United will begin providing passengers with at-home COVID-19 tests for a more seamless international travel experience, the airline announced Wednesday.
United is partnering with Abbott to give customers Abbott's BinaxNOW COVID-19 home test and access to Abbott's NAVICA app for results. Passengers will be able to depart the U.S. with the BinaxNOW test in their carry-ons and give themselves the test when they are ready to return. The NAVICA app integrates with United's Travel Ready Center, which stores vaccination and test result records.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated travel guidelines, allowing passengers to self-administer a rapid antigen test using a telehealth service before boarding any international flight bound for the U.S., eliminating the need to find a test service while abroad.
"We want to give our customers greater peace of mind that when they travel internationally, they'll be able to return to the U.S quickly and safely," Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United, said in a press release statement. "The Abbott BinaxNOW Home Test meets CDC requirements and, along with our partners at Abbott, United is doubling down on our commitment to make international travel as safe and convenient as possible by offering an easy testing option when customers are ready to return to the United States."
The tests are available to order from the United website (a pack of six tests costs $150). They can be delivered to your home before a trip or picked up locally, where available. When it comes time to take the test, passengers must schedule a 30-minute appointment to complete the test with a virtual health professional. Test results are available within 15 minutes, with passengers instantly granted a digital certificate and QR code through the NAVICA app that will allow them to travel. The certificate will integrate with United's app.
United recommends passengers travel with more than one test in their carry-on luggage, in case the first comes back as an inconclusive test result.
Although it's easier to travel internationally, the federal government is still not encouraging trips abroad. Last month, the State Department added dozens of countries to its "Level 4" classification, warning people "Do Not Travel" there.
Cailey Rizzo is a contributing writer for Travel Leisure, currently based in Brooklyn. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, or at caileyrizzo.com.
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