United Airlines Is Now Offering Customers COVID-19 Tests

The program will begin for flights between San Francisco and Hawaii.

Courtesy of United Airlines

We should all be taking a better safe than sorry route when it comes to COVID-19 precautions, especially when it applies to travel, which remains a risky venture amidst the pandemic. But if you are choosing to hop a flight, it's important to get tested ahead of time for the health and safety of yourself and others. Now, United Airlines will help you achieve that. 

The Chicago-based carrier announced plans Thursday to offer easy coronavirus testing for customers flying between San Francisco International Airport and Hawaii. According to the press release, travelers can opt in on either a rapid test the day of their flight or a self-collected, mail-in test prior to traveling. Though the program, which is set to begin October 15, will only be offered in SF for the time-being, the airline is hoping to bring COVID testing to other major hubs. The company opted to premiere the testing between the destinations because of the high volume of flights. 

"Our new COVID testing program is another way we are helping customers meet their destinations’ entry requirements, safely and conveniently," chief customer officer Toby Enqvist said in a statement. "We’ll look to quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year to complement our state-of-the-art cleaning and safety measures that include a mandatory mask policy, antimicrobial and electrostatic spraying and our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems."

For those that choose the mail-in test, United will send the necessary materials and instructions for customers to administer it themselves 72 hours before travel. You can then either overnight your kit or drop it off at SFO directly. Results will become available 24 hours later, so you can plan accordingly should you get a positive back. The day-of rapid test, however, will take 15 minutes for results. The carrier has partnered with GoHealth Urgent Care for the latter test while the mail-in tests will be provided by Color.

"We are excited about expanding our partnership with United and continuing to support their proactive safety measures,” CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care Todd Latz said in the press release. "Our on-site, real-time testing for passengers is yet another example of GoHealth’s nationwide efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 and ensure a safer return to normal activities and business operations."

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Megan Schaltegger is a staff writer at Thrillist.