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First transatlantic flight with mandatory Covid tests lands at London Heathrow

A transatlantic flight on which all on board have tested negative for coronavirus has touched down in London.

United Airlines flight 14 from Newark airport in New York to Heathrow landed at 6.41am. It is the first in a series of a dozen transatlantic flights in November and December for which the crew and all passengers aged two and above are obliged to take a free Covid test before boarding the plane.

Each passenger takes a nucleic acid amplification test, known as NAAT, at Newark airport. They are not believed to be as reliable as the PCR tests used by the NHS.

One of just 37 passengers booked on the 300-seat aircraft tested positive and was told to postpone their trip. 

Travellers booked on the flight who do not wish to take the test can switch to another departure free of charge.

During the flight all United’s usual Covid protocols were followed. One passenger, Jodie Williams from Chicago, said: “The test was simple. Just a nasal swab, and you knew the results in 10 minutes.

“We can’t depend on people to get vaccines when they are available, and you can’t depend on people to follow the rules. But if you can at least show that everyone’s negative it will open the borders.”

Although the passengers tested negative for coronavirus in New York, anyone intending to stay in the UK will still be obliged to self-isolate for 14 days in accordance with normal quarantine regulations. The pre-flight health check makes no difference.

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Richard Quest, business editor-at-large for CNN, was on board. He told The Independent: “A prospective passenger at Newark did test positive for Covid. So they were obviously looked after but they weren’t able to travel.

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