The free tests will initially be offered to passengers booked on American Airlines flight AA50 departing Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport to London Heathrow, British Airways flight BA114 departing New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport to London Heathrow and British Airways flight BA268 from Los Angeles International Airport to London Heathrow beginning November 25.
Passengers who choose to participate in the programme booked on flights that are part of the trial, will be contacted by American Airlines and British Airways with instructions, on how to volunteer. Each passenger participating in the trial will take three tests in conjunction with the journey. If a customer tests positive, they should reschedule or cancel their travel.
The first test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the United States is a convenient at-home RT-PCR test provided by LetsGetChecked. Passengers will self-collect a nasal sample, under the supervision of medical professionals via a virtual visit.
After landing at London Heathrow, participating passengers will proceed to their second test at the airport. The Lamp test provided by Collinson which involves the collection of a nasal sample by a medical professional.
Once the test is completed, a test kit for the third test will be provided to the passenger. The test kit offers an at-home testing option, through the self-collection of a saliva sample which is taken three days after arrival in to the United Kingdom.
The three-test approach, aims to validate a passenger’s negative status for COVID-19 throughout the travel journey and, will provide insight into the most effective and practical testing interval. The third test is intended to further confirm the results of the first two tests, to demonstrate that one or two tests would be sufficient to allow travel to safely restart.
A task force comprising oneworld member airline representatives and independent medical experts are overseeing the implementation of the trial. The task force will also share aggregated results with the US and UK Governments and other stakeholders to demonstrate the essential role that COVID-19 testing programmes can play in safely restarting travel.
Based on current UK Government policies, international travellers arriving in the UK from the US are required to self-isolate for 14 days even if, they have tested negative for COVID-19. The tests being used as part of the trial will not impact UK National Health Service testing capacity.
British Airways and American Airlines have worked with Heathrow on implementation of the trial in to Terminal 5 and as a result, Heathrow is now exploring whether trials can be introduced, on more routes between the airport and the United States.
The trial for each individual passenger will comprise of: an initial at-home test to be taken 72 hours before departure from the United States; a second test to take place upon arrival at London Heathrow; and the third test three days after arrival in the United Kingdom.
Ultimate objective of this and other trials is to validate that a pre-departure test provides a high level of certainty of a passenger being COVID-19 negative, which are hoped to result in policies that further relax border restrictions of United States and United Kingdom, including the 14-day quarantine and entry into the United States.