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For those who do feel comfortable traveling right now, the first question is: where’s safe? The next is where can we go without 14 days of quarantine? The answer: without a recent negative covid-19 test to present at the border, there just aren’t many. For United Airlines passengers, getting access to a test will soon become easier.

As more and more destinations require a recent negative covid-19 test, the issue of getting one in the tight time frame required is becoming a great concern. And really, it’s only fair. This is all new – so where do you ever start?

It’s not at all uncommon to be asked for a negative covid-19 test taken within 72 hours of arrival to your destination, which can be seriously challenging, given that you’d need to take the test, and have the results, which can take up to 48 hours delivered in a very timely window. Here’s what United is doing to help.

a large mountain with green vegetation and blue water

United Airlines Hawaii Covid-19 Test

After much delay, Hawaii recently announced plans to reopen to visitors without 14 day quarantine restrictions, provided they bring a recent covid-19 test, taken with 72 hours of arrival. For potential passengers, it’s a huge sigh of relief, but still brings many questions.

Beginning with its hub in San Francisco, United Airlines will assist passengers in gaining access to timely, destination approved covid-19 tests for flights bound for Hawaii, and help them book in person, or mail in appointments. The airline also plans to assist in testing access across a variety of its hubs, as it explores future partnerships.

For free? Not quite. It’s $250, but can be done on the spot at the airport, with results in 15 minutes. Plans suggest the tests will be ready in time for United’s first eligible flight on October 15th.

United’s covid-19 testing in San Francisco will be handled by GoHealth Urgent Care and Dignity Health, according to CNBC.


Covid-19 Testing Is The Trend

With the move, United becomes the latest airline to examine partnerships which make rapid testing easier for travelers, with many airlines also subsidizing testing costs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and United States. The World Travel & Tourism Council has gone as far as to say rapid testing is the only way air travel will ever recover.

In July, Emirates became the first airline to mandate covid-19 testing for all passengers regardless of destination, before also becoming the first airline to include €150,000 of complimentary covid-19 health coverage with every ticket, a move which Virgin Atlantic and Etihad subsequently followed with their own.

It’s great to see airlines adapt, evolve and create new ways to assist passengers even before the journey begins, and if covid-19 testing is the only way to reopen travel responsibly, it’s a small price to pay. Even though you will pay $250, for now…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. According to Bloomberg News, the tests at SFO cost $250 with results in 15 minutes. No mention of other details, such as age restrictions. It’s pricey, but I suspect a lot of people will do it. If nothing else, super convenient to get it done pre-flight.

  2. $250? Seriously! That additional fee on top of what they are already soaking flyers for during COVID is nuts. I guess if you’re loaded, flying First or Business class & staying in high up on the hog digs while on the island, oh & can quarantine for 14 days at the resort, then you can afford the paltry $250. Hah!

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