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.