The at-home testing program will be available to people flying to any of the 14 cities, states, and territories with COVID-19 travel restrictions.
As the busy holiday travel season nears, American Airlines will start offering at-home COVID
-19 tests to passengers flying to states with travel restrictions, the company announced Tuesday.
The $129 PCR tests will be available through at-home testing firm LetsGetChecked, and a negative result before boarding will potentially help travelers avoid quarantine periods when they arrive at destinations including New York, Massachusetts, and Hawaii.
American and other airlines already offer at-home tests for travelers flying to select international destinations, but the company says it's the first US airline to expand testing access to all domestic destinations with travel restrictions.
"We've made great strides to help open international travel with our testing partners, and we recognize the need for similar domestic travel solutions," Alison Taylor, chief customer officer for American Airlines, said. "As travel requirements continue to quickly evolve, we're simplifying the research and COVID
-19 testing fulfillment process for an overall more seamless travel experience."
The program starts Wednesday for flights departing Saturday, and LetsGetChecked recommends that travelers purchase a test a minimum of five days before their flight. Customers get their test in the mail within 24-48 hours, perform the nasal swab at home, and receive results within 48 hours after their samples reach LetsGetChecked's lab.
The company may also set up a video call with a healthcare professional, as some destinations require a healthcare worker to observe sample collection and verify the customer's identity.
The tests will be available to passengers flying to any of the 14 cities, states, and territories with COVID
-19 travel restrictions, which include Puerto Rico, Washington, DC, and Chicago.
American's program is just the latest initiative from the airline industry to boost bookings during the pandemic-induced drop in travel. In October, United began offering preflight COVID
-19 tests to Hawaii-bound passengers, and several airports have opened rapid-testing centers in recent months.
Still, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against any travel as the number of new daily COVID
-19 cases hovers around 200,000. For people who must travel, the CDC recommends getting tested 1-3 days before departing, and again 3-5 days after returning. The agency advises travelers to limit non-essential activities for at least a full week after travel.