United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines finally figured out that the government was not going to help them fill up planes by offering a comprehensive, fast, reliable, affordable COVID-19 testing regime. So now both carriers will offer it themselves. Neither offers an ideal solution, but both mark progress toward the goal of making travel as safe as possible again.
United Airlines Offer COVID-19 Testing To Hawaii-Bound Passengers
Yesterday, Untied Airlines announced COVID-19 testing available to Hawaii-bound passengers in San Francisco (SFO). Hawaii is set to open next month, but will require a 14-day quarantine absent a negative COVID-19 test.
United will offer two options, an on-site airport option with results in 15 minutes or a cheaper mail-in option:
“The rapid Abbott ID NOW COVID-19 test – administered by GoHealth Urgent Care and their partner Dignity Health – provides results in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO. The mail-in test option will be administered by Color and it is recommended that customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.”
United Airlines will charge $250 for an airport test and $80 for a self-test kit. Either test will be valid, if negative, to avoid quarantine.
Hawaiian Airlines Offers COVID-19 Testing To Hawaii-Bond Passengers
Today, Hawaiian Airlines announced its own COVID-19 testing program. It will partner with Worksite Labs to offer drive-through PCR testing in Los Angeles and the Bay Area as it also seeks to ramp up flights to Hawaii next month.
Hawaiian’s prices are cheaper than United’s, at $90 for results within 36 hours or $150 for same-day express service.
It’s About Time Airlines Stepped Up…
I’m frankly shocked it took so long for airlines to start offering their own service. As far as I can tell, adequate and reliable testing is foundational in bringing travel back (even with a vaccination).
I think the pricing is much too high (especially considering many insurance companies do not charge for COVID-19 testing if ordered by a doctor), but even $250 is a small price to pay versus two weeks of quarantine.
This is but the first step in a process that will be fine-tuned in the months to come. Both United and Hawaiian offer helpful options versus simply leaving it in your hands to find a testing facility.
It’s not that I believe that federal or state governments are best suited to solve all of our problems, but this sort of situation cries out for a standardized approach. Rather than throw another $25 billion welfare check at airlines, why not invest that in a fast, effective testing system that will actually spur people to feel safe and start traveling again?
United and Hawaiian should be applauded for stepping up and being the first and second airlines to offer COVID-19 testing to passengers. And with change fees no longer in effect, this is also a new ancillary revenue opportunity. More so than a central mask policy, though, I think standardized national testing is key in restoring confidence to travel and getting people safely back in the air.