With fears of coronavirus — as well as transmission rates — on the rise, Virgin Atlantic has become the first UK airline to introduce pre-flight testing to its cabin and crew. While this new practice of testing before a flight is currently limited to just one base (specifically pertaining to flights to Hong Kong and Shanghai), the company plans to begin to roll out tests to other flight areas, and eventually to all of their crew.
Avoiding blips on the radar
This new testing has Virgin Atlantic pairing directly with GeneMe, the official company providing the current COVID-19 tests. The rapid testing is
done before takeoff. Before each flight, every member of the cabin and crew will be required to do a swab, which will immediately be sent for testing. Results of the testing will be sent directly to an app, which will be made accessible to the members of the crew. The return time for the results of this test is about half an hour, allowing for almost real-time results.
Virgin Atlantic says that this trial, and future expansion, is putting the airline at the forefront of safe air travel. The goal is to safely resume air travel in a post-COVID landscape. Leadership from Virgin Atlantic has said that it is imperative that the UK and the US introduce similar pre-flight testing to airlines, so as to eliminate mandatory quarantines and to minimize travel restrictions between the countries.
Clearer skies ahead
Even though the testing is limited to one flight route, stemming from one base, this bodes well for both the airline industry and travelers everywhere. Successful implementation on a small scale would eventually lead to a larger implementation worldwide. With easy and ready access to safe testing, crews and cabin members could create an air of safety for those who are still afraid or nervous to do so.
In addition, it might not be too much to hope that pre-flight testing could be extended to the travelers as well, though what this might look like is purely speculation at the moment. Once rapid testing grows more economical and easily scaled, it could very well become a possibility. Nevertheless, it will be largely dependent on a nation’s ability to provide timely and reliable tests — and, of course, to provide them to the airline at a reasonable cost. However, for the moment, it provides hope for travelers that the Coronavirus clouds may be passing behind them, leaving the world with clear skies ahead.