United Airlines’ first transatlantic flight to Heathrow offering free Covid-19 testing arrived today from Newark.

The carrier provided rapid tests to every passenger over two years old and all crew to guarantee that everyone on board tested negative prior to departure.   

The tests were offered onsite at a facility at the United Club at the US airport.

The pilot scheme will continue with passengers flying on United Flight 14, departing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for the next four weeks.

People booking these flights will have the option to confirm their willingness to participate in the trial or be accommodated on another flight.

 Those who opt-in will receive information prior to travel to schedule a testing appointment at least three hours before the flight departs.

All passengers are still subject to current UK entry requirements, including the 14-day quarantine rule.

Governments on both sides of the Atlantic have been invited to observe the pilot scheme and to assess its effectiveness as an alternative to mandatory quarantines and travel restrictions.

 United said it has seen a positive impact on travel demand and significant increases in customer load factors as well as revenue when testing options are available.  

The airline ran six daily Boeing 767 flights between New York/Newark and Heathrow prior to the pandemic.

Chief customer officer Toby Enqvist said: “These flights are a good proof-of-concept for governments around the world that are considering making testing part of the travel experience.

“Expanding our testing efforts with pilot programmes like this one not only helps guarantee passengers onboard test negative for Covid-19, it also adds another element to our layered approach to safety and demonstrates a way to work within quarantines to key international destinations.”