American Airlines on Tuesday (Dec. 8) rolled out plans to offer preflight COVID-19 testing in the United States as battered airlines seek ways to lure back wary travelers.
In a move to help prevent U.S. passengers from getting stuck in coronavirus quarantines after they land in another city or state, American said it will begin offering the at-home test kits starting Wednesday, Dec. 9.
The airline said it will offer the tests for purchase through its testing contractor, LetsGetChecked. The test kits cost $129 and have an average turnaround time of 48 hours.
American Airlines said it is the first airline to offer preflight COVID-19 testing for travel inside the continental U.S., with preflight tests currently being offered for international travel.
“We’ve made great strides to help open international travel with our testing partners, and we recognize the need for similar domestic travel solutions,” said Alison Taylor, chief customer officer for American Airlines, in a press release. “As travel requirements continue to quickly evolve, we’re simplifying the research and COVID-19 testing fulfillment process.”
The tests will be available to American Airlines customers who are traveling to U.S. destinations that have travel restrictions in place.
States and territories that currently have COVID-19 travel restrictions include Alaska, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Chicago, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island and Vermont.
American said it also offers a “travel tool” to passengers looking to get up to date on travel restrictions imposed by various states and cities.
American’s decision to roll out COVID-19 preflight testing for domestic routes comes as the airline industry finds its hopes for a rebound complicated by another big spike in coronavirus cases.
While the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine finally offers a path out of the pandemic, it could be several more months to a year before the coronavirus is finally brought under control.
United Airlines began offering preflight tests for some flights to Hawaii starting in October, with free tests for international flights to London from Newark, according to CNBC.