NYC-area airports just introduced another important COVID safety precaution
Due to the pandemic, the travel experience looks a lot different nowadays.
Since March, airlines and airports have implemented a full suite of health-focused enhancements aimed at making travel as safe as it can be. We've seen mask requirements, touchless check-in and boarding changes and more.
Frequent COVID testing is perhaps one of the best ways to monitor and control the spread of the virus. Plus, for many countries, you'll be required to show a recent negative test upon entry.
That's one of the reasons why airports around the world have begun to add on-site testing facilities. Now on Wednesday (Sept. 9), Newark becomes the latest airport to open a COVID testing site open to passengers.
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XpresCheck, a fully owned subsidiary of XpresSpa, first opened a COVID-19 testing center in Newark's Terminal B on Aug. 20. The center launched in a pilot phase for airport employees only. The pilot appears to have been successful since the XpressCheck location has now started to welcome passengers. (JFK has had an XpresCheck facility open in Terminal 4 since June 29.)
Both antibody and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing are available on-site. Specimens are sent to one of three outside laboratories: Enzo, Quest and Northwell Health. You can expect results for the PCR test anywhere from two to five days after testing.
XpresCheck is slated to introduce rapid COVID testing within weeks. According to CEO Doug Satzman, "there will be a fast, 15-minute test available later this month." The Abbott ID Now system will allow the center to handle even more passengers than before.
The XpresCheck location is located on the third level of Terminal B on the south side of the building. The modular site has space for up to nine private testing rooms. All visitors will have their temperatures checked before entering the testing center.
Passengers can walk-in or schedule appointments for the testing center online at xprescheck.com. XpresCheck charges $75 for one test or $90 for both the antibody and PCR test. All insurance plans are accepted outside of network, and all information will remain private and HIPAA-compliant.
The in-airport XpresCheck outpost is definitely a convenient testing option for those passing through the airport. However, with long turnaround times, flyers likely won't be able to use the center before jetting off to a different country that requires proof of a negative test upon arrival. Perhaps the new rapid test will help, but many countries still don't accept rapid tests as adequate proof of being virus-free.
Related: Getting a coronavirus test for travel is getting easier — but isn’t yet a guarantee
XpresCheck is the latest safety-focused innovation coming to NYC-area airports. According to Huntley Lawrence, director of aviation for the Port Authority, "COVID testing is just one of the many different safety layers we have at our facilities."
Indeed, the Port Authority, which manages JFK, LaGuardia and Newark, requires all passengers entering its terminals to wear face coverings. In addition, entry to terminals is restricted to ticketed passengers only.
There are plenty of social distancing markers spread across terminals too. Plexiglass barriers have been installed at physical touchpoints — from check-in to TSA checkpoints to boarding gates.
Touchless check-in and payment options have also been rolled out across Port Authority airports.
Related: LaGuardia's new terminal is a major upgrade — see for yourself
Though demand for travel is still significantly reduced compared to 2019, the Port Authority and XpresCheck are doing their best to welcome you back to the travel experience in a safe, health-focused manner.
All photos by Zach Griff/The Points Guy