The first transatlantic flight to require passengers and crew members to take a mandatory Covid-19 test before boarding arrived at Heathrow airport earlier this week.
It was the first in a series of flights requiring anyone over the age of two to take a free test in order to board the plane. Only one of the 37 passengers booked on the flight tested positive for Covid-19, and they were required to rebook their trip at a later date, completely free of charge.
While a negative result makes no difference to the current 14-day quarantine requirement in the UK, the ‘test before you board’ system could be an indication of what the future of travel may look like.
In fact, British Airways is already launching a voluntary testing regime for passengers travelling to Heathrow from Dallas Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and New York John F. Kennedy in a bid to persuade the both US and UK governments that testing will make the need for quarantining unnecessary.
The British Airways scheme requires customers to be tested 72 hours before their trip, as well as during and after travelling. However, some tests, such as the nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) used on the initial transatlantic flight, can provide results as quickly as ten minutes. Although, the NAAT assessments are not believed to be as reliable as the PCR test used by the NHS.
While both Covid-19 tests used in these trials are currently free, the question is, will they remain free of charge if they become part of the holiday experience? Or will passengers be required to pay £150 for a PCR test as they are at the moment?
Right now, we’re not exactly sure of what the travel landscape will look like in the coming months, but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as we do.
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