Following in the footsteps of United Airlines, American Airlines has announced a preflight COVID-19 testing program, which is scheduled to begin next month.
"The pandemic has changed our business in ways we never could have expected, but all the while, the entire American Airlines team has eagerly tackled the challenge of reimagining the way we deliver a safe, healthy and enjoyable travel experience for our customers," Robert Isom, President of American Airlines, said in a statement. "Our plan for this initial phase of preflight testing reflects the ingenuity and care our team is putting into rebuilding confidence in air travel, and we view this as an important step in our work to accelerate an eventual recovery of demand."
American's pilot program will begin at Miami International Airport (MIA), where Jamaican citizens returning home will be able to take a COVID-19 test offered by the airline before their flight. If they test negative, they will be permitted to skip Jamaica's mandatory 14-day quarantine.
If the pilot program succeeds, American and the Jamaican government will consider opening it testing to tourists.
"This is timely, given the government's ongoing review in cooperation with the Global Initiative for Health and Safety group of the current protocols governing travel to the island, and it could be a game-changer, not just for tourism, but also for other key sectors of the economy that have been negatively impacted by the ongoing pandemic," Audrey Marks, Ambassador of Jamaica to the United States, said in a statement.
Following the Jamaica program, American intends to expand the program with the Bahamas and CARICOM, a group of 20 Caribbean nations, though details have not yet been announced.
Then on the domestic side of aviation, American will start a preflight COVID-19 testing program at its up at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) for passengers flying to Hawaiian airports Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL) in Honolulu and Kahului (OGG) in Maui.
Beginning Oct. 15, ticketed passengers will be able to be tested in one of three ways within 72 hours of their flight: they can take an at-home test offered by LetsGetChecked, visit a CareNow clinic in person, or take a rapid test at the DFW airport. Should passengers test negative, they'll be allowed to skip Hawaii's mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
With more and more airlines offering COVID-19 testing—at a cost to passengers, mind you—we're optimistic that traveling during the pandemic will likely become far safer and more accessible.