American Airlines is leaning into preflight coronavirus testing in an effort to get passengers to return to the skies.
The airline is collaborating with local governments in Jamaica, the Bahamas, and Hawaii on its preflight testing program, which is scheduled to begin in Miami and Dallas-Fort Worth in October, according to a press release.
American Airlines will begin preflight testing for Hawaii-bound passengers from its Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) hub starting on Oct. 15. Passengers will have three options: Take a test from home during a virtual clinic visit, get an in-person test at a CareNow urgent care location, or take an on-site rapid test.
Results for in-home tests typically take around 48 hours to process, the airline said. Customers will be responsible for paying a $129 testing fee.
American is the third U.S. airline to announce a preflight testing program for travelers to Hawaii. The state also plans to waive quarantine requirements beginning on Oct. 15 for visitors who have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of their departure.
Earlier this month, United Airlines announced that it would launch a coronavirus testing program for Hawaii-bound passengers from its San Francisco hub starting on Oct. 15. It will offer rapid tests at the airport. Meanwhile, Hawaiian Airlines plans to offer drive-thru coronavirus tests near Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
In Miami, American Airlines plans to start by testing Jamaican residents returning home to the island. Any Jamaican resident who tests negative for COVID-19 ahead of their flight will be able to skip the required 14-day quarantine currently imposed on returning residents.
Should the pilot program go well, American plans to extend it to all Jamaica-bound passengers, including U.S. tourists. A successful effort “could be a game-changer, not just for tourism, but also for other key sectors of the economy that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic,” Audrey Marks, Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, said in a statement.
American hasn’t yet revealed the details of its testing plans for the Bahamas. It does expect that effort could eventually extend to up to 20 Caribbean islands.
“We view this as an important step in our work to accelerate an eventual recovery of demand,” American Airlines president Robert Isom said.
Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.
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