Will U.S. Airlines Soon Require a Negative COVID Test for Domestic Flights?

In recent weeks there’s been a flurry of new rules and regulations that have come out around international air travel and COVID-19.

suitcase with covid testing

From requiring a negative COVID test (or antibody test) for all travelers on inbound international flights, to mandatory 14-day self-quarantines (this one is part of a new Executive Order from the Biden administration and is currently under review by the Health and Human Services Secretary).

So far, U.S. states have been given the autonomy to decide how to handle domestic travelers, with some states issuing quarantine orders and others allowing travelers to decide what is best for them.

In any event, we’re wondering if the airlines will soon implement the requirement of a negative COVID test to take a domestic flight? Already, we’ve seen airlines in other countries (like Qantas in Australia) step up and mandate a negative viral test.

While the list of airports offering COVID-19 testing is growing, to date there hasn’t been a mandate for domestic flights and testing or a move by the airlines to require it. The CDC recommends people test within 72 hours of a domestic flight departure, and also a 7-day self-quarantine when you return home. The CDC also suggests a post-trip COVID test 3 to 5 days after your trip concludes. If these were to become rules rather than suggestions, would it impact your likelihood of traveling?

For now, this is a hypothetical question. Sound off in the comments below and let us know how you’d feel if the airlines were to implement additional testing requirements for domestic air travel. Do you think this move would be great for public health and you’d applaud it, or would you see this as an infringement on your personal freedoms?

123 Comments

      1. I haven’t traveled in consideration of spreading the disease to other more vulnerable people. I myself am not worried. But it’s not just about you. It is selfish of you to only think of yourself.
        my uncle died of a heart attack because the hospital turned him away, they were too full with Covid patients. Please think about it.

    1. Requiring Kovid 19 vaccinations to travel is even worse than the testing. In the future it will be mandatory, called digital passport.

    2. What does that kind of comment say about your knowledge about viruses and diseases?
      It’s a responsibility of all people to protect each other from eminent threats of war or other means of death like diseases.
      It won’t matter what social order is in place when we are all wiped out.

    3. Probably best you stay home anyway since you don’t seem to care about anyone but yourself! Maybe you have been under a rock for the last 11 months but 1,000’s of people in this country have died. 1,000’s have hospitalized. 1,000’s have lasting medical effects from this!

    4. I haven’t traveled in consideration of spreading the disease to other more vulnerable people. I myself am not worried. But it’s not just about you. It is selfish of you to only think of yourself.
      my uncle died of a heart attack because the hospital turned him away, they were too full with Covid patients. Please think about it.

  1. I would feel at ease knowing passengers flying on the same flight as I am have been tested. Should have been implemented long time ago.

    1. In my line of work, we have seen people test negative (false negative) then contaminant the work area where others of gotten sick and died. There seems to be no 100% way to prevent the spread of COVID19 short of 100% lockdown for 100% of the population for three weeks or longer.

    2. I haven’t traveled in consideration of spreading the disease to other more vulnerable people. I myself am not worried. But it’s not just about you. It is selfish of you to only think of yourself.
      my uncle died of a heart attack because the hospital turned him away, they were too full with Covid patients. Please think about it.

    1. Hi Evelyn, at this point, the question hypothetical since it is not required, so that these are some possible hypothetical options. Some states, do offer free COVID-19 testing or through insurance. It could be the passenger needing to travel would pay for it. We have also started to see some resorts outside of the US offer free testing to encourage travel, so that might be an option as well. Thanks for the question.

  2. I would not be in favor of further testing for domestic travel since the test itself is faulty. Numerous cases of people testing false positive have been reported over the last several months. The WHO was one of the prominent bodies to admit the test was unpredictable.

    1. That it’s the truth! My husband and I researched this today. The tests are very faulty. We decided that if it comes to this, we will not fly, but take more road trips.

  3. Those tests are very expensive and hard to get access. This will definitely cause less travel. those tests should be free!!

    1. Yes, hopefully, there will be more access to free COVID-19 testing. At least, as of now, these tests are not required to fly domestically.

        1. Hi Quendia, if you are flying domestically, no. Florida, currently, doesn’t have any requirements for out of state visitors.

  4. I probably won’t travel much then. I am sad for the airlines and hotel business. It’s alot of problem for travel already now with the covid 19 test. It is just too much of a hassle to travel. Might as well stay home and travel by car.

    1. Thanks for your feedback. As of now, they are not required. We are also hoping for better days ahead where we can travel safely with minimal inconveniences.

        1. Hi Luise, for international travel, yes, you still need a COVID-19 test to fly back to the U.S. This will hopefully change as more people have access to the vaccine or there is more data from the vaccine. For domestic travel there is no requirement at this time.

  5. I would not ever travel again if required to take a test or show a vaccine card or app This is America. Make your own choices. You know your chances and make your own choice.

    1. No vaccines should not be required. If you want to be a test lab rat for the vaccine go ahead but we should not be “forced” to take it. Its only 66% effective and the virus is 99.98% survivable! NO common sense here!

  6. We are NOT in favor of mandatory testing before or after domestic travel. That should be left up to the individual

  7. As long as tests were easy quick and free, it would be great for everyone involved. However, that it is probably unlikely.

  8. We have traveled to Florida 4 times, Vegas once, and California once just in the last year since Covid hit the USA. I believe that the airlines are taking every precaution necessary to avoid a Covid outbreak. I also firmly believe that if you travel it is a risk you choose to take on because you want to go on vacation. If people are fearful of flying because of Covid, I say then that they should stay home. No one is forcing people to get on a plane. it is their choice. Leave the rest of us alone and stop dictating what we as a free society can and cannot do.

    1. Thank you!! Traveling by plane has always been a risk of getting sick. Just carry your sanitizer and clean all surfaces when you sit down!! Wear a mask if required. But stop the madness and scare tactic. If you are high risk and scared stay home or travel by car!

  9. There are lots of beautiful places in this country that can be reached by car. Should airlines require Covid tests for domestic flights or vaccines we will not fly.
    I think many airlines will loose passengers (lots of $$$) the more demanding their rules become as many people won’t be willing to submit to more tyranny.

  10. Neither myself nor any of my family members will fly if Covid test are required or vaccines are required.

  11. No way! I nor any of my family members would travel by air if tests were required. I see airlines going out of business if they force these tests.

  12. My understanding is that there is a 30 to 40percent error rate in the kind of tests to be used. That’s not helpful.

  13. That’s ridiculous!! What also ridiculous is seating separately in airport terminals but sitting elbow to elbow in the airlines. I guess COVID doesn’t enter the fuselage!! Right?!?

  14. No way! I would not fly if they required
    tests. I see airlines losing a lot of business should they try and enforce it

  15. Unless they close state borders then there is always automobile to get places(takes longer, but scenery is good).

  16. If this becomes a mandate, I won’t be flying. And good question? Who’s going to pay for these tests? At the rate of the handling of this pandemic by the people in power, covid 19 will never completely go away. Masks, social distancing etc is already the new normal that will stay.

  17. I don’t support testing for domestic flights. Testing is not particularly accurate. Anyone who has been fully vaccinated should be able to travel freely.

  18. I travel to visit my parents in Chicago every two months. This would mean that I would have to pay for a Covid test twice, before I go and again before I come home. Rapid tests are not reliable. I would not spend the money. I would not fly. I’ve taken four trips since the pandemic, with masks and social distancing, I have stayed healthy. I’m really getting tired of losing my freedom as an American.

    1. Hi Algis, right now there is no distinction for those vaccinated vs those not vaccinated. This may change as more people have access to the vaccine or there is more data. Currently, for international travel, you need to show proof upon your return flight but there are no testing requirements for domestic travel.

  19. I had the vaccine. As more people take the vaccine, I see no reason fir testing. I have flown numerous times without any issues. I do not think anyone had the right to demand a test. That should be my choice.

    1. Hi Pa, hopefully as more people have access to the vaccine, the test will not be required for international travelers. As of now, the test is not required for domestic travel.

    1. Hi Kris, for international travel, those vaccinated still need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test. For domestic flights, a test is currently not required for anyone but we recommend checking state guidelines.

    1. Hi J, for international travel, documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 from a licensed health professional will do instead of a COVID-19 test. For domestic a test is not currently required.

  20. We were traveling to Vegas in Early march, but Spirit airlines chopped a day off our departure date and Jet Blue chopped 12 hours off our leave time to return home, we were only going for 4 days as it was, We had to cancel our trip because we would be flying from Boston to Vegas and Vegas to Boston in a matter of 4 days and this making our trip not worth the long flights plus, why do airlines get to change your flight weeks after you book it and there is no charge to them but if we wanted to change our flight we certainly would be charged some kind of Change FEE?,, I get this isn’t completely Covid related we decided it wasn’t worth having to quarantine for 10 days when we returned for a 3 day total trip thanks to the chopped flights that we were left with. This is why people are not flying.. not ok to change peoples flights and think people would be ok with that.

    1. Hi Michelle, we agree, the system is not always fair. The good thing is that most airlines have removed change fees this year due to COVID. Plus if your airline has schedule changes that are significant, airlines allow for free changes or refunds. If you booked with us, we’d be happy to go over your options. You can contact our support at help@CheapAir.com with your 10-digit booking number.

  21. Guess those at Cheapair dont need their paychecks, as fact is such orders would only reduce travel….as those mandated orders would simply be viewed as infringements to our personal rights/freedoms. While I recognize the pandemic is real, I also recognize the lack of common sense by the DOC and our authorities this past year. This is a democracy, so if you are afraid of the pandemic, you also have the choice NOT to travel, just as the rest of us can support those business who protect our personal freedoms. Govt has already taken away too many of our liberties this past year, enough is enough.
    PS: Nothing is free (ie; tests), for all those burying their heads in sand, the eventual someone paying for the tests & vaccines is commonly known as the traveler or taxpayer….No testing
    PPS Stop already with all the corporate bail outs…let the banks and airlines fail…are you really niueve enough to think other entrepreneurs wont start up new banks and airlines?

  22. I’m not sure a negative test will prove anything. You could test positive two days after the flight, which would mean you were probably a contagious carrier while you were on the flight, even though you tested “negative” three days before. Unless the airlines are prepared to follow up with extensive contact tracing, a single test is pretty useless. Although I would shudder to think what would happen if airlines required a negative test three days prior to the flight, a negative test on the day of the flight (it would have to be a quickie and take place at the airport), and a negative test three days after the flight (assuming you’ve been in self-quarantine). And what if the passenger has already had a Covid-19 vaccination (both doses) and has proof? Bottom line: a single test doesn’t really tell you anything except for that day; three tests would be expensive and cumbersome; and travel by air is already a hassle.

    1. Hi E, Some airlines have specific testing partners. If you know the airline we can link you to the site to purchase the test. Please note, tests are NOT required for domestic flights at this time. Though it may bypass the quarantine period that some states require. Thanks

  23. Those test are to expensive $250 for a test? The insurance not paid for travel test . So probably not to travel , and the air lines going to lose money .

  24. I don’t know if I would travel if I had to take the test multiple times. If you take the rapid at JFK for Hawaii it’s 200 dollars. I don’t mind taking it to avoid quarantine, but honestly so many businesses are closed so even when I get to my destination, it still feels like a quarantine. I don’t know what to think. I just miss everyone.

  25. I would not support these potential guidelines! We travel frequently but will have to drive or choose an airline who wants to stay in business and does not mandate a vaccination.

  26. What a hoax, when I tried to post a comment, it was blocked with……Duplicate comment detected; it looks as though you’ve already said that!

    would not support these potential guidelines! We travel frequently but will have to drive or choose an airline who wants to stay in business and does not mandate a vaccination.

  27. It should not be any further testing for the domestic flight. Wearing a mask or two also a shield is sufficient.

  28. So if all passengers tested negative would we still have to wear the mask on the flight? And once we reach our destination put our masked back on?

    1. Hi Troy, If on an international trip you will still be required to wear your mask. Everyone receiving a negative test makes it very likely that no one on your flight has COVID-19 but because there are still variables to the results, airlines will likely require the mask to be extra safe. For domestic flights, you will required to wear a mask as well, but as of now, testing is not required to fly within the United States.

  29. I do not believe this should be mandated. It is not constitutional. I will not fly as much if it is forced on us.

  30. If everyone that wants a vaccine gets one, then they will be protected. Those that don’t, won’t. But we should ALL be able to fly or go on a cruise without having to show health papers. I don’t want communism.

  31. It is almost impossible to get tested. Where I live my only option would be to beg my dr after exhibiting symptoms… for travel where will one get a test — and it will be from a certified tester. It’s not realistic

  32. If the testing is done at airport the same day you travel,that is fine! otherwise it’s worthless,still is not safe!

  33. I think it would be good for the public if all passengers test before traveling on all domestic transportation sources. Safety is most important. In oder for the economy to get better people have to trust they are being protected. The costs should be paid by the passenger not the airline. Be responsible protect yourself and others around you and the economy will recover

  34. We would not ever fly if a faulty evasive test was required.
    The new mask rule has already deterred us from flying. Masks are disgusting unhygienic diapers that otherwise healthy folks are constantly touching with their disgusting hands and mouths. Wake up people. This isnt ebola.

  35. I would stop all air travel! It’s against our rights! I think one is smart enough to know the signs of covid… I think one would get tested in the event of feeling sick. Most people are taking the proper steps! No need to keep taking away our rights!

  36. I will plan on traveling by car or stay home if it becomes mandatory. It is a huge infringement on peoples rights to require a test just to fly especially when the test itself is highly inaccurate.

  37. Personally I will not travel!! These text have so many false positives and the rapid test is only 50% actuate. I have no problem with wearing a mask but this is getting ridiculous. As a travel agent Covid has already hurt the travel industry and that’s sad so many places relying on tourists and they are shutting down their businesses is terrible. I have no idea what the future holds only pray things get better and let us decide what to do instead of it being mandatory

  38. Testing/proof of antibodies on domestic flights or proof of vaccine should be required once everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated. Until then, i think masks are fine.

  39. I believe a required Covid test will reduce the amount of travelers, hence resulting in further financial hardships for the airline industry. I recently flew without a test and felt safe from the time i entered the airport, flew, landed and left my destination airport. I think it’s a bad idea since they are now administering the vaccine.

  40. We canceled our yearly trip to Hawaii this winter due to restrictions in Hawaii we are wintering in AZ. Do miss the 🌊

  41. We just cancelled our 6 week yearly winter trip to Mexico because of this. The tests are very expensive there and how reliable are they? What if we get a false positive and had to retest 2-3 times at $100. a test? It would be bad if we could not get back into our own country. I just heard on national news yesterday that American Airlines has already been affected by this and are beginning to make cuts. Hasn’t this hurt our economy enough? I think it’s a bad idea and is going to further hurt and already bad economy.

  42. For those who have fully recovered from Covid, I understand they will have some immunity but would also test positive for up to 90 days. What proof would they need to be able to fly?

    1. Hi Virginia, those who recently had COVID-19, to return internationally, will need to show documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 that is obtained from a licensed health provider.

  43. Solution; include in the travel cost a free covid rapid test at the airport. This would stop anyone from getting sick within the time between a previous test and arriving at the airport.

  44. I have been in Aruba for 3 weeks and was required to have a negative test 72 hours before arrival. I took the test in the us but my test did not come back before my flight departed so I had to take it in Aruba at the airport which was 75.00. Then you have to have another negative test to leave. 100.00. I do not mind testing but the cost is high and insurance does not pay for the test if it is for travel. At least in Aruba I received my test results back within 12 hours. We have a trip scheduled for Jamaica in March but we are going to put it off for a while. So in response to your question we will definitely not be traveling out of the country for a while and if they start testing requirements and other restrictions for domestic travel then we will not be traveling.

  45. I have a domestic trip planned in April and would be happy if everyone was tested as I am immunocompromised and would feel much safer .

  46. Yes, I would be ok with testing and quarantine restrictions. I want to see this killer virus eradicated. Yes, requirements like this are a sacrafice but all our lives are worth the temperary inconvenience.

  47. Would a completed two shot vaccine series, with a card to prove it, take the place of a COVID19 test? Any discussion on that?

    1. Hi Bonnie, as of now, for international travel, being vaccinated does not replace the need for the test. We think as more people get vaccinated or if it is proven that those vaccinated cannot spread COVID this policy may change. To fly domestically, please check between the states you are flying to. Testing is not required domestically but some states do require quarantine.

  48. I would feel much safer knowing everyone on the flight is negative. It should have always been a requirement for the safety of the flight crew and passengers.

  49. I think anything the airlines can do to help with the spread of Corvid should be done. All American should be willing to help keep this deadly disease under control. During WW1and 11 the whole country helped , so why is this so different? We are at war with this virus. Please help each other and do what the CDC tells us to do. I haven’t like many other people haven’t seen their grandchildren in months. Isn’t this a sacrifice too?

  50. Know people that fly to Florida and had their cars ship whyare the rules different for driving back does not seem right

    1. Yes! We are also seeing that many resorts are offering free testing but please make sure to double-check with your resort.

  51. My understanding is that NYS requires a Covid test both prior and post any trip (domestic or international) outside of NYS. My insurance will not pay for this. Is it a possibility that having the series of vaccines prior to flight will replace this rule? To me, this would ensure even more peace of mind for everyone traveling.

    1. Hi Dawn, New York requires either a 10 day quarantine period or a negative COVID test. As of now, the CDC is not allowing proof of vaccine to replace the need of a negative COVID-19 test for international flyers, some states may decide to allow it but as of now, it looks like New York also requires quarantine or a test. That may change as more people have access to the vaccine or the vaccine proves to reduce the spread of COVID. You can see the most up to date information for New York here: https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-travel-advisory.

  52. When we can travel by car, horse, buggy and by foot from state to state, why the need for testing constraints with using a different travel vehicle…plane?
    While flying is quicker, its not worth the additional hassle, and besides you can see more of this beautiful country by ground travel.
    Let the airlines go bankrupt, they get too much federal assistance anyways for being a private business

  53. I would not travel by airlines. This is an infringement on my rights. I have not even had the flu for 35 years and am healthy but also would not travel with any symptoms.

    1. Hi Lora, as of now, a vaccine does not replace a COVID test for international travel. That may change in the future. Also, just to clarify, currently to travel domestically you do not need a COVID test though some states do have quarantine restrictions.

  54. I will be traveling to Mexico in May. I have had the covid-19 shot and carry my card with me. How will I get back into the US? If they don’t accept the vaccine. Will they have testing in Mexico? This is another government skim. Why get the shot if no one will accept it as proof.

    1. Hi Tammy, as of now, yes, you will be required to take show proof of negative COVID-19 results before boarding your return flight to the US even if you had the vaccine. The vaccine has proved to keep those who have the shot from getting seriously sick from COVID but it is still not known if the person can get asymptomatic COVID and possibly spread it. As more information is known, or more people have access to the vaccine, it is possible that the vaccine will replace this testing requirement. Testing in Mexico is readily available. We recommend you check with the airline or if you are staying at a resort check with them, as many resorts are starting to offer free testing. Thank you.

  55. The travel industry will be destroyed for domestic flights it is difficult to get tested in many states 3 days before since testing is booked in advance and turn around for testing can take more than 3 days so no I think it’s not good idea . Mask worn sterilizing planes is key

  56. Good luck finding testing in NY Westchester County. Understanding this is hypothetical😃😃will I be able to travel if I show proof of Covid shots? I am really tired of the government telling what I can and cannot do or say

  57. I’m flying to NC on a Thursday night and back on the following Monday it would be impossible to take a test for both flights I would rather just drive

  58. The problem is that is the travel
    Is for vacation there is no point on spending so much money if 7 out of your 10 days of vacation time you have to quarantine. I would rather wait.

  59. There too many crazy requirements already. It is very hard to try to get a PCR test done and to receive a written a (72 hours written) Negative report. I will have to drive 4 hours to special laboratory each way twice. Once to get tested and second time to obtain the report. For $150 per test. Then do the same thing for the return flight. We will be introducing many forgeries.

  60. We have to take precautions during this deadly pandemic. Unfortunately many Are not taking suggested precautions so why should those of us who are taking precautions be exposed by those who refuse. Testing for domestic and international travel can help so why not. Those who choose not to can make other arrangements. To follow guidelines to protect public health is necessary.

  61. We have to take precautions during this deadly pandemic. Unfortunately many Are not taking suggested precautions so why should those of us who are taking precautions be exposed by those who refuse. Testing for domestic and international travel can help so why not. Those who choose not to can make other arrangements.

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