United to be 1st airline to offer COVID-19 testing

Posted on Sep 28 2020

In hopes to start having customers fly again, United Airlines announced last Sept. 24 that they will offer COVID-19 tests to their customers, making them the first U.S. carrier to offer testing.

United customers who are traveling between San Francisco and Hawaii will have the option to get tested before they board their flight. This will start on Oct. 15. A negative result will allow passengers to skip the mandatory 14-day quarantine that Hawaii requires.

Though this is good news for passengers who fly between San Francisco and Hawaii, both Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. chief executive officer Esther Muña and Governor’s COVID-19 Task Force chair Warren Villagomez said it’s not applicable in the CNMI.

Muña said the protocols for the CNMI is different than Hawaii’s. Villagomez says that testing on the first and fifth day will continue as is in order to catch the positives and isolate them as soon as they identify them.

According to a United statement, Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United Airlines, said this new COVID-19 testing program is another way to help their customers meet their destinations’ entry requirements safely and conveniently. Enqvist says that United is looking into “quickly” expanding customer testing to other destinations and U.S. airports later this year to suit their cleaning and safety measures.

The pilot program will launch at the same time that United begins to intensify service to Hawaii come Oct. 15, including the resumption of service between San Francisco and Lihue and additional flights between San Francisco and Maui and Kona. Additionally, United offers daily service between San Francisco and Honolulu, Maui, and Kona.

According to United, last July, they partnered with GoHealth Urgent Care Rapid Test to test its international flight with San Francisco International Airport. GoHealth is using the same platform that CHCC is using, which is the Abbott ID Now COVID-19 testing, and are the ones who are conducting the on-site testing.

Customers who are flying through United and want to get tested will have to schedule their visits online in advance for the on-sight testing facility that will be in the international terminal. Customers will receive their results in approximately 15 minutes.

“We are excited about expanding our partnership with United and continuing to support their proactive safety measures,” said Todd Latz, CEO of GoHealth Urgent Care. “Our on-site, real-time testing for passengers is yet another example of GoHealth’s nationwide efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 and ensure a safer return to normal activities and business operations.”

Justine Nauta | Correspondent
Justine Nauta is Saipan Tribune's community and health reporter and has covered a wide range of news beats, including the Northern Marianas College and Commonwealth Health Care Corp. She's currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation and Human Services at NMC.
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