United customers travelling on flight 14 on 16 November from Newark to London Heathrow were the first to experience the airline’s free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot programme.
The airline provided rapid tests to every passenger over two 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 travelling 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 programme 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.