Health

Hawaii bound? Get tested for COVID-19

Hawaii reopens to tourists on October 15. Yay, right?

But the only visitors who will be able to skip the 14-day quarantine rules will be those with proof of testing negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours before they depart the mainland.

Hawaii officials will only accept test results from approved providers.

Here’s information about those testing partners from the Hawaii State Department of Health. The list was posted on 10/13/20 and will likely be updated.

Be sure to check with providers for prices and updated information.

Where to get tested

AFC Urgent Care – COVID-19 tests are available at clinics on the AFC Urgent Care website. Tests available for ages five and older. Schedule in advance to guarantee appointment availability. A printed version of the results is provided prior to leaving the clinic.

Bartell Drugs – Only for Alaska Airlines passengers to Hawaii at select Bartell Drugs locations. Tests available for ages five and older. Appointments are required at least one day in advance. Guaranteed results within 72 hours.

Carbon Health – Tests offered at dedicated sites with results delivered within two hours. Tests available for ages five and older for Alaska Airlines passengers in Seattle only. ($135)

CityHealth Urgent Care – CityHealth Urgent Care offers tests utilizing state-of-the-art Abbott Lab instrumentation for results in 15 minutes. Tests available for ages five and older.  

Color  Tests available for ages five and older for United Airlines passengers going to Hawaii from San Francisco International Airport.

CVS Health – Travelers may schedule an appointment up to two days in advance at select CVS Pharmacy drive-thru locations. Tests available for ages 12 and older. Pre-registration is required. ($139).

Discovery Health MD – Individuals traveling to Hawaii may schedule testing online with same ($329) and next day ($279) results at designated testing sites. Tests available for ages five and older. A limited number of walk-ups can be accommodated.

Kaiser Permanente – Kaiser Permanente members may schedule a test online, or contact the appointment call center or nurse advice line in their home region for scheduling instructions.

Quest Diagnostics – Individuals may order and schedule the company’s COVID-19 Active Infection Test online and select from more than 500 Walmart drive-thru pharmacy locations for a nasal swab test.

Vault Health – At-home tests with real-time audio-visual supervision are available. Tests available for ages five and older. Tests are mailed with accurate results in 72 hours or less.

Walgreens – Drive-thru testing locations available. Appointment required.

COVID-19 Testing Information from Airlines and Airports

If you are heading to Hawaii, your airline will offer information about COVID-19 tests and current requlations.

Here are links to the pre-travel testing requirements for Hawaii travelers and additional information about testing options from airlines – and from Oakland International Airport.

Alaska Airlines 

American Airlines 

Hawaiian Airlines 

Oakland International Airport 

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines 

If you go, send us a postcard.

Cool new COVID-fighting airport amenities

Airports are rolling out new COVID-fighting amenities faster than we can keep up with them.

Here are few I’ll be talking about this week during the virtual Travel 2021 Summit taking place on October 7 and 8.

We’ll be talking about airports and airlines on Thursday at 10 a.m. east coast time.

The line-up includes lots of experts talking about what’s going in travel now – and what might happen in the near future. Registration is free.

Use your toes in the elevators at Tucson International Airport

At Tucson International Airport (TUS), elevators are now touch-free. Thanks to the addition of toe tap buttons.

Free gadget cleaning at Toronto Pearson International Airport

It looks like a copy machine. But if you put your gadgets in these machines at Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) they will get zapped by a UV-C light that destroys novel coronavirus cells.

24-hour kiosk stocked with essentials at Edmonton Int’l Airport

This self-serve Rexall Drug Store machine at Edmonton International Airport (EIA) has 85 different items.

Long Beach Airport wants you back

Long Beach Airport (LGB) has a new video out to remind travelers that they’ve got outdoor concourses and other amenities that are reassuring for travelers.

Why are airports and airlines going pink in October?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the month you’re likely to see airports and airlines going pink to raise awareness and, in some cases, to raise funds to support breast cancer research.

We’ll add to this list as we spot and are alerted to other displays, but here are few to get started.

During October, Delta Air Lines raises money to support research projects through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Since 2005, the airline has raised over $19 million for the cause.

On Board: Customers can donate by putting cash (any currency) or gift cards into a plastic bag provided by the cabin crew that will be collected by flight attendants wearing gloves. 

Delta is also adding a QR code in the Delta-provided snack kit on flights greater than 250 miles. By scanning this QR code, customers can use a card to donate to BCRF. 

Online: You can also donate year-round on delta.com and through SkyWish, the charitable arm of Delta’s SkyMiles and frequent flyer program, which allows Delta and its SkyMiles members to donate miles to charitable organizations worldwide.  

The airline’s Pink Boutique is virtual, offering discounted co-branded Delta and BCRF merchandise, including a BCRF/Delta mask.

Missing you, Mary Catherine Lamb. Damn you, breast cancer.

Newest airport amenity? Pre-flight COVID-19 testing.

Because so many countries, and some states, require arriving travelers to have proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test, airports and airlines are rushing to make those tests available at the airport.

We listed some of the programs in our recent post about the new normal in air travel.

Those services, many of which are labeled as pilot programs, include COVID-19 sniffing dogs at the Helsinki Airport; XpresSpa’s new XpresCheck program at JFK International and Newark Liberty International airports: and Alitalia’s COVID-tested flights.

In advance of Hawaii reopening its doors to travelers on October 15, United Airlines is offering COVID-19 testing at San Francisco International Airport. And Hawaiian Airlines is setting up drive-through testing at both SFO and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Elsewhere, COVID-19 testing is available at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), and at airports in Frankfurt, Munich and other German airports.  

In most cases there is charge from $80 to more than $250 for the tests. In some cases, the tests are free.

More COVID-19 tests for air travelers.

A new bundle of airport and airline-hosted COVID-19 testing programs was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 29.

Tampa International Airport (TPA) will run a pilot program in October offering travelers both rapid antigen tests and PRC, Polymerase Chain Rection tests. Fees apply.

Oakland International Airport (OAK) will begin offering free, rapid-result COVID-19 tests to employees and the public beginning Oct. 6. An expansion of the program is planned for October 15, when travel to Hawaii reopens.

JetBlue Airways will begin offering flyers an at-home COVID-19 saliva test via provider Vault Health. Fees apply.

And American Airlines announced it is working with several foreign governments to offer pre-flight COVID-19 tests for customers flying to international destinations.

The program starts in October with flights from Miami International Airport to Jamaica for residents returning home and for flights to the Bahamas.

There are plans to expand to other markets soon.

For American’s domestic flights from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to both Honolulu (HNL) and Maui (OGG), the airline is working with a vendor offering several testing options, including onsite rapid testing at DFW airport. Fees apply.

No doubt other airlines and airports will be rolling out COVID-19 test programs soon. But already the offerings are confusing and, in many cases, costly. Here’s hoping some sort of consistency evolves in the next few months.

The next steps in the new normal for air travel

First: an invite

I’m honored to be one of the presenters at the virtual Travel 2021 Summit on October 7 and 8 and focusing on what travel might be like in the next year.

Registration is free. You can sign up here.

Airports, airlines offer COVID testing, TSA appointments, more

Here is a slightly different version of our story that first appeared on USA TODAY

With Alaska Airlines, JetBlue, United, and other airlines announcing fare sales and new routes for winter, it may feel like air travel is returning to normal.

But after a spike over the Labor Day holiday, the numbers of travelers passing through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints are still way down compared to this time last year.

Throughout the summer, airports were scrambling to enhance cleaning regimes and install hand-sanitizing stations, plexiglass barriers and other health-focused tools. Now airports are adopting new strategies to keep passengers safe and instill confidence in travel.

Here are some of the programs you may encounter:

Security checkpoint by appointment

This month, Denver International Airport (DEN) debuted the free, app-powered VeriFLY program, which blends a checkpoint reservation system with a health check. Passengers download the VeriFLY app (an Android version is on the way) and complete a health survey 24 hours before their flight. At the airport, participants get a touchless temperature check before accessing a dedicated TSA lane.

More robots and robot-like helpers

Airport employees serving as Travel Well Ambassadors at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) roam the terminals reminding passengers to wear their masks. Softbank Robotics’ direction-giving robot, Pepper, has been reprogrammed to serve as a mask nanny as well.

Robots roam airports reminding passengers to put their masks on.

Intelligent sterilizing robots and disinfecting robotic machinery are on duty at Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT)Hong Kong International Airport, and at San Antonio International Airport (SAT).

Cleaning up with UV light and a spritz

You can’t see it, but some airports have air-cleansing bipolar ionization (BPI) devices installed in the heating and air conditioning systems. And an increasing number of airports are using UV and medical-grade UVC light to zap bacteria and viruses on surfaces and, in some cases, people.

London’s Gatwick Airport is installing a Smiths Detection-made system at eight security checkpoint lanes that will send security bins through a tunnel that uses short-wavelength UV-C light for disinfection. 

Bluewater Technologies, a design technology firm in Michigan, has a system that uses medical-grade, UV-C light to quickly sanitize airport luggage carts in a few seconds.

And Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) has installed UV-C sterilization units inside some escalator and walkway mechanisms to continuously clean the handrails.

The Toronto Airport also has a new, voluntary disinfection corridor that uses a chemical-free spray to give passengers a quick pre- or post-flight sanitizing spritz.

COVID-19 testing at airports

Temperature checks may become the norm, though there continues to be debate over who should be responsible for carrying them out. Earlier this month, a new bipartisan Senate bill was introduced that would require the TSA to perform that task.

Now, all eyes are on COVID-19 testing at airports.

On Sept. 22, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), joined trade groups such as Airlines for America (A4A), Airport Council International (ACI) World, and Airports Council International-North America in calling for the systematic testing of all international travelers before their flights.

“This should enable governments to safely open borders without quarantine. And it will provide passengers with the certainty that they can travel without having to worry about a last-minute change in government rules that could spoil their plans,” said IATA Director General Alexandre de Juniac in a statement.

Where to get tested before you fly.

Last week, United Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines announced their own COVID-19 testing pilot programs. United will test its system on passengers flying from San Francisco to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines is setting up drive-through sites near LAX and SFO. Both will launch on or close to Oct. 15, when Hawaii begins allowing out-of-state visitors to bypass quarantine with a negative test result.

XpresSpa, which has temporarily closed its network of in-airport spas, is developing a network of COVID-19 testing centers at airports. So far they have test sites at JFK International Airport and at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The medical clinic at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) offers travelers COVID-19 tests by appointment, with results typically returned within 24 to 72 hours. YVR and Canadian airline WestJet are also creating a pilot program to offer voluntary preflight COVID-19 testing with fast results to passengers boarding domestic flights, according to the CBC.

And through mid-October, Italian airline Alitalia is operating two of its seven daily Rome-Milan flights as “COVID-Tested.” For these flights, only passengers who have tested negative for COVID-19 allowed on the plane. Passengers who arrive at the airport without a certificate proving they have tested negative for the virus 72 hours before boarding can take a fast, free COVID-19 test at the airport.

COVID-19-sniffing dogs

Sniffer dogs named Kossi, left and Miina react with trainer Susanna Paavilainen at the Helsinki airport in Vantaa, Finland, Sept. 22, 2020. The dogs have been trained to detect the coronavirus from arriving passenger samples at the airport.

And passengers flying out of Finland’s Helsinki-Vantaa Airport or Dubai International Airport might also encounter COVID-sniffing dogs.

Look for the seal of approval

Airports Council International (ACI) World recently rolled out a global Airport Health Accreditation program designed to restore public confidence in air travel. The program should also prove to governments that airports are following international health and safety standards.

The voluntary health and hygiene program requires airports to answer questions relating to everything from cleaning and disinfection to physical distancing, staff protection, passenger communications, and facilities.

Airports seeking the Airport Health Accreditation must also provide pictures, videos, and explanations to show how they are following international protocols.

In mid-August, Istanbul Airport became the first airport in the world to be accredited through the program. In early September, Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) was the first airport in North America to receive the designation.

Now other airports are rushing to get the ACI seal of approval.

ACI launched the Airport Health Accreditation in late July with a goal of reaching about 100 or 150 airports, ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira told USA TODAY. But so far more than 300 airports have expressed interest,146 contracts have been signed, 46 airports are accredited and 50 to 60 more requests are arriving each week.

Contributing: Associated Press