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Alitalia Is Now Insisting On A Negative COVID Test For Flights To/From NYC

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Towards the end of last month, we saw Delta announce that it was teaming up with Rome and Atlanta airports to offer coronavirus testing on select flights between the two cities from later this month. Now, as of yesterday, Alitalia has joined in and is insisting that passengers on its Rome – New York route provide proof of a negative coronavirus test before they will be allowed to board.

Alitalia operates three weekly flights between Rome and New York (JFK) but the airline’s press release suggests that only one of the three flights will require passengers to test negative for COVID-19 before they’re allowed to board. Based on what the Alitalia website is showing, however, this may not be the case as if you search for flights between Rome and New York, all the non-stop options suggest that passengers will require a negative COVID test before they will be allowed to board.

Alitalia customers looking to book a flight between Rome and New York are now presented with the following statement above their search results:

“We inform you that, as required by the ordinance of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of 23 November 2020 (GU n. 294 of 26/11/2020) from 8 December 2020, all flights between New York and Rome Fiumicino (and from 10 December also those between Rome Fiumicino and New York) will be subject to a trial procedure until 15 February 2021, to ensure your trip and your stay are even safer and more comfortable
On flights identified during the purchase phase with the name “Covid-Tested”, only passengers who test negative for Covid-19 will be allowed to board, after having carried out a rapid or molecular antigen test (RT PCR) taken via swab within 48 hours of boarding.”

As the statement suggests, the flights subject to COVID testing are clearly marked in the search results…

a screenshot of a phone

…and anyone selecting such a flight is then presented with the following message:

“You have selected a flight subject to a test procedure as required by the Ordinance of the Min. Of Health, Min. Of Infrastructure and Transport and the Min. Of Foreign Affairs of 23 November 2020 (GU n. 294 of 26/11/2020) which provides additional preventive measures on flights AZ609 from 8 December and AZ608 from 10 December.
These two flights will only board passengers who:
present at the boarding gate a medical certificate of a negative molecular (RT PCR) or antigenic test result carried out in the 48 hours before boarding. Or who, on the day of departure, undergo a rapid antigen test at the airport and receive a negative result.”

A key point to note, and one that isn’t really made clear enough in the information that Alitalia has provided, is this: These tests are not a way for all US citizens to travel freely to Italy (and therefore Europe) and they’re not a way for travelers to circumvent the current US rules that prevent most people from visiting the US if they have been spending time in Europe. The tests will only exempt from quarantine US citizens who are permitted to travel to Italy for essential reasons, such as work, health, and education. The tests will also exempt from quarantine all European Union and Italian citizens arriving from the United States.

The Testing

As far as the testing at the airport goes, Alitalia says that the tests at Rome Fiumicino International Airport are being carried out in the following areas:​

  • Drive-In set up at the Long Stay car park (passengers using this option must arrive at least 4 hours before their scheduled departure time).
  • The “Covid-19 Test Area” Health center in Terminal T3, Arrivals Area, Door 4 (passengers using this option must arrive at least 3.5 hours before their scheduled departure time).

The airline has also said that the tests at New York JFK airport can be carried out for a fee at the Adams Health Center located in the departures area of Terminal 1 (passengers need to arrive at least 4.5 hours before their scheduled departure time). Passengers connecting to Rome in JFK and whose layover isn’t long enough to allow them to take a test at JFK, will have to have their test done in their city/airport of origin no more than 48 hours before the boarding time of their New York – Rome flight.

That’s not where the testing ends.

Upon arrival and both Rome and JFK airports, passengers will be subject to the following procedures:


Passengers arriving in Rome from New York JFK will be required to undergo an antigen test at Rome Fiumicino airport. If they present a negative result they will be allowed access into Italy and will not be subject to local quarantine regulations. Should they fail the test, quarantine rules will come into effect immediately.

New York JFK

Upon arrival at JFK, passengers whose final destination is within the state of New York will have to undergo 3 days of quarantine as well as an antigen or molecular test (RT PCR) on the fourth day of their trip. Visitors are required to remain in quarantine until they receive confirmation that their day-4 test has shown them to be Covid-free. In the event of a negative result, there will be no obligation to remain in quarantine.

Passengers transiting through New York JFK should check the local rules for their final destination.

Note: Passengers who for health reasons documented by a medical certificate cannot carry out the molecular (RT PCR) or antigenic swab, as well as children up to 6 years will be exempt from taking the test.

Bottom Line

As of yesterday, at least one and possibly all three of Alitalia’s flights between Rome and New York JFK require passengers to subject themselves to coronavirus testing before departure as well as upon arrival at their final destination. The tests do not give any more people access to Europe or the United States but they do give eligible travelers the opportunity to avoid the quarantine rules in Italy, and they give all passengers on these flights a little bit more comfort that those around them have a reasonable chance of being free of COVID-19.

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  1. Why is no one covering the fact that Delta’s covid-tested flight rule applies to connecting itineraries also, which is a HUGE issue.

    E.g. if someone is flying LAX – ATL – FCO on a single ticket, they will be forced to take the mandatory rapid antigen test on their ATL layover. If they rapid-test positive due to faulty tests etc on their layover, tough luck, you’re stranded in Atlanta airport with Delta refusing to transport you to your destination or to where your trip started.

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