I’ve written about it many times before but the only way I see the travel industry bouncing back from this pandemic (before a vaccine is widely available) is by offering widespread, rapid, accurate, COVID-19 testing. That way, people can get tested just before they enter airports, airplanes, hotels, cruise ships, trains, restaurants, etc.
Airlines and airports know this … that’s why they’ve been scrambling to partner with health companies to offer testing, especially when it comes to destinations that require proof of a negative reading within 72 hours prior to the final leg of departure like Hawaii.
It’s difficult to even keep up with all the airlines and airports that offer COVID-19 testing so you need to do some research, including finding out what requirements your destination insists upon. Costs vary, too from $159 to free.
One of the challenges in the U.S. is getting test results back in time to make the 72-hour cut-off. That’s why airlines have been partnering with so many companies. The latest is American Airlines (AA) as they just announced today. According to CNBC, “American Airlines will start offering travelers $129 at-home Covid-19 tests, results that can help them avoid quarantines as long as two weeks. The initiative, which starts Wednesday for travel beginning Saturday, is the latest from airlines to try to encourage bookings.”
AA is working with LetsGetChecked and recommends that travelers order their tests at least five days before their flight. “Customers booked to any of the states that require arriving travelers to quarantine, including New York, Maryland and Massachusetts, take the nasal swab test at home. Once the test is received, results are expected within 48 hours, the company said.”
Not long ago, I wrote about how Costco had started selling COVID-19 tests and there are other FDA-approved tests that are even cheaper, like empowerDX at-home. Details on both here.
Unfortunately, I just don’t see this kind of testing working because so much can happen in 72 hours. Not only that, but a test is only a snapshot in time and a person could still be infected but the virus can not yet be detected. On top of that, can you really trust everyone? I’ve heard stories where people have someone else take the test for them since they’ve not been complying with social distancing guidelines and didn’t want to take the chance. And then there are people like the couple that still flew from San Francisco to Kauai last week, after being notified that they’d tested positive. They were arrested upone arrival. Here’s that story.