Southwest Airlines flyers can now get a COVID-19 test in the mail before travel

Jan 12, 2022

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If you’ve traveled abroad in the last year, you’re likely familiar with the testing mandate that all travelers need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken one day before flying back to the U.S.

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Unfortunately, it’s been tough to get a COVID-19 test abroad in some countries right now, due in part to both the omicron surge as well as the shorter testing window to renter the U.S.

But Southwest Airlines seems to have found an easier way for passengers to get a COVID-19 test for travel: Mailing a kit to your home.

The Dallas-based airline announced it’s partnering with the testing company CityHealth to mail out COVID-19 tests to international passengers. The test is approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for travel purposes. The kit normally costs $75, but Southwest passengers can lock in a discounted rate of $50 per test.

“Since it was launched, the RapidReturn kit has been one of our most popular [COVID-19] testing options,” Sean Parkin, CityHealth’s CEO, said in a statement. “We’re thrilled to be working with Southwest Airlines to offer their passengers an easy, accurate, affordable and convenient way to return home safely. The quick return of results will help Southwest passengers stay in compliance with the new one-day testing rule.”

Travelers can order their RapidReturn test kit directly through the CityHealth website. Test kits are shipped Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. PST and tests ordered after 3 p.m. PST on Friday will be shipped Monday. That means if you have a weekend trip planned, you may want to order your test kit early in the week.

According to the company, travelers can pack their test kits before travel and use a secure portal when it’s time to test. The results will be available in the portal and are approved for flights back to the U.S.

The CDC accepts a handful of at-home tests for use by inbound passengers, such as Abbott’s BinaxNow COVID-19 Home Test and Qured’s video-supervised rapid antigen test. So, there are other at-home options if you need a COVID-19 test for a flight back to the U.S. Just make sure to order your test with enough time for shipping.

Featured photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

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