Pittsburgh International Airport is joining a growing list of airports worldwide offering on-site COVID testing for travelers.
A voluntary testing site operated by Savannah, Georgia-based TACKL Health is expected to open beyond the security checkpoint in the Airside Terminal on Monday, Dec. 21. Hours for passenger testing services will be daily from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for ticketed passengers only.
PIT joins major U.S. airports to offer onsite testing, including Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Tampa, San Francisco and others. Testing sites are also available at many airports around the world, including London Heathrow, Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt, Rome, Hong Kong and several airports in Japan.
The decision to offer testing options inside the terminal is an expansion of PIT’s Safe Travels program that features a number of health and safety measures implemented this year in response to the pandemic.
“Whether people are traveling now or planning a trip in the future when they feel more comfortable, we want travelers to know that public health, safety and security are always our top priorities,” said April Gasparri, Senior Vice President of Public Safety, Operations and Maintenance. “This service further demonstrates that commitment and helps to increase traveler peace of mind.”
TACKL Health will offer polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and rapid antigen testing for arriving or departing passengers in a safe and private space in Concourse A across from gate A2 with distanced seating, privacy curtains and directional floor decals.
The rapid antigen tests provide results in 15 minutes and PCR test results take 24-48 hours, on average. Passengers can visit TACKL’s website to schedule appointments, although walk-ups will also be accepted.
The tests at PIT will cost $95 for the rapid antigen, $129 for the PCR, or $175 for both, and can be paid with cash or credit card. Health insurance will not be accepted for payment.
TACKL expects to hire up to eight employees who can perform 300-500 tests per day at PIT. All tests will be administered by licensed, trained healthcare professionals.
Airport officials will not receive test results or heath information, but TACKL will report positive results to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
In Pennsylvania, the state health department issued an order last month requiring anyone coming from another state to have a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours ahead of entering the state, or quarantine for two weeks after arriving in Pennsylvania. As part of the state order, passengers are not required to show test results when entering the airport, checking in for a flight or before boarding a plane, nor is the airport responsible for enforcement.
“The goal of this program is to provide our passengers with a convenient testing option so they can continue to travel confidently and comply with state travel orders,” said Bryan Dietz, Vice President of Air Service Development.
In recent polls conducted by the airport’s Blue Sky News service and on its social media channels, a majority of respondents said they favor COVID testing at the airport, and questions fielded by airport customer service representatives about testing and state travel orders have increased throughout the pandemic.
“During the week of Nov. 16, when the state travel restrictions were announced, we saw an 80 percent increase in emails and more than double the number of phone calls compared to our typical volumes the previous weeks,” said Elise Gomez, PIT’s Customer Experience Manager. “People want to know if there are testing and quarantine restrictions when getting off a plane, and whether they need to present test results upon check-in or boarding.”
Throughout the pandemic, PIT has advanced a number of initiatives for passengers and staff through its Safe Travels program aimed at improving public health and safety in airport facilities.
Recent improvements include mandatory mask requirements, physical distancing signage, plexiglass barriers, reconfigured seating, touchless transaction technology and autonomous floor scrubbing robots.
Additionally, a new handwashing station is being piloted just past security in the Landside Terminal and is expected to be installed by Dec. 16.
For more information about testing and to schedule a testing appointment when traveling through PIT, please visit www.flypittsburgh.com/PITcovidtest.