American Airlines To Introduce Preflight Covid-19 Testing (Select Markets)

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Last week saw United Airlines announce that it will be offering Covid-19 testing services for customers flying between San Francisco and Hawaii and that it is looking to expand similar testing to other routes. Now American Airlines is joining the party with its own plans to offer preflight testing for travelers traveling on select routes from next month.

American Airlines Covid-19 Testing

American Airlines has now shared some of its plans for taking the “first steps to open international markets” and the initial focus appears to be on Hawaii and the Caribbean. Some plans appear to already be in place while others appear to be a work in progress.

American Airlines Covid-19 Testing For Hawaii

From 15 October, Hawaii is set to allow travelers who can present a negative Covid-19 test to bypass the states 14-day self-quarantine requirement so from that date, American Airlines plans to offer Hawaii-bound travelers departing Dallas Fort Worth three Covid-19 testing options:

  1. At-home test from LetsGetChecked, observed by a medical professional via virtual visit, with results expected in 48 hours on average (cost: $119 per the LetsGetChecked website)
  2. In-person testing at a CareNow urgent care location (cost: $250 if you’re not covered by insurance per the CareNow website)
  3. Onsite rapid testing, administered by CareNow, at DFW (cost: not stated)

These services will be open to travelers flying to Honolulu and Maui only.

American Airlines Covid-19 Testing For The Caribbean

As the Caribbean is a sea full of independent island states (and overseas territories) it’s not a straightforward exercise for American Airlines to offer a one-solution-fits-all remedy that will keep all the various parties happy. Because of this, American Airlines is having to come to separate agreements with various countries and representative bodies as it looks to get its Caribbean schedule back up and running.

Covid-19 Testing For Jamaica

American Airlines says that it has reached an agreement with the government of Jamaica which will see the airline offering a testing program at Miami International Airport. At first, the tests will only be available to residents of Jamaica who are returning home and, assuming they test negative for Covid-19, the tests will allow travelers to avoid the 14-day quarantine that Jamaica is currently imposing on all arrivals into the country.

This testing program is set to be piloted from “next month” (October) and, assuming it’s successful, American says that the objective is to open up testing for all passengers traveling to Jamaica, including U.S. citizens.

Covid-19 Testing For The Bahamas & Other Countries in The Caribbean

American Airlines is in talks with the government of the Bahamas and CARICOM (a body representing 20 states in the Caribbean including Barbados, St Lucia, St Kitts & Nevis, and the Cayman Islands) in an attempt to arrange a similar testing program for these destinations as it has already agreed with Jamaica.

The airline has said that it expects to have an agreement in place with the Bahamas next month and it hopes to roll out further agreements in due course.

Quick Thoughts

This is good news. The tests are expensive, but based on how the world is currently reacting to Covid-19, the only surefire way to get travel going again is for airlines to offer accurate and timely testing for passengers and for countries to agree to allow travelers to bypass any quarantine restrictions that are in place if a traveler can provide a negative test result from a trusted testing station.

With Jamaica already effectively signed up to a pilot scheme with American Airlines, it’s only a matter of time before a significant number of other Caribbean states follow suit. No Caribbean nation will want to miss out on the large number of US citizens and residents that are already eager to take a vacation in the sun, so with the Caribbean’s peak tourist season rapidly approaching, I expect to see a number of testing agreements announced shortly and in quick succession.

Bottom Line

American Airlines has announced that it will begin offering preflight Covid-19 testing at Dallas Fort Worth for customers flying to Oahu and Maui from 15 October. The airline has also announced a pilot testing program at Miami airport which will initially focus on Jamaican residents returning home, but which is expected to soon include testing for US citizens wishing to visit various Caribbean states.


  1. It’s a interesting approach by the airlines in general and at the surface seems like a good way to get folks back in the air and feel comfortable with air travel. But given the not so small rate of false results, especially with the rapid tests, what happens if say I’m boarding a flight for Hawaii, from DFW and I’ve arrived at DFW from another city. And I fail the test at DFW so I’m denied boarding…how do I get home? Who will let me fly back home? What do the airport people do with me, now that I’ve lit the alarm bells with a positive test? Surely, they can’t put me on a flight back to my origination? What happens if I’m denied boarding because of a “false – positive”..and I’ve missed an important meeting/ event, etc…who is liable? It’s not a perfect solution and I’m encouraged the airlines are trying to find a safe way for us to get back in the air, but I think a few more details need to be fleshed out. While Hawaii is beautiful, what happens if I go there, then board my flight home only to fail the test there….We will get there and believe me, I want to get back in the air soon….I like the approach and really respect the heck of the hard workers at the airlines/ travel industry, but need a few more details…

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