United Airlines on Oct. 15 will begin a Covid-19 testing program for passengers traveling to Hawaii from San Francisco, allowing passengers with negative results exemption from Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine requirement.
United is giving passengers two options for testing. One is the rapid Abbott ID Now Covid-19 test, which last month gained approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for mass-scale testing. Passengers can schedule appointments on their day of travel and undergo testing at the airport, with results ready in 15 minutes. The carrier is working with GoHealth Urgent Care, which since July already has been testing United’s international flight crews, for the testing.
The second option will be mail-in tests managed by clinical testing provider Color. Booked passengers traveling to Hawaii from San Francisco will get the option to order the test kits, in which users collect and send in their own specimen with a nasal swab, at least 10 days prior to departure. They will then collect their samples and send them via overnight mail or a drop box at the airport 72 hours prior to departure, and results will be returned via text or email within two days.
United said it worked with Hawaii officials to clarify that any traveler with negative results would not be required to quarantine upon arrival.
Pricing for the testing, which will be the passenger’s responsibility, currently is $80 for the mail-in option and $250 for the at-airport testing, a cost that is subject to change, according to a United spokesperson. Passengers still can board without testing, though they will be subject to quarantine requirements upon arrival, he said.
The testing start date coincides with United’s planned increase of service to Hawaii, including additional flights to Maui and Kona and resuming service to Lihue. United plans to “quickly expand customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year,” according to United chief customer officer Toby Enqvist.