American Airlines further expands preflight COVID testing options

Nov 3, 2020

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Preflight COVID testing seems like it could be on its way to becoming a baseline amenity offered by all major airlines.

As states and countries continue to reopen, many have implemented a mandatory 14-day quarantine for arriving passengers. However, if you present a recent negative COVID test, some territories will let you skip the mandatory isolation.

And until there’s a vaccine or therapeutic available, preflight testing remains one of the best ways to mitigate the spread of the virus. Plus, unless you must be somewhere, odds are that you aren’t ready to spend 14 days in quarantine before beginning a vacation or work meeting.

That’s why we’ve seen airlines race to offer convenient testing options for passengers.

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On Monday, American announced an expansion of its preflight testing options.

Specifically, the Fort Worth-based carrier will add additional destinations to its original list that was announced back in late September.

Starting on Nov. 16, AA will offer travelers to Belize, Grenada and St. Lucia an at-home test PCR test in partnership with LetsGetChecked for $129. The at-home test offers results on average 48 hours upon receipt in the lab

AA’s push to offer preflight testing to the Caribbean countries makes sense. The carrier has a fortress hub in Miami, often seen as the gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America.

In December, American will offer 310 flights to the aforementioned countries, according to the latest schedule data loaded to Cirium. Even when you combine its three main competitors on these routes — Delta, JetBlue and United — AA still offers more seats to these countries.

Additionally, AA will expand its partnership with LetsGetChecked for select Hawaii flights.

Since mid-October, AA has offered three testing options for flyers headed to Hawaii. If you’re flying from Dallas-Fort Worth to Honolulu or Maui, you’re eligible to take a $129 at-home nasal PCR test administered by LetsGetChecked, an in-person test at a CareNow urgent care location or a preflight rapid test at DFW administered by CareNow.

Beginning Nov. 2, Hawaii-bound flyers from Chicago, Los Angeles and Phoenix can sign up for an at-home PCR test administered by LetsGetChecked.

The Four Seasons in Oahu is a great Hawaiian resort (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

On Sept. 29, American announced that it inked a partnership with the Jamaican government to offer testing for Jamaican residents traveling back home. If a passenger tests negative ahead of flying with American, the currently mandated 14-day quarantine would be waived. The test will be conducted on-site at the Miami Airport.

Related: Is Hawaii open for travel?

Unfortunately, however, that testing program is currently paused — and the carrier is working with the local authorities to restart it as soon as possible.

An AA jet in Miami (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Likewise, American is still in talks to bring a similar preflight testing experience to the Bahamas and other surrounding CARICOM (Caribbean Community) nations — a grouping of 20 Caribbean countries.

American joins United, Alaska and Hawaiian (among others) in offering preflight testing for its passengers. United led the charge when it announced that Hawaii-bound flyers can get tested on-site at the San Francisco airport GoHealth Urgent Care outpost for $250 or at-home via an $80 mail-in test from Color.

Related: United will offer free COVID testing for select London-bound passengers

On Oct. 29, United announced another preflight testing innovation. On select Newark to London flights, the Chicago-based carrier will offer free rapid tests before departure, guaranteeing that everyone on the plane had tested negative for the virus.

As countries continue to reopen with negative COVID test requirements, expect to see airlines expand their pre-flight testing offerings.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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