United to Offer Free COVID-19 Tests on London Flights

Thursday, 29 Oct 2020

United to Offer Free COVID-19 Tests on London Flights

United Airlines have announced plans to trial pre-flight COVID-19 testing from next month to passengers travelling to London in efforts to curb concerns about the virus and get around travel restrictions.

From November 16 to December 11, United will test travellers flying to Heathrow from its hub in Newark. The airline will pay for the testing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday departures. 

According to the airline, passengers who do not wish to be tested will be moved to other flights to ensure “everyone on board other than children under two will have tested negative before departure,”

Travel bans and restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic have caused great damage to airlines all over the world and United, along with other carriers, are turning to pre-flight testing as a potential way to avoid quarantine periods and increase passenger numbers. 

A group that represents the interests of 20 trade groups from American Airlines to Boeing wrote to the Trump administration last week stating, “this patchwork of rules is confusing and discourages travel”. Continuing, the letter proposes testing of passengers as alternatives to quarantines and suggests this could significantly reduce the risk of “importation” of the virus. 

Earlier this month, United started offering coronavirus tests to some passengers traveling from San Francisco to Hawaii. A move that coincided with the island’s removal of a 14 day self-isolation period for arrivals who tested negative within 72 hours of their departure. 

Those customers wishing to get tested for the London flights must book their appointment in advance and the tests will take place in the United Club lounge.

Feedback from the trial will be shared to both the US and UK governments while United have already said travel demand has increased when travelers have had the option to test prior to their flight.

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