American Airlines and British Airways are attempting to entice premium business travelers back to the skies on transatlantic routes by providing complimentary COVID-19 tests that conform with US and UK admission criteria.
Strong demand for premium leisure flights has boosted British Airways owner IAG in recent weeks, but there are still just “early signs of a revival in business travel,” according to chief executive Luis Gallego.
Long-haul traffic is recovering quicker than short-haul traffic, and with Europe facing a winter of work-from-home rules, American Airlines and British Airways may aim to profit from a resurgence in transatlantic business travel.
American Express Global Business Travel (GBT) has experienced a 70% increase in transatlantic business reservations since President Biden relaxed the travel prohibition for immunized travelers.
COVID-19 testing is becoming a more cost-effective and accessible component of the new travel experience, but the cooperation with GBT aims to completely eliminate the expense of tests for business travelers flying with American Airlines or British Airways.
Most fully vaccinated travelers flying between the United States and the United Kingdom will need to take two quick antigen tests: one within three days of arrival in the United Kingdom and another before departing for the United States.
If taken within the specified dates, a single test can sometimes be doubled.
“Ensuring corporate travelers have access to efficient, accurate testing is one of the key components to ramping up business travel across the trans-Atlantic corridor,” said Mark Muren, Head of Global Sales at British Airways.
“Corporate travel managers know that there’s incredible pent-up demand for business travel but coordinating the logistics of testing can sometimes be a challenge, especially for trips booked close to departure,” explained Andrew Crawley, Chief Commercial Officer at GBT.
“By providing every premium customer traveling for business on a flight ticketed with American Airlines or British Airways with access to a test kit as part of the travel booking, we’re streamlining one critical step to making sure today’s business leaders can return to the skies and conduct their important work face to face.”
For a long time, American Airlines and British Airways have offered cheap examinations through testing provider Qured, but this is the first time the airlines are giving the tests away for free.
The complimentary testing will only be accessible to passengers who have purchased a ‘premium’ seat on an American Airlines or British Airways flight departing from the United States or the United Kingdom. GBT is the only way to make reservations.
The tests can be done at home or on the road, and include a remote consultation and a ‘fit to fly’ certificate in the case of pre-departure exams for the United States. Onward travel to nations that require PCR tests or in-person testing is not possible with these tests.