What Happens If You Take An American Airlines Covid Test, And Test Positive?

American Airlines now offers pre-flight rapid Covid-19 tests for passengers flying from Dallas Fort-Worth to both Honolulu and Maui. This allows passengers testing negative to skip quarantine on arrival. (American hoped to do pre-flight testing for Costa Rica flights but the Costa Rican government rejected using these rapid tests.)

United Airlines was first out of the gate with in-airport testing. Hawaiian quickly followed. Alaska Airlines sort of pretended to follow. Testing has the potential to really open travel back up, both if the destination feels comfortable allowing entry by tested travelers and because other passengers will know everyone on board has tested negative too.

But what happens if you test positive at the airport? American Airlines put out an internal memo on Wednesday explaining.

The CareNow facility administering tests at DFW airport is in the Terminal B/D connector (near gates D40 and B1). When the passenger tests positive there:

  • CareNow will move the customer to a designated area to await test results
  • CareNow will contact the American Hub Control Center (HCC)
    • The HCC will contact the appropriate Customer Care, Customer Ops, and Security teams
    • The Customer Care POC team will:
      • Cancel the itinerary
      • Add the following remark to the PNR: “PNR Canceled by DFW POC. Do not allow travel within 14 days of DDMMMYY
      • Initiate a bag pull and contact the Baggage Service Office with tag numbers
      • The customer and their companions will be provided a special phone number to contact the Reservations Escalation Desk. This team will answer questions, rebook flights to a later date, and assist with checked baggage

When you test at the American-contracted testing location at the airport, American is entitled to the results. And American is clear in their memo that they are “not responsible for any costs incurred by a customer if they are unable to take or continue their journey with us after testing at the CareNow location.”

Customers on Hawaii flights do not have to do in-airport testing. They don’t have to do testing at all. Without a test a passenger is required to quarantine for 14 days on arrival. With a negative test within 3 days of travel, whether from the airport or a health care provider off-airport, they can skip quarantine. Once American Airlines knows of a positive test, they’re naturally not going to allow the passenger to fly.

In fact, they won’t allow the passenger to fly for 14 days – even if they’re no longer contagious. Of course the rapid tests aren’t as likely to pick up low levels of dead virus as a PCR test might. I think I’d rather see a policy that says they won’t allow travel for 14 days or until a customer presents a negative test result whichever comes first. Certainly others will disagree.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This is why it is best to avoid airline provided testing, it can cause massive disruption. By far the best way to get a test result is to get a negative test done a few weeks prior for a real sample, and then photoshop the date for every future travel on the negative result. Easy peasy.

  2. @Ben, are you seriously suggesting that people commit fraud on the government of the State of Hawai’i and potentially put many other people – including family members and fellow pax – in jeopardy? Let me guess … you’re one of those MAGAts who thinks that the virus is a hoax and that QAnon is a civil rights organization

  3. So what happens if you’re connecting in DFW to get to Hawaii and you test positive? Does AA inform people on the connecting flight in to DFW that they’ve been exposed? I assume since they won’t let you on a flight, you’re stuck in Dallas unplanned for 2 weeks? Though some may fly back home on another airline… Seems rather inconvenient to leave it up to AA, especially if you aren’t based in DFW.

  4. @wadacash makes a great point but I figure that if AA is paying for the test, they’re entitled to the results.

  5. Given the false negative rates of many of these tests, if a patient tests positive one day and negative the next, that patient is more likely to be a true positive than a true negative on that second day. That’s why the policy in many places is two consecutive negative test results with some lag time between the tests, not just one negative test result.

  6. This being AA, I assume they’re the cheapest tests they could find, similar to those the White House used to keep the President safe (yet another colossal failure of this incompetent administration).

    Between @Ben’s recommendation of felony and the cheap testing, it’s highly likely that Hawaii will pay dearly for its stupidity.

  7. Pshaw! I’ve been “fixing” my test results to board flights for 3 months now. No problem. Don’t get your panties in a bunch, just suck it up, buttercup!

    Oh, and I’m not a Trump supporter, I’m ridin’ with Biden!

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