United Airlines simplifies COVID-19 screening for passengers headed to Hawaii

Sep 24, 2020

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Hawaii is getting ready to welcome tourists without a mandatory 14-day quarantine. Maybe for real this time?

The 50th state has pushed back its reopening several times, but the tourism industry is hoping it sticks. As of now, Oct. 15 is the date that tourists will be able to enter with a negative COVID-19 test, and United Airlines is working to help facilitate that process for passengers flying from San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

As part of its latest pandemic-related program, United won’t be administering the tests directly. Instead, the airline is partnering with GoHealth and Color, both of which are approved by the state of Hawaii to administer tests for travelers.

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Photo courtesy of United Airlines.
Photo courtesy of GoHealth and United Airlines.

GoHealth Urgent Care has been testing United’s international crew members at SFO since July, and now the company will expand its offering to include Hawaii-bound United flyers. The facility is open from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. daily, and offers rapid tests, with results in 15 minutes. Travelers can make reservations before they arrive — for now, the service costs $250, but the price could fall as capacity increases in the coming weeks.

Alternatively, United flyers can opt for an $80 mail-in test from Color. The airline recommends that travelers begin the process 10 days before their travel, and collect a sample no more than 72 hours in advance of their trip before returning it via overnight mail or a dropbox at SFO. Results will arrive via email and text within 24-48 hours.

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

United said the move makes it the first U.S. carrier to unveil a COVID testing program for travelers. United also seems to suggest the program could be rolled out more broadly if the Hawaii initiative is successful, saying it “could make it easier for [travelers] to manage quarantine requirements and entry conditions of popular destinations around the world.”

As for Hawaii, United is currently offering daily nonstop service from San Francisco to Honolulu (HNL), Kona (KOA) and Maui (OGG). The carrier plans to resume daily flights to Kauai (LIH) as well, assuming Hawaii does in fact open to test-wielding tourists on Oct. 15.

Featured photo courtesy of GoHealth and United Airlines.




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