United Airlines announces free coronavirus tests for passengers between Heathrow and US

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mike Pearse

A free, rapid coronavirus test will be given to passengers of United Airlines, as it announces the world’s first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program for customers.

From November 16 to December 11, the airline will offer rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old and crew members on board select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Heathrow Airport, free of charge.

Passengers who do not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight.

United Airlines says this will guarantee those on board other than children under two will have tested negative before departure. 

United Airlines testing at Heathrow Airport Credit: United Airlines

Toby Enqvist, Chief Customer Officer for United, says: “We believe the ability to provide fast, same-day COVID-19 testing will play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, particularly to key international destinations like London.

“Through this pilot program, we’ll guarantee that essentially everyone on board has tested negative for COVID-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety. United will continue to lead on testing, while at the same time exploring new solutions that contribute to the safest travel experience possible.” 

Appointments for the test are required, and customers are advised to schedule their tests at least three hours before their flight.