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United Airlines testing 1st free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program

Select EWR-LHR flights will be “COVID-Free”

Airlines are falling over themselves to convince and reassure passengers that it is safe to fly during the pandemic.

They are investing in the latest cleaning and sanitizing technologies and creating new protocols for systematic cleaning. They are enforcing mask-wearing policies. And airlines are putting people on the no-fly list if they fail to comply.

And in the absence of a national program to test flyers for COVID-19, airlines are working on COVID-19 testing programs of their own.

Hawaii-bound travelers can get tested – for a fee – in a handful of U.S. airports.

But today United Airlines today announced the world’s first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program for customers.

From November 16 through December 11, United will offer free rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old and crew members on select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR).

Anyone who doesn’t want to be tested will be placed on another flight.

United says this will guarantee that everyone on board over 2 years old on the selected flights will have tested negative before departure.

Premise Health will administer the rapid testing pilot program for the selected EWR-LHR flights. And tests will be given to passengers traveling on United Flight 14, departing at 7:15 p.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

Customers will need appointments for the tests at least three hours before their flight. The on-site testing facility will be at the Newark United Club near Gate C93.

Earlier this month, United began offering customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii the option to take a same-day, pre-flight rapid test at the airport for a fee. The program allows customers with a negative result to bypass Hawaii’s mandatory quarantine requirements.

And just last week, United participated in a test program between New York/Newark and London of CommonPass, a digital health pass.

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.

United Airlines axes change fees. Delta, American, Alaska follow.

United Airlines dumps the change fees permanently.

Unless you’re flying “basic economy”

Travelers hate change fees. Airlines love them and make a lot of money from those fees.

At least they used to.

With the arrival of COVID-19, most airlines have been temporarily waiving ticket change fees.

United Airlines has been temporarily waiving change fees too.

But on Sunday United Airlines announced that is dumping change fees permanently for all standard Economy and Premium cabin tickets – but not for basic economy tickets – for travel within the U.S. 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Customers will not be limited in the number of times they adjust their flights,” the airline said in a statement.

“When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of this fee is often the top request,” said Scott Kirby, CEO of United Airlines, in a video message.

We hope and expect other airlines to do the same.

But wait, there’s more.

United also announced that, as of January 1, 2021, any customer can stand by for an earlier flight for free. “If a seat is available for that flight, we’ll assign you one before departure,” the airline promises.

Mileage PlusPlus Premier members will be able to confirm a seat on a different flight on the same day with the same departure and arrival cities as their original ticket if a seat in the same ticket fare class is available.

Delta and American Airlines nix change fees too.

As expected, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines joined United in ending the $200 fee for ticket changes.

Each has their own take on the policy.

Southwest Airlines never charged fees for changing tickets in the first place.

CLT: 5 Things We Love About Charlotte Douglas International Airport

We are missing traveling around the country and the world.

So Stuck at the Airport has kicked off its long-planned series celebrating the features and amenities at airports.

Here’s a link to the airports we’ve profiled in the “5 Things We Love At …” series so far.

Want to nominate an airport to be featured in the series and/or sponsor one of the episodes? Get in touch.

Today join us in celebrating 5 Things We Love About Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

As always, if we missed your favorite thing at CLT, please add a note in the comments section below. And keep in mind that some amenities mentioned may be temporarily unavailable due to health concerns, but we are sure they will be back.

5 Things We Love about Charlotte Douglas International Airport

1. The Rocking Chairs at CLT

CLT oozes charm with its signature rocking chairs.

The welcoming amenity first debuted at CLT in 1997 and since then hundreds of airports around the country have added rocking chairs of their own.

CLT also has towering Ficus trees in the terminal and a piano just waiting for volunteers to sit down and serenade passengers.

2. Selfie Stations at CLT

To add a bit of fun to layovers, CLT has several #TakeMySelfie stations in the terminal.

You will find giant CLT letters on the wall at Checkpoint E; a colorful vintage postcard on the Concourses A/B Connector; and a Queen Charlotte mural in the Concourse A Expansion. 

3. Shopping at CLT

Take a look at some of the fun gifts and souvenirs you can pick up at CLT.

4. CLT’s Airport Overlook

CLT’s Airport Overlook is a large area near the airport (7300 Old Dowd Road) with parking, picnic tables, and benches. It is a perfect spot for watching aircraft take off and land.

Inside the airport, the best place to get great views of the Charlotte skyline is from Concourses D and E.

5. Art at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

The work of at least 14 artists, many of them local, is featured at CLT airport. Here are just a few of our favorites.

Charlotte is known as the Queen City and there’s a statue of Queen Charlotte by Raymond Kaskey in the garden area between the East and West Daily Parking Decks.

On the Concourse A Expansion near Gates A21 and A22 is Refik Anadol’s “Interconnected.” The piece is a series of three massive LED screens with ever-changing digital artwork modeled on real-time airport operations data.

It looks abstract, but the work is translating particles representing flight arrivals, departures, baggage movements and airport parking into millions of pixels.

And there’s there’s Journey 1 and Journey 2, by Ráed Al-Rawi. Charming!

EVV: 5 THINGS WE LOVE ABOUT EVANSVILLE REGIONAL AIRPORT

Stuck at The Airport continues its “5 Things We Love About…” series today with “5 Things We Love About Evansville Regional Airport (EVV)” in Indiana.

If we have missed a feature or amenity at EVV that you love, please be sure to add in the comments section below.

And keep in mind that some of the features we mention may be temporarily unavailable due to health concerns.  

Before we get started, here’s a link to all the other airports we’ve featured so far in the 5 Things We Love About… series. Feel free to nominate an airport for the series. If you want to sponsor one of the episodes, get in touch.

5 Things We Love About Evansville Regional Airport (EVV)

1. EVV’s business lounge

EVV’s free-to-use post-security business lounge has privacy booths, couch seating, privacy shielded tables and “fishbowl” offices.

Bonus “get things done” extras include free Wi-Fi and seats with charging outlets in the terminal.

2. EVV’s Second Saturday Stories

Here is a great way to make an airport a key part of the community.

EVV’s “Second Saturday Stories” is a storytelling program in partnership with the local library system that takes place at the airport on, you guessed it, the second Saturday of each month.

Children and their family members gather at the airport to listen to stories, sing songs, create art about airplanes and aviation, and just have fun.

We also love the play area for kids at EVV

3. EVV’s Iron Compass café

EVV’s Iron Compass Café and bar – the airport’s only restaurant – is a bit different than other regional airport restaurants. The menu includes more than 70 brands of bourbon, from regional Kentucky bourbons to nips of the precious Pappy Van Winkle.

4. EVV’s solar parking canopies

Fewer than 10 airports around the country have solar covered canopies and, at 1.3 megawatts, EVV’s will be the largest solar parking canopy installation in the U.S.

When at full operation the canopies will supply 50 percent of the terminal’s power.

5. Shopping at EVV

Evansville Regional Airport (EVV) has one small gift shop, but it stocks some unusual items.

On the shelves, passengers will find a local line of soap and shampoo for dogs, Evansville-themed “e is for everyone” swag and, for some reason, giant spoons that are more than 3 feet long.

Did we miss a feature or amenity at Evansville Regional Airport that you love? Please add a note in the comments section below.

Have an airport to nominate for the series? Let us know which one and, of course, 5 reasons why you love that airport.