It’s looking like the future of travel is going to involve rapid COVID-19 testing right at the airport, as United Airlines announced today that they would become the first U.S. airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travelers. Beginning on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco (SFO) to Hawaii will be given the option to either take a rapid COVID-19 test at the airport or self-administer a mail-in test. A negative test result would enable travelers to bypass Hawaii’s strict 14-day quarantine requirement, a safety measure that was implemented at the start of the pandemic.
United is hoping — and frankly so is everyone — programs like this will enable travelers to bypass similar safety measures in popular destinations across the world.
The rapid COVID-19 test used in the pilot program is capable of producing results in approximately 15 minutes so it’s ideal for at airport administration, though we imagine this is going to force us all to arrive at the airport even earlier. For the mail-in test, customers will receive their testing materials 10 days prior to their trip and will need to provide their sample within 72 hours of their departure. Because the test was approved by the Hawaiian government, both Hawaiian residents and visitors who produce a negative result will be able to dodge the state’s 14-day mandatory quarantine, which essentially opens up the state to travel beginning October 15th, so long as you’re flying in from San Francisco.
It looks like our new favorite Halloween travel destination this year is Hawaii. Costume parties in a tropical getaway? Sign us up, because this year has been a rough one!