United and CDC Launch Contact Tracing Initiative on All Flights

(United Airlines)

United Airlines with the support of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a program to collect customer contact information for all international and domestic flights. During the check-in process, United customers will be prompted to voluntarily opt-in and provide contact information, such as an email address, phone numbers and an address of where they will be once they reach their destination—details that were previously difficult for the CDC to obtain in real-time. This effort represents the airline industry's most comprehensive public health contact information collection program to date and the immediate access to the data will better support the CDC's efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the United States and around the world.

"Contact tracing is a fundamental component of the nation's public health response strategy for controlling the spread of communicable diseases of public health concern," said CDC director Dr. Robert R. Redfield. "Collection of contact information from air travelers will greatly improve the timeliness and completeness of information for COVID-19 public health follow-up and contact tracing."

United's program will roll out in phases, beginning this week with the voluntary collection of information for all international arrivals. In the weeks ahead, the airline will phase in domestic and international outbound departures. Customers can opt-in and participate in this effort using United's mobile app, at united.com or at the airport.

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A Safer Travel Experience

United, it says, was the first airline to announce optional pre-flight COVID-19 testing for customers. In October, the airline started offering customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii the option to take a same-day, pre-flight rapid test at the airport or a conveniently located drive-through test for a fee. The program allows customers with a negative result to bypass Hawaii's mandatory quarantine requirements.

Following this effort, United participated in two successful international test programs. In November, United announced the world's first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program for customers, reported by our sister publication Travel Agent. The airline offered rapid tests to every passenger over two years old and crew members on board select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to London Heathrow.  Also, in partnership with CommonPass, a digital health pass aimed at enabling safer travel and the reopening of international borders, customers participated in a test on flights from Newark to London and were able to seamlessly provide their COVID-19 test results to relevant governments.

Most recently in December, United expanded its customer testing efforts to include a new mail-in test option for flights out of Houston to select destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean like Aruba, Belize City and the Bahamas.

For more information on the testing program, visit united.com/covid-testing.

This article originally appeared on www.travelagentcentral.com.

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