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American Airlines Expands Pre-Flight Testing Program to New Destinations

Posted on 11/04/2020

by Daniel McCarthy

American Airlines announced on Monday an expansion of its pre-flight COVID-19 testing options, adding additional destinations to its original list of Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Beginning Nov. 16, American will offer travelers to Belize, Grenada, and St. Lucia an at-home test PCR test in partnership with LetsGetChecked for $129, allowing them to bypass any mandatory quarantine requirements. The at-home test offers results on average 48 hours upon receipt in the lab.

 “Our initial pre-flight testing has performed remarkably well, including terrific customer feedback about the ease and availability of testing options,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said. “This next phase is an invigorating step forward in American’s relentless pursuit of reopening international travel and driving industry recovery while delivering a safe and positive travel experience.”

According to American, testing requirements for each country currently include: Belize, travelers six years old and up must complete PCR testing within 72 hours of departure; Grenada, testing must be completed within seven days prior to departure; and St. Lucia, travelers five years and older must complete testing within seven days of departure.

American controls a significant majority of the market at its hub in Miami, a gateway to Caribbean and Latin America destinations. Expanding its pre-flight testing to these countries give passengers a convenient and effective way to continue with travel plans.

Additionally, the carrier will expand its partnership with LetsGetChecked for select Hawaii flights for customers flying from Chicago, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. Passengers can obtain a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the final leg of departure. Travelers who present a negative test upon arrival will be exempt from the state’s 14-day quarantine.

The airline has already begun a preflight COVID-19 testing program at its Dallas Fort Worth International Airport hub for customers traveling to Honolulu and Maui.

Without a vaccine, robust testing is increasingly seen as the most viable path to safely re-open travel.  The American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and other travel industry groups recently sent a letter to the Trump administration, calling for officials to replace quarantine requirements with comprehensive, cost-effective pre-departure testing procedures and contact tracing protocols.

The letter said “there is widespread agreement in the aviation and travel industries that appropriate COVID-19 pre-departure testing protocols can serve as an alternative to quarantines while increasing confidence in the health and safety of the air transportation system.”

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