Alitalia Launches Intriguing Coronavirus-Free Flights

Filed Under: Alitalia

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.

Bottom line

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?

  1. Now we need the same thing with masks, let people decide and vote with their wallet. Especially when flying between two mask-free destinations (e.g. ARN-HEL) it’s kinda pointless.

  2. False positives make this somewhat more complicated – you could not have the novel coronavirus but still test positive. This would disrupt your travel quite a bit.

  3. You are obviously not aware of the hell that awaits you if you test positive (even false positive) in Italy. You would certainly have preferred not to fly. I’m Italian, trust me. Do not do it.

  4. Meanwhile, the train takes 3 hours 10 minutes, central station to central station. You have to really like airports (or already be at one) to want to fly this route. Even if Alitalia stays in business.

  5. I would absolutely not select one of these flights. Unlike the United States, Italy takes coronavirus very seriously, so, if you test positive — which, if you’re not feeling sick, is likely non-infectious virus debris — you’re facing a very serious quarantine situation, despite not being sick. This is a silly gimmick.

  6. I don’t think this is a good idea. Either have compulsory testing and negative report for ok to fly or don’t, but keeping it selectively on few flights and not on others will not encourage people to take this for fear of coming positive and facing the authorities. God forbid if anyone contracts the virus he would prefer home isolation without getting reported to a medical facility unless the symptoms are serious.

    On the other hand some might be confused at the time of booking when they see COVID TESTED FLIGHT listed, thinking whether the other flights are COVID INFESTED!!!

    This is more of a marketing gimmick as Alitalia thinks we have 6 flights a day between Rome and Milan so lets have testing on 2 of those.

  7. @Samo You’re 100% right, it’s high time airlines begin catering also to those passengers that are fed up with the mask security theater and just want to get comfortably from point A to B without a muzzle on their faces. ARN-HEL is one such example, but think also about ARN-GOT or OSL-SVG…

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