Travel

What’s the best way to get a Covid-19 test done before a flight?

Holidaymakers looking to get a last minute getaway in this year could be denied entry onto planes after not receiving Covid-19 test results back in time.

In one example, Christine, was due to travel to Tenerife with her sister-in-law, Caroline, from Leeds Bradford airport on Thursday 5 December with Jet2 for a short weekend break.

Both sent their PCR coronavirus tests – where you must swab both your nose and throat – to Living Care Group, a firm recommended by Jet2, posting them on Tuesday 1 December in time to meet the 72 hour deadline. 

A Jet2 customer missed her holiday after her Covid-19 test results didn’t come back in time

However, only Christine received hers back in time, leaving her to fly abroad alone with Caroline not receiving them until Saturday 7 December.

This meant there was little point travelling out as she would have to return the next day.

Caroline contacted Jet2 on the day she was unable to fly and it arranged to change her flights for the same time the following day. However, she couldn’t make that either. 

Living Care Group refunded the £75 cost of the test as it didn’t get the results to her in time, Jet2 have not refunded the money to her for the cost of the holiday which came to £400.

Christine claims: ‘We are not alone, there are hundreds of people this is happening to across Leeds, Manchester and East Midlands.’ 

When looking at reviews for Living Care Group on the NHS website, on Google and at comments on their Facebook page, many other people have reported similar issues.

Whilst it seems most are getting refunds for their tests that don’t come in time, it is the missed holiday and associated cost that is frustrating people.

Some have reported losing money in hotel and car parking fees whilst others said they have not been able to recopy money for their flights.

One of the reviews of Living Care Group on the NHS website said he hadn't received results

One of the reviews of Living Care Group on the NHS website said he hadn’t received results

Another said he could gave lost thousands of pounds as his test results didn't come in time

Another said he could gave lost thousands of pounds as his test results didn’t come in time

A Google review from a customer said she had her holiday cancelled due to the late return

A Google review from a customer said she had her holiday cancelled due to the late return

A spokesperson for Living Care Group said: ‘We are sorry for the frustration caused to the two customers in your email. We appreciate that there have been delays for a small group of passengers who have used us to undertake their testing.

‘We started testing individuals for travel in the last week of November and since then we have sent 9,457 people on holiday.’

It said that anyone who orders a test before 4pm will have their test dispatched the same day and if its ordered after this time it is dispatched the following day which has a 100 per cent success rate.

It added its lab have turned around all results within the following day of being received, recognising there are some spoiled tests where sufficient cells are not collected or where the instructions have not been followed in full.

Jet2 said customers can rebook flights for free if they have missed them due to a late test result

Jet2 said customers can rebook flights for free if they have missed them due to a late test result

However, the company says it is not its fault that some of the test results are not being received on time.  

The spokesperson added: ‘The key factor in delays has been our reliance on Royal Mail and the postal service. 

‘It has been well documented the significant pressure that Royal Mail staff are under and the delays that are happening within the mail system.

‘As a result we have set up drop boxes near all the airports that we are servicing including Leeds, Newcastle, Manchester, Hull and Nottingham. 

‘We will be adding Sheffield to this soon. Overall we have refunded or retested 628 orders since we have started.’

Many travellers are told they must now have a negative swab test before flying (stock image)

Many travellers are told they must now have a negative swab test before flying (stock image) 

It added: ‘We are here to enable individuals to go on holiday and we appreciate the frustration and anxiety that is caused when tests are not returned in time. 

‘This process has to be done within 72 hours from the swab being taken by the passenger to them arriving at their hotel.

‘This timeframe is not just a problem for Living Care but other providers have also struggled to meet this requirement for some passengers. 

‘We continually strive to increase the timeframe in which the passenger has so we can correct issues when things go wrong and reduce any impact on those travelling. Our team are continually working in order to limit any issues for passengers.’ 

It said that passengers that need a retest have been sent kits to the airports to enable a quick turnaround for the sample. 

Stansted Airport testing 

Stansted Airport has introduced a number of testing options at the airport itself with passengers able to take rapid tests. 

However, depending on where you are flying to will depend on what sort of test you need, for example, some countries only accept PCR tests (nasal and throat) whilst others will accept a rapid antigen test which can be taken just as a throat swab.  

This service is offered free of charge and passengers can also request a retest to their home or other location again free of charge.

If a passenger does not wish to use them for testing again, then a refund is offered with all being processed within five working days.

The Royal Mail has recently blamed delays on the ‘exceptionally high’ amount of post being sent this year.  

A spokesperson said: ‘Royal Mail works hard to deliver a high quality of service to its customers.

‘We have reached out to Living Care Group offering additional support to ensure they are using the service in the correct way to enable us to identify and process their items through our network.’ 

On Jet2’s website it says it offers its passengers a reduced Covid test for £75 if they book through one of their partners. 

A spokesperson for Jet2 said: ‘We are continuing to do everything we can to look after our customers, and we have worked hard to secure the option of discounted PCR (swab) COVID-19 tests through our partners.

‘Customers are responsible for arranging their own testing prior to travel. In the unlikely event that a test result arranged through one of our partners does not arrive in time for travel, we are allowing customers to amend their booking with no admin fee and we would have been happy to arrange this for Christine.’

All holidaymakers should check whether they need to be Covid tested or not before travelling as each country has different restrictions. 

Some will also require passengers to have isolated before arrival or on arrival.  

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