Tampa International Airport Offers COVID-19 Tests to All Passengers

Tampa International Airport Offers COVID-19 Tests to All Passengers

Joe Cortez

With airlines launching at-home and on-site COVID-19 testing for travelers heading to certain destinations, Tampa International Airport is launching a program to offer tests for all passengers. Anyone arriving or departing from the airport can request either an antigen or PCR test.

Both arriving and departing passengers from Tampa International Airport (TPA) in Florida can now request a COVID-19 test as they transit. The airport announced they are launching a testing program to run through the month of October 2020.

Airport First to Offer Both Antigen and PCR Tests to Flyers

In cooperation with their partner BayCare Health System, the airport will offer two types of tests for flyers upon request. Travelers can request the $57 rapid antigen test, or the $125 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The antigen test will provide a result within 15 minutes, while a PCR test will take up to 48 hours to process.

To get tested, transiting passengers must visit the walk-in clinic at the main terminal, near the Airside F shuttle. The mini-clinic is open everyday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., and operates on a first-come, first-served schedule. To qualify for a test, travelers must have a ticket for arrival or departure from Tampa International Airport. Tests will only be given to flyers who are traveling in three days or less, or passengers who have arrived within the past 72 hours.

“As a gateway to the West Coast of Florida with a growing market for international travel, Tampa International Airport has a responsibility to explore safe, rapid and affordable ways to keep our travelers, their destinations and our community as safe and healthy as possible,” TPA chief executive Joe Lopano said in a press release. “We’re thankful to our partners at BayCare in helping us create a pilot program that gives us a step in the right direction, as well as providing a valuable service to our passengers.”

Like other travel-focused tests, the ones offered at TPA will only tell flyers if they currently have COVID-19, not if they had it in the past. While the hope is to provide flyers an alternative to quarantine upon their arrival, it is incumbent upon travelers to check destination requirements before travel, and determine which testing will satisfy local health officials. It is unclear if the airport will offer testing into November 2020 or beyond.

COVID-19 Testing Growing Popular Among Airlines and Airports

As the commercial aviation industry continues to crack under the weight of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more airlines and airports are offering testing to prevent the spread of the novel Coronavirus and reassure travelers that it is safe to fly. United Airlines is testing a program for flyers traveling from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Hawaii, which may expand if proven successful. Meanwhile, American Airlines and JetBlue are offering at-home testing for flyers, which they say will allow them to skip the 14-day quarantine requirement at certain destinations.

Both the International Air Transportation Association and United have created maps to help flyers determine current restrictions at destinations, including quarantine requirements upon arrival.