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Brief Published: 25 Nov 2020

American Airlines’ At-Home Pre-Departure Testing Scheme

American Airlines

As we heard at the Skift Global Forum, testing is a key tool that destinations and airlines are implementing to boost traveller confidence during the pandemic. American Airlines is going a step further by giving passengers to select destinations the option to complete a pre-departure Covid-19 test at home.

The programme was launched in October for passengers flying to Jamaica, the Bahamas and Costa Rica. It was then extended in November to cover Belize, Grenada, St. Lucia and Hawaii. Upon arrival to these destinations, passengers must show a negative test from anywhere between seven days and 72 hours prior to their flight. Passengers can purchase their tests through American Airlines’ partnership with US test provider LetsGetChecked. They cost $129 and are taken under the virtual supervision of a medical professional, with results available in 48 hours. 

While consumers could get tested through other means, the airline’s offering could help lure those seeking reassurance as they resume travel in the pandemic era. Providing tests cuts down on pre-departure logistics for travellers and (almost) ensures that trips will be able to go ahead as planned. As demand for travel insurance booms, this service has the potential to act as an insurance surrogate, and provide pandemic-anxious travellers with peace of mind.

Meanwhile, United Airlines’Covid-free” flight scheme between New York and London offers another signal that pre-departure tests could be the mind-settling service consumers need to resume travel. The US airline is currently running a four-week trial where all passengers and crew receive rapid antigen coronavirus tests before boarding. Only those who test negative will be allowed to fly, while those who test positive will be isolated.

For more on how to adapt services to pandemic-era consumers, see Profiling the Future Traveller and Roadmaps to Recovery: Travel & Hospitality.