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United Airlines Won’t Join Delta, Virgin Atlantic in Requiring UK – USA Passengers Have COVID-19 Test

United Airlines Won’t Join Delta, Virgin Atlantic in Requiring UK – USA Passengers Have COVID-19 Test

United Airlines says it won’t follow the lead of Delta Air Lines and its joint venture partner Virgin Atlantic who have both promised to ban passengers who can’t present a negative COVID-19 test certificate within 72-hours of departure on flights between the United Kingdom and the United States beginning December 24.

Delta and Virgin Atlantic made the decision following a direct request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who wants airlines to mandate pre-departure testing on flights from the UK into New York JFK after a new variant of the novel Coronavirus was detected spreading quickly through London.

British Airways was the first to agree to Gov Cuomo’s demands, saying it hoped to have a mandatory testing system set up and ready for New York-bound flights by Tuesday. Delta and Virgin Atlantic will meet the demands slightly later but have decided to extend the testing requirement to all U.S.-bound flights.

United Airlines does not operate flights between the UK and New York JFK and is not believed to have been directly contacted by Governor Cuomo’s office over the request.

However, the airline said it would not copy Delta or Virgin Atlantic but would be ready to enforce proof of pre-departure testing should it be made mandatory by either the British or U.S. federal governments.

A spokesperson for United told us that pre-departure testing would be the responsibility of the passenger to obtain.

“The health and safety of our employees and customers is our highest priority, which is why we have various policies and procedures in place such as mask mandates and requiring customers to complete a “Ready-to-Fly” checklist before the flight acknowledging they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the last 14 days and do not have COVID-related symptoms,” the airline said in an emailed statement.

“United continues following the current guidelines and entry requirements in place at every airport we serve,” the statement continued.

In an effort to lift hastily arranged travel bans, the European Commission today told its member states to allow flights and other traffic from the UK through the use of COVID-19 testing. The U.S. government has not, so far, recommended any further restrictions against travel from the UK.

In light of a new lockdown and the emergence of a new Coronavirus strain, United Airlines has issued a travel waiver for customers ticketed to travel between the U.S. and London Heathrow Airport between December 21, 2020 and January 17, 2021. 

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