Airlines scramble to offer COVID testing for Hawaii-bound visitors


We previously reported that Hawaii is opening to tourism on October 15th with the requirement that you must take a Coronavirus test within 72 hours of arrival in order to avoid quarantine.  Now, in an effort to snag your business, airlines are scrambling to help with that requirement.

a diagram of a travel test

Here’s a round up of the news so far.  We’ll update with more as the information becomes available (come on Delta, where are you?):

  • American Airlines: Starting Oct. 15, the airline will begin a preflight COVID-19 testing program at its Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) hub for customers traveling to Hawaii.  AA also announced testing plans for travel from Miami airport to the Bahamas and Jamaica (the latter is only for Jamaican residents).
  • Alaska Airlines: Alaska Airlines is offering discounted testing ($135) through a downtown Seattle clinic.
  • Hawaiian Airlines: Hawaiian Airlines is offering a mail-in saliva test for $150, which “will be express mailed overnight to guests who will self-collect their sample with assistance from a testing supervisor in a video call. The kit is express shipped overnight to a lab, which will process and analyze the sample and provide travelers their results electronically within 24 hours of receiving the sample.”  Hawaiian Airlines is also offering drive-through testing in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas ($90 for results within 36 hours, or $150 for day-of-travel express service).
  • Oakland Airport: Here it’s not an airline, but an airport that will offer free in-airport testing to all Hawaii-bound travelers.
  • United: Starting on October 15, customers traveling on United from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii will have the option to take a rapid test at the airport ($250) or a self-collected, mail-in test ahead of their trip ($80).  The in-person test will provide results “in approximately 15 minutes and will be available to United customers on the same day as their flight departing from SFO.”  For the mail-in test they recommend that “customers initiate testing at least 10 days prior to their trip and provide their sample within 72 hours of their trip.”

My Take

Some of these options sound like they’re more trouble than they’re worth, but I like the ones that offer in-airport testing since that’s at least theoretically more convenient than finding a test site on your own.  I hope that more airports follow Oakland’s lead in making testing available in-airport and free.  Ideally they’d expand the qualifying destinations beyond Hawaii as well.

Hat Tip: View from the Wing

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[…] give a perspective on pricing, United Airlines is offering Hawaii-bound passengers at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) a r…. While the price is outrageous, the results are available in 15 minutes. In London-Heathrow […]


no thanks. I’ll just go where tests are not required.

See Mexico and Brazil

This whole testing thing is a $$ grab by pharma.

If you fly, you accept a certain amount of risk. False negatives, false positives…whatever.


It sounds like some of the tests being offered don’t comply with the state of Hawaii’s requirements. The state of Hawaii requires the PCR nucleic acid amplification test to be performed from a CLIA certified lab. The rapid tests where you get the results back in under an hour aren’t the nucleic acid amplification test.