United Airlines to try free COVID-19 testing for passengers on certain flights

United Airlines plans to require preflight COVID-19 testing next month for certain flights to see whether testing increases demand for flights, CNBC reported. 

The trial will run from Nov. 16 to Dec. 11 on some flights from Newark, N.J., to Heathrow airport in London. The tests will be paid for by United and will be required for passengers on the Monday, Wednesday and Friday flights from New Jersey to London. 

United will offer Abbott's rapid ID Now molecular test, CNBC reported. Passengers who don't wish to be tested will be moved to other flights to guarantee everyone on board — other than children under age 2 — has tested negative before departure. 

Airlines have been trying out preflight COVID-19 testing as a potential way to avoid passenger quarantine periods and increase demand for flights. Travel bans and quarantine periods have devastated airlines during the pandemic, CNBC reported. 

Last week, a group of 20 trade groups representing airlines wrote a letter to the Trump administration saying that current travel restrictions are "confusing" and discourage travel. 

"Furthermore, there are alternatives to quarantines, such as testing and screening of passengers at or ahead of departure, that can significantly reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19, and may actually be more effective, due to the difficulties in enforcing compliance with quarantine requirements," the groups wrote, according to CNBC

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