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Barely a day goes by without an airline or airline partnership announcing that it’s launching coronavirus testing on one or more of its routes and today is no exception. In recent days American Airlines has announced testing on its routes to Chile and the USVI, United said that it was bringing testing to Houston and now Delta and KLM have said that they will soon offer testing on flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam.
Delta & KLM’s “COVID-free” Flights
From 15 December, Delta and KLM will operate four weekly flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam (2 flights each) that will only carry passengers who have provided a negative COVID test. The flights will initially run for three weeks and, if successful, the airlines say that they hope to extend the program to other routes.
The airlines have said that travelers will be able to choose the COVID-tested flights when they purchase their tickets online or they can opt for one of the alternative Delta or KLM daily flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam that are not covered within the trial program (I’ve just checked and I can’t see any mention of this on the Delta or KLM websites when I search for a fare so it may be that the websites haven’t yet been updated).
To fly on Delta and KLM’s COVID-tested flights from Atlanta to Amsterdam, customers will need to:
- Take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test 5 days before arrival in Amsterdam.
- Take a rapid antigen prior to boarding at the Atlanta airport.
- Take a PCR test directly upon arrival at Schiphol.
A little strangely, the joint statement from Delta and KLM doesn’t mention who will be administering the tests and who will be responsible for the cost of the three tests that passengers are being asked to take, but I suspect that this program will follow a similar path to United’s “COVID-free” flights between Newark and London Heathrow in which the airline is bearing the costs of testing (I’ll update this post when I hear back from Delta’s news team).
A key aspect of this announcement that everyone should note is that this isn’t a pass for everyone in the US to starting visiting Europe again.
Although by taking these three tests, self-isolating until departure, and passing all three tests a traveler will not have to participate in the mandatory 10-day quarantine that the Netherlands is currently imposing, the Delta/KLM announcement clearly states that “[t]his new protocol will be available to all citizens permitted to travel to the Netherlands for essential reasons, such as for certain specified work, health and education reasons”.
That very clearly excludes the vast majority of people in the United States who may wish to travel to the Netherlands.
From 15 December, Delta and KLM will be offering 4 weekly flights between Atlanta and Amsterdam on which all passengers will have passed two COVID tests before departure and whose passengers will be expected to take and pass a third COVID test upon arrival in Amsterdam.
While this program doesn’t appear to offer a path for most US residents to travel to the Netherlands at will, it does offer those who are currently allowed to visit the Netherlands the chance to avoid having to self-isolate for 10 days upon their arrival.
Featured image courtesy of Delta