Today saw United Airlines customers travelling on Flight 14 from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR, serving the New York region) to London Heathrow Airport (LHR) become the first to experience the airline’s pilot programme for Covid-safe transatlantic flights. The airline provided the rapid tests free of charge to every passenger aged over two years old and all crew members on board, with a negative test required prior to boarding.
The rapid ‘Abbott ID Now’ test for SARS-Cov-2 – administered by Premise Health – was offered onsite at a testing facility located at the Newark United Club near Gate C93. The test will continue to be used with passengers traveling on United Flight 14, which will depart at 19:15 von Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next four weeks. Customers booking these flights have the option to confirm their willingness to participate in the trial or be accommodated on another flight. Customers who opt-in will receive information prior to travel in order to schedule a testing appointment at least three hours before their flight departs. All customers are still subject to current UK entry requirements, including the 14-day quarantine rule. For more information on the testing scheme, visit HERE.
“These flights are a good proof-of-concept for governments around the world that are considering making testing part of the travel experience,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United. “Expanding our testing efforts with pilot programmes like this one not only helps guarantee that passengers [over 2 years of age]onboard have tested negative for Covid-19, it also adds another element to our layered approach to safety and demonstrates a way to work within quarantines to key international destinations.”
United has invited governments on both sides of the Atlantic to observe this pilot programme and to assess its effectiveness as an alternative to mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions. United has seen a positive impact on travel demand and reports “significant increases” in customer load factors as well as revenue when testing options are available.