In 2021, expect to add testing to the pre-flight checklist, especially now that the U.S. is requiring a negative COVID-19 test to enter. To help facilitate compliance with testing requirements around the world, several airlines have begun offering passengers priority testing through partnerships with testing providers.
How to Get a COVID-19 Test from Your Airline
While community testing sites are available throughout the country, it may be more convenient to take a test at the airport before you fly. Or, better yet, have an at-home test delivered to your door. Here are the major U.S. airlines offering COVID-19 tests, including specific flights where airlines are experimenting by testing all passengers.
By partnering with Carbon Health, Alaska Airlines is offering same-day or next-day results at locations in Seattle, Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, and San Jose. Airport locations include Portland (PDX), San Diego (SAN), and San Jose (SJC), with locations nearby airports in other cities. Alaska Airlines guests can schedule an appointment and pay a discounted cost of $135 - $170 after showing their flight itinerary.
For those who wish to take a test from the comfort of your own home, you can order an at-home test kit from Costco/AZOVA. No membership required. The FDA-authorized saliva PCR test is delivered overnight via UPS and the test is self-administered with video observation. Once the sample is taken, simply drop it off at a UPS store and get your results in 24-48 hours.
Both tests are approved as trusted testing partners in the State of Hawaii’s pre-travel testing program.
American Airlines is offering three different ways to get tested. It has partnered with LetsGetChecked, which sends an at-home test kit with an average 48-hour turnaround time. The $129 kit should be ordered a recommended 5 or more days before your flight departure. You can schedule a UPS pickup for your sample, activate your test online, and then collect the non-invasive lower nasal sample. Note that some destinations will require you to join an observation call before your sample collection.
If you live in the Dallas area, in-person testing is available at select CareNow urgent care locations for $150 and pre-flight rapid testing is available at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport (DFW) for $249. On average, results come back in 15 minutes on the day of your flight when taking the on-site rapid test at DFW. This test is open to American Airlines travelers with select flights departing from Dallas (DFW) to locations that require a negative test upon arrival. It’s recommended to be at the airport an extra hour early to complete the test.
American is also using the VeriFLY app to streamline test result verification. Travelers can download the secure app and upload negative COVID-19 test results along with other required forms for travel. The program was initially rolled out for travel to/from certain destinations, but will be available for all international travel starting January 23, 2021, to support new CDC testing requirements for all travelers entering the U.S. from a foreign country starting January 26, 2021.
If you are traveling for essential reasons to Italy or the Netherlands, you can fly on one of Delta’s Covid-Tested trial flights and avoid quarantine upon arrival. Covid-Tested flights are available on select flights between Atlanta (ATL) and Rome (FCO) through February 12, 2021, and between Atlanta (ATL) and Amsterdam (AMS) through February 14, 2021.
Before the flight, travelers must take a PCR test within 72 hours of departure for Italy flights (5 days prior for Amsterdam flights) and provide the negative result at the check-in counter. Note: online check-in will not be available for these flights. Before you board the flight, you’ll have a rapid test taken at the Atlanta airport and must receive a negative result in order to take the flight. A third test will be administered once you arrive at no additional cost.
If you are only transiting in Amsterdam, additional testing is not required before boarding your connecting flight, but quarantine and entry requirements may vary for your final destination. When departing from Italy, Delta customers can provide proof of a negative antigen or PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure or opt to take a free rapid test at the FCO airport prior to departure. Only flights labeled as “Covid-Tested” when purchasing will follow these procedures.
If you fly to Hawaii, you’ll either have to self-quarantine for 10 days or take a pre-travel test to avoid the mandatory quarantine. Understanding that most travelers will opt to take a test, Hawaiian Airlines has partnered with several testing providers in each city it flies to in order to offer a streamlined experience for its passengers.
On Hawaiian’s COVID-19 test options page, just select your departure city and it will give you all of Hawaii’s approved testing partners in that city. Options range from drive-thru test appointments exclusive to Hawaiian Airlines guests to rapid tests at the airport. There is also the option to order an at-home test from Vault for $119 per person. Due to shipping times, Hawaiian doesn’t recommend this option if your flight is on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
JetBlue has partnered with Vault to offer an at-home saliva-based PCR test. You can order the test for $119 and receive results in 48-72 hours. The Vault tests are approved for travel to Aruba, Puerto Rico, and Grenada, and Vault has even given a handy calendar to help you know when to order a test, drop It off, and when you’ll receive the results.
JetBlue also outlines where you can find testing facilities at its hub airports in Boston (BOS), Los Angeles (LAX), Newark (EWR), New York (JFK), LaGuardia (LGA), and Orlando (MCO).
Southwest is a certified travel partner with NorCal COVID-19 testing by CityHealth Urgent Care, which provides Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests that meet Hawaii’s test requirements. If you live near the Bay Area, you can take a test for $20 and receive results in 48 hours. There are three testing locations — Oakland Airport, Sacramento Airport, and in Downtown San Francisco. Southwest also indicates that travelers can order an at-home test through Vault for $119.
While Spirit Airlines isn’t offering exclusive tests to its passengers, it has partnered with Nomi Health to launch a COVID-19 testing site at its hub airport in Fort Lauderdale (FLL). The testing site is located in Terminal 3 and passengers simply need to provide proof of travel to/from FLL on any airline in order to get tested. It costs $106 for a PCR test or $74 for a rapid Antigen test.
Testing hours are from 7 am – 9 pm daily and appointments can be made in advance through the Nomi Health weblink.
Sun Country Airlines
Sun Country doesn’t offer exclusive testing for its passengers, but the airline was very proactive after the CDC announcement regarding new test requirements for all travelers arriving in the U.S. from a foreign country. Sun Country has compiled a list of testing locations in several international destinations where it flies including Mexico, Aruba, Jamaica, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic. Phone numbers and links are provided, when available, to make scheduling a test before returning home as easy as possible.
United Airlines may have the most extensive testing plan of all U.S. airlines. United outlines how to arrange specific tests it offers for travel to Latin America, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Canada, the U.K., Ireland, and Germany.
Travelers flying to most destinations can order an at-home test through United and ADL Health for $119. If you’re traveling to Hawaii, United has teamed up with XpresCheck in both Denver and Newark to provide testing at the airport prior to travel for $200 per test. In San Francisco, United has partnered with Dignity Health-GoHealth UrgentCare to provide a day-of-travel rapid test for $250 or a drive-thru test administered by Color 72 hours before travel for $105 per test.The drive-thru test in San Francisco is also available for flights to Canada and customers must pre-register to reserve a testing time slot. For travel to Ireland and Germany, United has partnered with TrustAssure to ensure customers are taking tests that satisfy each country’s entry requirements. United provides a PCR Test search tool to find a qualified TrustAssure testing site.