United Airlines Passengers Can Now Skip Hawaii’s COVID Document Screening

a person's hands on a plane

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United Airlines has announced that following on from measures put in place last year, it is now taking further steps to help customers prepare for their trips to Hawaii and to help them bypass Hawaii’s document screening lines upon arrival into the islands.

United Introduces A Hawaii Pre-Clearance Program

From 1 February 2021, United Airlines passengers en route to Hawaii will be able to show evidence of a valid negative COVID test ahead of boarding and then avoid the document screening lines that are currently greeting passengers when they arrive at their destination.

In essence, United’s new Hawaii pre-clearance program is straightforward. Travelers are first required to enroll in Hawaii’s Safe Travels program and complete the state’s COVID-19 questionnaire within 24 hours from departure.

The next step is for travelers to upload evidence of their negative COVID test to the Safe Travels site keeping in mind that the test must have been taken within 72 hours of their scheduled departure time and that the test must have been performed by one of Hawaii’s trusted testing partners.

With all of that done, travelers will be able to use a dedicated area at their departure gate to show a United Airlines agent their completed submission (via a QR code generated by the Safe Travels website) and, assuming all their paperwork is in order, they’ll be given a wristband that will allow them to skip the screening lines at their destination.

a person handing a passport to another person

While this isn’t going to reduce passenger waiting times entirely, this should definitely speed things up for United’s customers on their way to Hawaii.

Because passengers will be arriving at the gate to get their wristbands at different times, the lines to get the wristbands should be considerably shorter than the lines in Hawaii where all passengers on any given flight will be arriving at the screening stations at approximately the same time.

United Expands Pre-Departure COVID Testing

United Airlines has said that it is making it easier for travelers to obtain approved COVID tests by expanding its offering of mail-in tests to customers all across the United States (i.e this will no longer be an option limited to passengers departing from select airports). Passengers can expect the airline says to notify them of their testing options in advance of their trip to Hawaii.

In addition to expanding its mail-in testing, United says that it also plans to expand the same-day testing option that it currently offers through its testing partner, XpresCheck.  XpresCheck currently offers its services at United’s terminal in Denver but is expected to open additional locations in United’s terminals in Houston and Newark in the coming weeks. Customers who choose to take a test with XpresCheck can schedule an appointment online for a rapid molecular test on the same day as their travel.

Walk-up appointments are also available on a first-come, first-served basis but those should probably be regarded as a last-minute option rather than a sure-fire way to get tested ahead of a trip. If you have a trip booked, the sensible thing to do would be to schedule an appointment in advance to remove as much uncertainty and stress from your journey as possible.

Bottom Line

United Airlines is rolling out a pre-clearance process for its customers traveling to Hawaii from 1 February, it’s expanding its pre-departure mail-in testing to cover the entire country, and we can expect to see the airline’s rapid testing partner, XpresCheck, opening up new facilities at Newark and Houston in the coming weeks.


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