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.
Keep in mind the Pixel by Labcorp mail in test is available to anyone at no charge to the consumer. The consumer can input their insurance information for billing, or if they select no insurance, the test charges will be billed to the federal government. I submitted one of these kits on a Friday, arrived by Fedex Saturday, results in the system 3:00 AM hour Saturday night. They also ship everything back and forth by Fedex Priority overnight including Saturday delivery. The Fedex shipping is paid by Labcorp, and a consumer can easily request a Fedex Express pickup. I’ve ordered two of these kits so far. Also got one MD ordered test for travel purposes billed to insurance rather than billed to my credit card as in these airline tests.
I had no idea. Thanks for sharing, Boston.
@Boston thank you so much for this info! My city’s “rapid” testing is realistically a week+ lead time so I’ve been looking at other options.
Aloha Boston, Thank you for the info. I just want to note that Ige and Lt Gov Green have said that Hawaii will not allow the mail in tests. You will need to have the test performed by a medical professional and sent to a lab. It appears that they will not require a PCR test performed by a CLIA certified lab like they originally required. The Abbott rapid test has been approved for UA and HA so I expect that they will accept it from other medical offices. We can only hope that common sense will prevail.
@David do you have a source for that requirement? The at-home kit is still a PCR test. The rapid test UA is touting I believe is also a molecular test, not an antigen test, which is allowed.
Having done an at-home test for MA travel I can attest it would be exceptionally hard for the state — assuming they are checking closely even — to tell if it was mailed in or not. The reality is most of the tests you take get sent off to a lab somewhere else and actually doing the swab is not hard. If you want to fake it, why even send in a test? Just mock up a piece of paper.
Ok I read that the Abbott test cost only $5.00. So why are they charging $250?
Its a shame that the airlines dont pick up the cost themselves. As much as they are hurting for business, they should do whatever is necessary to attract nee customers. Instead, it looks like they are trying to price-gouge the customers so they can make more money.
I had a covid test set for 72hr as required, booked my flight to Maui in April, and get an email from Hawaiian Airlines last night that my flight was canceled for October 22nd, with absolutely no explanation as to why. Screw you Hawaiian Airlines
Okay but it’s the Hawaiian government that finally allowed this. Not the airlines finally doing it. As soon as they knew this was allowed the got a plan in action. Misleading tone.
Hawaii is not accepting mail-in test as valid
Hawaii won’t accept the mail in test because there is no way of validating that the person claiming to have taken the test actually took it. I think that is reasonable.
God forbid that the “pro business” Drumpf led Federal cluster@#$k actually have a centralized logical plan. Vote this loser out before he kills all of us as well as the economy!
This still isn’t going to get most people to travel. Let’s say a family of 4 is planning a trip to Hawaii. Plane tickets, lodging, rent a car. That’s at least $4,000-$5,000. So you check in at the airport and everyone walks up to the Covid testing.
If just one of you test positive, that’s it. No one is allowed on the plane. At this point, it’s too late to cancel your flight. You’re probably out of luck. Too late to cancel your hotel reservation. You can canc your rent a car. So you’re out several thousand dollars. And with many people being asymptomatic. It’s possible you don’t even think you have it.
I don’t know why people would risk $1000 of dollars. I don’t think people are going to travel on airplanes until quarantine is off the table.
I think airport testing is completely needed, people will keep travelling regardless of quarantine in my opinion. At least this way there is some safety concerns being addressed. As far as just one airline implementing this, I find kind of ridiculous with everything going on and them wanting people flying again. I am following all this quite closely as it unfolds which actually led me to learning about a company that has been pivoting over to testing since nearly the beginning of quarantine in Airports across the entire country (Xprescheck) to my understanding they have been working out logistics of testing workers/flyers in airports they already have retail space in with Abbott rapid testing rolling out. They already have contracts with some big name airports. I look forward to see what comes of Xprescheck and airport testing in general.