First United Airlines Flight Offering Free Transatlantic COVID-19 Testing Takes Off

Published on : Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Today, United customers traveling on flight 14 from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR) were the first to experience the airline’s free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program. The airline provided rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old and all crew members on board, free of charge, guaranteeing everyone* on the flight tested negative prior to departure.

“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 for United. “Expanding our testing efforts with pilot programs like this one not only helps guarantee passengers* onboard test 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.”

The rapid Abbott ID Now COVID-19 test – 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, departing at 7:15 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next four weeks. Customers booking these flights will 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 U.K. entry requirements, including the 14-day quarantine rule.

United has invited governments on both sides of the Atlantic to observe this pilot program and to assess its effectiveness as an alternative to mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions. United has seen a positive impact on travel demand and significant increases in customer load factors as well as revenue when testing options are available.

Before the pandemic, United operated six daily flights between New York/Newark and London Heathrow on a 767-300ER (76L), offering not only the most frequency among U.S. carriers, but also the most business class and Premium Economy seats.

Since the start of the pandemic, United has been a leader among U.S. airlines in enacting new policies and innovations designed to keep employees and passengers safe when traveling. It was the first U.S. airline to mandate masks for flight attendants, quickly followed by all customers and employees. United was also among the first U.S. carriers to announce it would not permit customers who refused to comply with the airline’s mandatory mask policy to fly with them, while the face mask policy is in place. United was also the first U.S. airline to roll out touchless check-in for customers with bags and the first to require passengers to take an online health self-assessment before traveling. Additionally, last month, the airline announced it will apply Zoono Microbe Shield, an EPA registered antimicrobial coating that forms a long-lasting bond with surfaces and inhibits the growth of microbes, to its entire mainline and express fleet before the end of the year.

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