Starting November, United Airlines will test for the coronavirus for a month for passengers over 2 years old on select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Heathrow Airport in London to convince government officials that testing could be a vital part of reopening international travel.
United will conduct the Abbott ID Now Rapid Covid-19 Molecular Test for people flying on Flight 14 between November 11 and December 11 and departing Newark at 7.15 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Anyone wishing to be on these flights must do a negative test in order for the coronavirus to board the plane. Those who test positive will be isolated and asked to contact their doctor and the airline will help them book a flight for a later date. People who do not want to take the test will be transferred to another flight.
“We believe the ability to have quick, same-day Covid-19 tests will play an important role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, especially to key international destinations like London” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United. According to the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, international flight arrivals at New York’s five regional airports fell 82 percent in September compared to September 2019.
People on the flights must make appointments to be tested and the airline advises them to arrive at least three hours before a flight. The test location in Newark is in the United Club near Gate C93.
The pilot program is designed to make passengers feel like they are traveling again, but does not replace practices such as wearing masks, social distancing and boarding and alighting protocols that have become mandatory in recent months. Passengers must continue to adhere to quarantine rules upon arrival in London.
The test follows United and other airlines offering coronavirus testing to people traveling from the mainland to Hawaii, where those with a negative test can skip the state’s 14-day quarantine. Travel industry experts believe tests will allow people to bypass quarantines and start international travel all over again, and United’s leadership team is hoping the test will lead to further tests at airports.