As countries begin to reopen to tourists, they want to ensure that visitors aren’t bringing the virus with them. That’s why nearly every country currently open to U.S. citizens requires a recent negative test.
Getting a fast and reliable Covide-19 screening test remains a challenge for many across the country. Airlines recognize that — and in many cases, accessing preflight testing is a major roadblock to getting would-be travelers in the skies.
The solution? Offer passengers an easy and convenient preflight testing option. That way, flyers know that they have access to a reliable test and airlines can stimulate some demand.
Henry Harteveldt, president at Atmosphere Research Group, said it best in an interview with TPG: “it all boils down to one word — confidence. If people are confident that they can get tested, then they will be more confident to travel.”
In the weeks leading up to Hawaii’s reopening, United Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to offer preflight testing options for travelers from San Francisco headed to the 50th state. In partnership with GoHealth Urgent Care and Dignity Health, United has opened an on-site rapid testing center that promises to deliver results in about 15 minutes. This means that flyers won’t have to worry about making appointments or turnaround times at other clinics. (There’s also a cheaper, at-home option as well.)
United partnered with Hawaii officials to ensure that if you test negative on one of these COVID tests, you won’t need to quarantine upon arrival. It’s not just airlines that are making preflight testing readily available to passengers. Airports are jumping on the bandwagon too.
These initiatives aren’t just about reducing the barriers to leisure travel, though. In a way, they’re sowing the seeds for the future of business travel. Harteveldt reasoned that offering preflight testing is a “subtle message” to business travelers: “If you need to travel for business, you can come to the airport and get an on-site test.” With the “autumn of discontent” just beginning, carriers are looking for anything to help stimulate business demand.
Either way, the airlines win by making it easier for customers to take to the skies. States and countries benefit from being able to safely reopen and bring in tourism dollars. Perhaps most importantly, customers enjoy a convenient testing option. Plus, as competition increases, hopefully the cost of testing decreases over time. And perhaps one day, a rapid COVID test might even be included with your booking (link to: see story about 3 second screening test that was developed in Chile’).
Source: The Points Guy