• Joe Breitfeller

United Airlines Launches Preflight COVID-19 Testing From Houston to Latin America and Caribbean

The airline is expanding their preflight testing program to include departures from Houston (IAH) to select destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean from December 7, 2020. Eligible guests will perform a self-collected mail-in test 72 hours prior to departure.


United Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner - Courtesy United Airlines

On Monday (November 23, 2020), United Airlines announced an expansion of their preflight COVID-19 testing program to include departures from George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston (IAH) to select destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean. Starting December 7, 2020, guests departing Houston will have the option to take a self-collected, mail-in test that meets the entry requirements of select destinations, allowing travelers to start their vacation immediately. The mail-in COVID-19 test costs $119 and will be administered by Advanced Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) and processed at their lab in San Antonio, TX. United Airlines will reach out to guests traveling to eligible destinations two weeks before departure with testing instructions. The carrier advises customers to take the tests 72 hours prior to departure and encourages travelers to research additional local destination requirements. Customers can expect to receive their COVID-19 test results within 24-48 hours after mailing their test by email. In Monday’s announcement, United Airlines’ Chief Customer Officer, Toby Enqvist, said,


United Expands Preflight COVID-19 Testing Program From Houston to Select Latin American and Caribbean Destinations - Courtesy United Airlines

“Widespread testing is key to unlocking international borders and safely reopening global travel. This is particularly important for our customers in Houston, who rely on United to keep them connected with their family and friends in Latin America and the Caribbean. We'll continue to lead the way on testing – United was the first to announce a customer COVID-19 testing program and the first to offer free tests on flights across the Atlantic – and we'll look at new, innovative ways to make the travel experience even safer.”


ADL Mail-in Testing Kit - Courtesy United Airlines

ADL’s self-administered COVID-19 test includes a plastic tube, nasal swab and collection instructions. The company’s telehealth system will be available to provide online support for customers traveling to countries which require the test to be supervised by a healthcare professional. The expanded testing is part of United’s industry-leading multi-layered United CleanPlus health and safety program.

United has found that when preflight testing is available, the company has experienced a notable increase in load factors and revenue. For example, when the carrier introduced preflight testing in San Francisco for travelers to Hawaii, to avoid the state’s mandatory 14-day quarantine, they experienced a 95% increase in passengers compared to the previous two weeks. Last week, United launched the first free transatlantic testing pilot program between Newark (EWR) and London-Heathrow (LHR), where all customers (over the age of two) and crewmembers are required to test negative with a rapid COVID-19 test prior to boarding select flights.


Since the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic, United Airlines has been a leader in U.S. airlines in protecting their guests and team members across their entire journey. United Airlines’ shared purpose is ‘Connecting People. Uniting the World.’ Shares in the company’s parent, United Airlines Holdings, Inc., are publicly traded on the Nasdaq under the symbol ‘UAL’.



Source: United Airlines