“Would you prefer a flight with or without coronavirus testing?” That’s a question that Alitalia is now asking passengers traveling between Rome and Milan…
Alitalia’s COVID-19 test flights
Alitalia operates over half a dozen flights per day between Rome and Milan, and two of those flights (AZ2038 & 2092) are now being marketed as “an even safer way to fly.”
As of September 16, 2020, Alitalia is operating select flights in the market exclusively for passengers who have undergone a preventive COVID-19 screening with a negative result (either an antigen test or a PCR molecular test). The test has to be taken no more than 72 hours before travel.
There are a few ways passengers can go about testing:
- For those who got tested before travel, a Ministry of Maritime, Air, and Border Health (USMAF) doctor will check the validity of the certificate held by the passenger
- A passenger without a negative certificate can undergo a free rapid antigen test directly at the airport, via a lane dedicated to those two flights
- Results from the tests will be provided within 30 minutes, and passengers have to stay in the test area
- If the result is negative, passengers will receive a negative certificate and can board, while if the result is positive, passengers will need to follow normal health protocols
When you go to Alitalia’s website, you’ll specifically see these flights designated as “COVID-TESTED FLIGHT,” and the fares are identical to those on other flights.
Would you book one of these flights?
I find this concept from Alitalia to be intriguing, and I can’t decide whether I think this is brilliant, or more trouble than its worth:
- The actual process of flying with a mask is fairly low risk, and we’re talking about a short hour-long flight here
- If I’m taking an hour-long flight, I’m much more worried about getting coronavirus on the train or in a taxi to the airport, or at the actual airport, like while queueing at security
- This will probably add an hour to your journey, which isn’t insignificant for such a short flight
- This still doesn’t guarantee that others around you don’t have coronavirus; someone could have been tested nearly 72 hours ago, and a lot can change in that time
- That being said, I think getting tested as often as possible is a good thing, and booking these flights gets you free testing
Ironically I might choose this flight not necessarily because I’d feel unsafe on the other flights, but rather because it’s an easy opportunity to get tested for free while traveling.
Alitalia has become the first airline to operate flights on the same route where some require testing and others don’t.
On the one hand, I wouldn’t be terribly concerned about getting coronavirus on a short flight where everyone is wearing a mask. On the other hand, I might still seek out one of these flights because it’s an opportunity to get tested for free, and that’s always a good thing.
What do you make of Alitalia’s flights that require testing? Would you book a test or non-test service, all else being equal?