Some enterprising companies are subsidising the cost
With summer holidays back on the agenda this year under a traffic light system, hardy travellers are booking breaks in the sun.
However, travel isn’t as simple as it used to be: many countries now demand tourists now present a negative Covid test on arrival, which needs to be taken within a certain timeframe beforehand. This is sometimes referred to as a “Fit to Fly” test.
UK travellers are not permitted to use the free NHS testing service and must instead go through a private firm to obtain their result although, increasingly, travel firms are luring holidaymakers with discounted or subsidised travel tests.
All returning travellers, meanwhile, will be required to take at least two tests: one before departing for the UK, which can be a lateral flow or rapid antigen; and at least one PCR test within two days of arrival to the UK, depending on whether they’ve been to a green, amber or red country.
PCR tests for travel can often run into hundreds of pounds, particularly for a family.
Here’s where to find a test that’s cheaper than the average rate of £120.
Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted Airports
The leading airport Covid-19 testing provider has announced it will drop the price of its PCR and antigen tests.
Collinson, which offers onsite testing at Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, City, Manchester, East Midland and Stansted airports, will cut PCR and lateral flow antigen test prices to £66 and £32 respectively from 17 May.
The provider has also announced it will be rolling out same-day result Lamp tests across the UK’s airports.
These can be used by travellers returning from amber countries in order to leave quarantine early on day five (providing the result is negative)
Here’s the full price list:
- PCR Fit to Fly: £66
- Lateral Flow (Antigen) Fit to Fly: £32
- LAMP Fit to Fly: £68
- Antibody Fit to Fly: £32
- Green Arrivals PCR: £66
- Amber Arrivals PCR: £132
- Same Day Test to Release: £76
Boots UK has launched a PCR self-test package for £65.
It’s selling an at-home PCR self-test – offered by MyHealthChecked – that can be purchased on boots.com and delivered to customers’ homes the next day. The test, which is also available at over 500 Boots stores, is priced at £65. Boots Advantage Card holders can purchase it using their points or earn points to spend on other items at Boots.
Boots also offers an in-store Covid-19 PCR Testing Service for £99, which is now available at over 200 stores in the UK and offers results within 48 hours. Its in-store Rapid Antigen Testing Service, meanwhile, costs £79.99 and provides same-day results in more than 15 stores.
All three private Boots tests can be used as a private pre-flight testing service, depending on the specific requirements of the destination country and airline, for customers who require a negative Covid-19 certificate before travelling abroad.
Boots is also now an accredited test provider for the government’s Test to Release scheme, offering next-day results for those wishing to reduce their home quarantine by taking a voluntary test on the fifth day after arriving in England from a country not on the ‘red list’. Later this month, Boots will become an accredited test provider for day two and day right testing for international arrivals, offering at-home PCR self-test kits with results typically within 48 hours from receipt of the sample at the laboratory.
Britain’s biggest holiday firm announced in early May it would be offering PCR tests for just £20 for its customers, in an effort to make summer holidays more affordable.
Tui, which has partnered with provider Chronomics, will sell a range of tiered Covid test packages to customers travelling to “green” and “amber” destinations this summer.
Tui’s testing packages start at £20 for green list travellers who require just a pre-departure lateral flow test and a PCR test on arrival.
For £60, the package includes an extra PCR test if one is needed for entry to the holiday destination.
For amber list travellers, the package costs £50 to cover UK testing requirements, rising to £90 for the additional outbound PCR test.
If a destination changes from amber to green, Tui says it would refund the difference.
Travellers will be able to order tests on a new Chronomics and Tui booking hub.
British Airways is offering discounted rates with government-approved Covid-19 testing providers with prices starting from £39.
Options available include:
– Test before you fly (evidence of a negative Covid-19 test at your departure airport)
– Arrivals testing (on arrival in the UK for quarantine tests on days two and eight)
– Test to Release (reducing your time in self-isolation by paying for a Covid-19 test as part of the Government’s ‘Test to Release’ scheme)
Test providers include Qured, Randox, Halo, Medicspot and LetsGetChecked.
Tests can be done at home, at testing centres and selected major UK airports.
Passengers travelling on selected routes can also upload their Covid-19 test results to an app called VeriFLY to certify their test certificates.
The budget airline has partnered with testing kit brand Randox to offer passengers 50 per cent off, with kits costing £60 instead of £120.
The discounted price will be available on both pre-departure tests and on arrival back into the country, and is only available for travellers based in the UK.
The UK’s biggest budget airline has partnered with Randox Health to offer discounted home testing kits for £60.
Passengers will receive a unique code to access these discounts when they book through the easyJet.com and easyJet.com/holidays sites.
Wizz Air has partnered with Randox Health to offer tests for those wanting to travel, and those wishing to reduce their quarantine period upon their return at reduced prices.
Their at-home test costs £66, instead of the usual price tag of £110, with results emailed to you. Customers should order tests at least five days before their flight.
Day two and day eight testing for arrivals back to the UK is also available at a cost of £126, compared with the usual £175 fee using the Wizz Air discount.
Edinburgh Airport is offering drive-in and walk-in tests for customers. The screening site is located in the departures area of the airport terminal.
Lateral flow tests are available for £50 per person and should be booked prior to arrival. Results take approximately 20 minutes and will be sent via email. Customers are advised to leave plenty of time prior to their flight as they may have to queue during busy periods.
PCR tests cost £99 per person for the general public, £80 for airline passengers and £60 for Edinburgh Airport staff. Customers should book their test in advance. ExpressTest aims to deliver PCR test results by 10pm the following day, but results could take up to 48 hours to receive.
A drive-through testing centre is also available at Edinburgh airport, which is located in the ExpressTest drive-through centre located in the FastPark car park. Only PCR tests are available, costing £99 per person for the general public, £80 for airline passengers and £60 for Edinburgh Airport staff. Tests should be booked in advance.
ExpressTest aims to deliver PCR test results by 10pm the following day, but results could take up to 48 hours to receive. Those who screen negative will be emailed a Fit to Fly certificate that is authorised by a doctor, along with their test result.
Belfast International Airport
Belfast Airport offer pre-departure rapid PCR testing at the Maldron Hotel located at Belfast International Airport in conjunction with Randox. Tests cost £99, with results sent by email the following day. Tests should be booked in advance via the airport’s website.
The Sofitel at London Heathrow
The Sofitel at London Heathrow is selling “test and rest” stays for travellers, comprised of a night at the hotel, breakfast and a PCR test.
On arrival at the Terminal 5 hotel, guests take a self-administered test that requires them to spit in a tube. This is then couriered to a lab at Imperial College in London for processing overnight.
The testing programme is being delivered by biotech firm Halo, and guests must also download the Halo app when they check in.
The app is linked directly to their test, so their result and certificate appears in the app as soon as it’s ready. It means that, provided they don’t test positive for the virus, travellers can wake up ready to fly.
However, this test is a saliva-based test, whereas many destinations specify that the test has to be a nasal swab.
The package costs from just £179, including a double room on a B&B basis.