In what could become the future of airline travel, Emirates is working with medical professionals to test passengers for COVID-19 before boarding, providing them with results within ten minutes.

Passengers in Dubai International Airport are tested for COVID-19
Passengers in Dubai International Airport are tested for COVID-19 ©Emirates

The first testing began on Wednesday with passengers travelling on an Emirates Airlines flight from Dubai to Tunisia. The blood tests were carried out by medical staff from Dubai Health Authority at the check-in area of terminal 3 in Dubai International Airport, with results provided to passengers within ten minutes. Emirates says it's the first airline to offer such tests and hopes to roll out the scheme to other flights.

It's not yet clear if passengers who test positive for COVID-19 will be refused boarding. However, Emirates has confirmed that the test results could be used to provide confirmation for Emirates passengers travelling to countries that require COVID-19 health certificates.

Emirates passengers test for COVID-19.jpg
The analysis is a blood test with results available in 10 minutes ©Emirates

As well as carrying out testing, the airline has ramped up their public health measures by installing protective barriers at check-in desks and lines at boarding queues for social distancing. Passengers, as well as staff, are required to wear masks at the airport and on board the flight. Inflight services have been modified to further curb the spread of COVID-19 and minimise risk of interaction. For example, magazines are no longer available and cabin baggage is no longer allowed on flights. Under new rules, passengers can only take a laptop, handbag, briefcase or baby items into the cabin.

Dubai medical professionals pose in the airport wearing PPE
Tests are carried out by medical professionals from Dubai Health Authority ©Emirates

"We are glad to work with Emirates on the successful implementation of rapid COVID-19 testing at the airport for departing travellers," said HE Humaid Al Qutami, director-general of the Dubai Health Authority (DHA). "To tackle COVID-19, we have been proactively working with various governmental organisations and the private health sector and we have implemented all necessary measures from public health protection to provision of high-quality health services in line with the latest international guidelines."

The airline has also confirmed that all aircraft will go through enhanced cleaning and disinfection processes in Dubai, after each journey.

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