As many within the travel industry have realized, recovery is going to be multifaceted, with COVID-19 testing being of high importance.
Airlines are beginning to adapt and are incorporating testing into the experience of flying, seen with United Airlines kicking off their free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program, lasting four weeks, on November 16.
On a flight from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR), the airline provided rapid tests to every passenger over two years old and all crew members on board, free of charge, guaranteeing passengers 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.
Enqvist went on to explain how expanding United's testing efforts with pilot programs like this one not only helps guarantee passengers two years of age and older onboard test negative for COVID-19, it also adds another element to the airline's layered approach to safety and demonstrates a way to work within quarantines to key international destinations.
The tests are Administered by Premise Health at the United Club near gate C93 at New York/Newark, with results provided to passengers in approximately 30 minutes. Testing is free to travelers booked on the select flights and is mandatory for boarding.
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.
COVID-19 testing is certainly a hot topic and will remain so within the greater travel industry.
In a recent U.S. Travel Association webinar, Dr. Mike Parkinson, U.S. Travel's chief medical consultant, broke down the different types of tests being used, the reliability of each and what value they may or may not have for the recovery of the travel industry. Webinar participants also heard from MGM Resorts International on how they are utilizing testing, among other measures, to create a layered approach for healthier and safer environments throughout their venues and events.
To view the webinar on testing in its entirety, click here.
Written by Sarah Suydam, Managing Editor for Groups Today.