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United and CDC Partner on Contact Tracing Program

United is partnering with the CDC to announce an industry-first voluntary contact tracing program for all U.S. departures to domestic and international destinations, the carrier announced on Wednesday.

Beginning Thursday, Dec. 17, passengers will have the option to offer their information (name, phone number, email address and the location they will be staying at their final destination) for contact tracing purposes.

Information can be entered purposes at all points of check-in including the United App, United.com, kiosks in the airport lobby, and in Aero, the agent’s system.

The program is designed to collect detailed, real-time information that will better support CDC efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said 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.

“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.

“Initiatives like testing and contact tracing will play a significant role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 until a vaccine is widely available,” said United's Chief Customer Officer Toby Enqvist.

In October, the carrier began offering passengers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii the option to take a same-day, pre-flight rapid test at the airport or a drive-through test to bypass Hawaii's mandatory quarantine requirements.

United also participated in two international test programs. The airline offered rapid tests to every passenger over 2 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/New York 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. United will continue to offer ways to expand testing as a means of opening borders safely.

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