For people who want to fly but are worried about contracting COVID-19, United Airlines is offering rapid virus testing for transatlantic flights starting next month.
United announced Thursday morning that from Nov. 16 to Dec. 11, "rapid tests to every passenger over two years old and crew members onboard select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR), free of charge."
So here's the kicker, anyone who refuses to be tested "will be placed on another flight," read the press release.
"We believe the ability to provide fast, same-day COVID-19 testing will play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, particularly to key international destinations like London," said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United.
Enqvist continued: "Through this pilot program, we'll guarantee that everyone* onboard has tested negative for COVID-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety. United will continue to lead on testing, while at the same time exploring new solutions that contribute to the safest travel experience possible."
United has required all passengers to wear masks, disinfected airplanes and cabins between flights, and upgraded planes' air filtration systems with hospital-grade HEPA filters, resulting in lower probabilities of spreading and contracting the virus, even on a packed flight.
Rapid testing is just one more layer of defense for passengers, a move that could hopefully restore confidence among people to fly once more, comes at a time when the entire airlines and travel and tourism industries remain in financial ruin.
United said the test would be administered on United Flight 14 (EWR to LHR), departing at 7:15 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
According to Bloomberg, United will use Abbott Laboratories ID Now rapid molecular tests for the program, noting the carrier will also offer these tests for passengers in San Francisco for flights to Hawaii.
The next big push to resurrect the airline industry is for carriers and airports to rush out pre-flight virus testing.
While many passengers are still objecting to wearing masks on planes, what makes you think people will allow carriers to test them for a virus? Also, bear in mind, this is the same rapid-test as was used by The White House...
... there will be uproar.