American Airlines will now offer at-home testing for domestic flights to US destinations with COVID-19 travel restrictions or quarantine requirements, boosting hopes for safe travel options over the Christmas holidays.
The airline announced that from December 9 customers would be able to book an at-home test – through the company’s partner LetsGetChecked – for flights starting December 12 to all US locations which currently have travel restrictions in place. At present this includes: Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Chicago, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Vermont.
The at-home tests will cost USD$129 and can be undertaken by passengers with supervision by a medical professional via video call. Customers are recommended to order their test 5 days or more before flying, giving them enough time to schedule a UPS pick up of their sample and for results to be returned, which normally takes 48 hours. Passengers will be able to access their results via a secure online portal, which can then be used as evidence of COVID-negative status.
The home-testing program has already been trialed for some international and non-contiguous US destinations, having been made available for all American Airlines flights to Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia, Hawaii and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The roll-out for more domestic locations is a positive sign of the success of the at-home testing trials thus far and indicates that this could be made available for even more destinations in coming months.
Alison Taylor, Chief Customer Officer for American Airlines said in a press release that “We’ve made great strides to help open international travel with our testing partners, and we recognize the need for similar domestic travel solutions,” and that the airline is working on “simplifying the research and COVID-19 testing fulfillment process for an overall more seamless travel experience”. This will be welcome news for travelers looking for a safe and efficient way back to taking flights.
At-Home Testing Boosts Christmas Travel Prospects
The launch of at-home COVID-19 testing comes at an auspicious time, with Americans preparing for the Christmas holiday season amid the pandemic and varying local travel restrictions in place. A number of states have introduced quarantine requirements for people traveling from other locations across the US, potentially making travel over the Christmas period a significant headache.
States including Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania require new arrivals to self-isolate for 14 days unless they can produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test. Consequently, the new testing program being offered by American Airlines will make interstate travel much safer and easier over the Christmas holidays, by ensuring people who travel are COVID-negative and removing the need to quarantine.
The news also gives hope to those looking for some winter sun over the coming weeks and months, with at-home testing now available for flights to tropical destinations such as the Hawaiian Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. American Airlines has made it much easier to reach these destinations without the need for self-isolation – and this could attract significant tourism over the winter months.
The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) continues to advise against travel during the pandemic, but as the Christmas period approaches domestic air travel is likely to increase as Americans move across the country to spend time with their friends and family for the holiday. Already the Thanksgiving period saw the busiest days at US airports since the pandemic began, and further increases in passengers numbers are likely in the coming weeks despite the CDC’s warning.
The availability of at-home tests will, however, improve the safety of air travel over the holidays and help to provide some peace of mind for those meeting loved ones that they can do so at a lower risk of spreading the virus. American Airlines will hope that this extension of the at-home testing trial will encourage more people to return to flying during the pandemic.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories