As new requirements for Covid-19 testing are being announced for international travel, hotels, airlines and tech companies are stepping up to smooth the process and ensure everyone does the responsible thing.
Indian airline IndiGo, for example, has teamed with Stemz Healthcare to allow COVID-19 RT-PCR testing for both domestic and international travel.
Animesh Kumar, director of travel and tourism and automotive consulting at GlobalData, suggests implementing “negative-only” flights on popular routes during the holiday season.
“Customers in India are postponing their travel plans as they are concerned about getting infected by the virus in the closed environment of an aircraft cabin. If airlines offer rapid antigen tests at the airport and ensure that only those who have tested negative are allowed to board, it will help in elevating the consumer confidence,” Kumar says.
United Airlines will be doing something similar. Beginning Nov. 16, the airline will offer passengers free COVID tests on select flights between Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) in New Jersey and Heathrow Airport (LHR) in London, as part of a four-week program. Administered by Premise Health, the rapid-results tests will be available on United Flight 14, which departs Newark at on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The tests will be available only to fliers departing from Newark, and everyone above the age of two boarding the Heathrow-bound flight will be required to take the test. Passengers who test positive for COVID will be isolated and not allowed to board, and those who do not want to take a test will be required to take a different flight. Despite the testing, passengers will still need to wear a mask while on board, as well as follow the 14-day quarantine rule currently in place in the United Kingdom.
The airline recently launched similar testing on flights to Hawaii, which allowed passengers who tested negative to avoid quarantine upon arrival.. According to United, bookings jumped 95 percent on that route in the first two weeks.
Hotels are Following Suit
Hotels have hopped on the testing train as well, offering free tests to departing and arriving guests.
Melia Hotels’ 10 hotels, which operate in Mexico and Dominican Republic, will also offer free, on-site COVID-19 antigen tests for guests who’re required to show negative results prior to entering their country of residence.
Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas, also offers on-site RT-PCR and rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. As part of the property’s Safe Travels package, guests can receive 2 RT-PCR tests on the day of their departure, with the option to purchase more at a discounted rate.
As part of larger health protocol options, Marriott International has stepped into COVID-19 testing as well, which meeting professionals can choose to include for group meetings at certain Gaylord Hotels and Resorts in Florida, Tennessee, Texas and Colorado, beginning this month.
Iberostar Group will offer guests free COVID-19 antigen tests across its properties in Mexico, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Brazil for U.S. travelers reentering the States, following the news that they will be required to provide negative COVID-19 tests beginning Jan. 26. Guests interested in taking a PCR will be able to do so, at a cost.