PHOENIX (3 On Your Side) – Before take-off, travelers flying into the United States must now show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or proof of recovering from the illness.
The new rules went into effect Tuesday, requiring passengers on airplanes bound for the U.S. to get a viral test within three days prior to the flight’s departure, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Airlines are responsible to confirm passengers’ tests, and if a customer does not provide necessary documentation, it’s on the airline to deny boarding. The requirements were announced on January 12, two weeks prior to implementation.
“This puts the airlines in a difficult position because they are essentially the front line enforcement for make sure the passengers are following the new rules,” said Scott Keyes, the founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights.
Keyes says some passengers are scrambling to get tested in time for their return trip.
“Let’s say you had booked a two week vacation a week ago and you realize that now, coming back, that you have to have a negative COVID-19 test that you never accounted for,” Keyes said. “You don’t’ know how to figure it out.”
The travel industry is trying to help passengers navigate the new requirements. American Airlines is using the VeriFLY app so travelers can enter negative COVID-19 test results, and United just launched a ‘travel-ready center’ on its app and website where travelers can upload required documents. The airline says soon, the new online tool will also allow customers to book a COVID-19 test at 15,000 testing sites around the world.
Meanwhile, many hotels and resorts, especially in Mexico and the Caribbean, are offering on-site testing, according to Paul Brady, the articles editor at Travel + Leisure. (Travel + Leisure is owned by the Meredith Corporation, which also owns Arizona’s Family).
“In many cases you don’t even have to leave the resort to get your test,” Brady told 3 On Your Side. “They come to you, all in time for you to meet this new mandate of a negative test within three days.”
Brady expects on-property testing to become standard, at least in the near term.
“Fundamentally, hotels and resorts, wherever they are in the world, they’re about hospitality, and this is just the weird new reality that we’re in. Part of that hospitality is supplying you with a COVID-19 test,” he said. “The more hotels and resorts can make that easy for folks, I think the odds are that they’ll win over some business.”
International travelers should call or email their hotel to find out if testing will be offered prior to the return flight. Brady says travelers may also want to consider using a travel advisor to help meet COVID-19 requirements, both in the U.S. and abroad.
In addition to required testing, the CDC also recommends passengers get a second test within three to five days after arriving in the U.S. The agency also recommends travelers say at home for seven days after the trip.
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