the traveler within 72 hours from the final leg of departure," according to a September 23 news release from the Hawaii governor's office.
United plans to expand customer testing to other destinations and US airports later this year, according to the airline's announcement.
On September 22, the International Air Transport Association called for coronavirus testing at the airport as a requirement for all passengers and airplane crew members before international flights.
The group, which represents about 290 airlines worldwide, called on governments to set up and fund the testing regimen.