American joins United and Hawaiian in offering preflight COVID testing

Sep 29, 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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Tuesday’s announcement comes from American Airlines and is the broadest yet. The Fort Worth-based carrier will soon offer preflight COVID testing for travelers to Hawaii, Jamaica and The Bahamas and CARICOM.

Beginning in October, AA will offer 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. The at-home test offers results on average 48 hours upon receipt in the lab, according to an AA spokesperson. The carrier promises to have “more details on the additional testing options for Hawaii travel soon.”

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

As of now, Hawaii is expected to welcome tourists with a negative COVID-19 test on Oct. 15. Arriving passengers who present a negative test within 72 hours of the departure time of their final Hawaii-bound flight segment can skip the mandatory quarantine.

Related: Hawaii pushes back its reopening date to at least Oct. 15

But American isn’t stopping there.

The carrier has a fortress hub in Miami. In November, the carrier is scheduled to operate 1,683 flights to the Caribbean from its Miami hub, according to Cirium. As such, it’s no surprise to see AA work toward offering preflight testing to select Caribbean destinations.

At the outset, the carrier has 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.

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

Should this pilot be successful, the goal is to expand the program to all Jamaica-bound travelers, including U.S. citizens.

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

American joins United and Hawaiian 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 Airlines simplifies COVID-19 screening for passengers headed to Hawaii

Less than two days later, Hawaiian announced that beginning “around Oct. 15,” the carrier will partner with Worksite Labs to provide drive-through PCR testing near LAX and SFO. Hawaiian expects to roll it out to other U.S. gateways soon.

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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