I’ve said it many times before: The only way the travel industry is going to get back on its feet is to either have a proven, safe vaccine that is available to everyone, or have widespread, mandatory, rapid and accurate COVID-19 testing so travelers will feel safe not only while they’re flying, but at their destination as well.
United Airlines SFO to Hawaii Testing
Yesterday was a baby step in that direction when United Airlines became the first U.S. airline to launch a COVID-19 pilot testing program for travelers out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on their way to Hawaii. Starting on October 15 (when Hawaii opens up), travelers can take a rapid test at the airport or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip to allow them to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory 14-day quarantine. Here’s all the information about that.
Also yesterday, according to ABC News: “German airline Lufthansa says it will test the practice of offering on-the-spot coronavirus tests before boarding intercontinental flights in an attempt to find a way to get long-haul passengers flying again. The airline said Thursday it was working with partners in the pharmaceutical industry to obtain an accurate test that could provide results within 15 minutes for 10 euros ($12). The tests on some routes to the U.S. are to begin in October and the practice will depend on government approval.”
Now this morning, Hawaiian Airlines announced that they’re making it easy for travelers to finally take a long-awaited Hawaii vacation with convenient drive-through COVID-19 tests in select U.S. mainland gateways that will allow guests to bypass the state of Hawaii quarantine and begin enjoying the islands from the moment they arrive.
Hawaiian’s partnership with Worksite Labs will give guests exclusive access to drive-through PCR testing ($90 for results within 36 hours, or $150 for day-of-travel express service) from dedicated, conveniently located labs. The carrier expects to start offering the Droplet Digital PCR shallow nasal swab tests – a “gold standard” COVID-19 screening that meets state of Hawai‘i guidelines – around Oct. 15, when travelers who test negative within 72 hours of departure will be exempt from Hawaii’s 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Hawaiian’s initial labs will be operational near Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) international airports, with more testing locations coming soon to its other U.S. mainland gateways.
This is obviously great news for anyone flying Hawaiian or going to Hawaii and for the travel industry as a whole. The more testing like this, the safer everyone will be (physically and mentally).
BTW: I didn’t realize until I read their press release today, but Hawaiian Airlines is also blocking the middle seats, so I just added them to the list of airlines keeping the middle seats open.
FYI: All travelers arriving in Hawaii or flying between the islands must now also complete the state’s online Safe Travels Hawaii form and I recommend staying up-to-date on Hawaii’s special travel instructions. Alaska Airlines just created a detailed blog post but that won’t be updated as much as Hawaiicovid19.com/Travel/.