United Airlines Kicks Off Its Hawaii COVID-19 Testing Program

United Airlines has kicked off its Hawaii COVID-19 testing program. The first passengers traveling to the islands from San Francisco were able to make use of the service this morning. With a negative result, passengers can avoid a mandatory 14-day quarantine when arriving in the state.

United Airlines, Hawaii, COVID-19 Tests
United Airlines has begun its COVID-19 test program between San Francisco and Hawaii. Photo: Getty Images

Travel around the world is currently tightly regulated to try and put a stop to imported cases of the COVID-19 virus. However, every destination seems to have slightly different rules, which can vary depending on your origin. Hawaii has a 14-day quarantine in place for most arrivals, but United’s new program can sidestep this.

United starts passenger COVID tests

United Airlines today began offering COVID-19 tests to passengers traveling to the Hawaiian Islands from San Francisco. The airline is offering two different methods of testing. Firstly, passengers can take a pre-flight test at San Francisco International Airport, producing rapid results.

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However, for those who would rather take the test ahead of their trip, there is another option. They can drive to United Airlines’ maintenance facility at San Francisco’s airport. Here, they can take a drive-through COVID-19 test. Neither test option accepts walk-ins, meaning that tests must be pre-booked.

United Airlines, Hawaii, COVID-19 Tests
Rapid tests are being carried out at the airport, with drive-through tests available at United’s maintenance facility. Photo: United Airlines

Commenting on the roll-out of testing on the route during today’s earnings call, Brett Hart, United Airlines’ president said,

“Today, customers traveling to Hawaii from San Francisco up for the testing will be eligible for exemption from the 14-day state quarantine. Just the next step in improving customer confidence in air travel. We hope to expand this to other hubs and destinations. We’re especially optimistic about the potential that a testing regimen like this have to restart international travel, commerce, and trade.”

As Hawaii lists United Airlines as a trusted travel and testing partner, those who receive a negative result won’t have to quarantine on arrival at LihueMaui, and Honolulu. However, if they are traveling to Kona, a second negative COVID-19 test will be required upon arrival at the island to avoid quarantining.

United Airlines, Hawaii, COVID-19 Tests
United is using the new testing scheme as a blueprint for other routes and destinations. Photo: United Airlines

The start of a more significant program?

It seems that United Airlines is using its San Francisco to Hawaii routes as a testbed for offering COVID-19 tests. While the tests are currently only offered to Hawaii, more destinations could be coming soon. Indeed, during the airline’s Q3 results call earlier, United CEO Scott Kirby commented,

“What we’re doing in particular with Hawaii and San Francisco is we are trying to lay down a blueprint that we think is replicable in other areas. And that will help us open up new markets. So what we expect is it will demonstrate that we can do this in an efficient and a very safe way.”

Would you take a COVID-19 test before traveling if it enabled you to avoid quarantining? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.