COVID-19 Self Tests Become an Accepted Option for in-bound Arrivals into U.S.
United Airlines offers convenient test for departing passengers to carry and use before return flight
May 12, 2021
United Airlines and Abbott have partnered up to make return flights into U.S. “worry free” for International travelers through the distribution of home-testing kits. In a first-of-its-kind collaboration to use Abbott’s BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Home Test and Abbott’s NAVICA app the international travel experience stands to become more seamless.
United Airlines customers can depart the United States with the BinaxNOW Home Test in their carry-on bag and administer the test via the eMed digital health platform while overseas, avoiding the need to find a testing center abroad. United is the only airline so far to offer end-to-end integration between a digital platform and a testing app with the integration between the United Travel Ready Center platform and Abbott’s NAVICA app for passengers to use when departing and re-entering the United States. The Travel-Ready Center allows travelers to easily access testing or vaccine requirements needed for travel destinations, upload completed test results and vaccine records, as well as have them verified, all within the United app.
The BinaxNOW COVID-19 rapid test can help restore a sense of normalcy by providing additional confidence while traveling, and making it easier to do international business. More than 200 million BinaxNOW tests have been distributed throughout the United States, where they’ve been used by K-12 schools, universities, nursing homes, and underserved communities and serve as a powerful tool to help prevent the virus from spreading.
The new convenience comes on the heels of recently updated CDC guidelines that permit travelers to self-administer a rapid antigen test under the real-time supervision of a telehealth service and use the verified negative test result to board an international flight to the U.S. if they test negative.
“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,” said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer at United. “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.”
Photo Credit: Abbott
The BinaxNOW Home Test kit is lightweight, about the size of a day planner, and fits easily into a passenger’s carry-on luggage, briefcase or purse. It is recommended that passengers travel with more than one BinaxNOW test in their possession in the event of an inconclusive test result.
The Abbott BinaxNOW™ Home Test meets the the CDC’s guidance due to the unique digital proctor experience through eMed, which provides observed sample collection, testing and digitally verified test results. Abbott’s recently authorized BinaxNOW™ Self Test for over-the-counter purchase is not eligible for travel purposes.
Another option for travelers to consider, whether traveling on United or another airline, is the convenience of ordering the Abbott BinaxNOW™ kits directly from eMed, a telehealth company specializing in easy and affordable at-home healthcare testing, for $150 for a bundle of six tests. They include certified results in minutes and along with automated reporting.
CDC guidelines to note:
International air passengers traveling to the United States can use a self-test (sometimes referred to as home test) that meets the following criteria:
The test must be a SARS-CoV-2 viral test (nucleic acid amplification test [NAAT] or antigen test) with Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The testing procedure must include a telehealth service affiliated with the manufacturer of the test that provides real-time supervision remotely through an audio and video connection. Some FDA-authorized self-tests that include a telehealth service may require a prescription.
The telehealth provider must confirm the person’s identity, observe the specimen collection and testing procedures, confirm the test result, and issue a report that meets the requirements of CDC’s Order.
Photo Credit: Abbott
Airlines and other aircraft operators must be able to review and confirm the person’s identity and the test result details. The passenger must also be able to present the documentation of test results to U.S. officials at the port of entry and local/state health departments, if requested.
For travelers who test positive, CDC recommends the telehealth provider report positive test results to relevant public health authorities in the traveler’s location following local requirements. The telehealth provider should also counsel the traveler on what they and their close contacts should do. This would include not traveling until they complete isolation (if infected) or quarantine (if exposed), in accordance with local requirements.