Alan Shelton writes
When the resumption of the air bridge to the Canary Islands was announced last month I booked a two-week holiday to Lanzarote with Jet2 Holidays departing on Jan 3. But the islands recently announced that travellers from the UK are required to have undergone a Covid-19 PRC test within the 72 hours prior to arrival and to provide proof of a negative result.
My flight is scheduled to touch down at 14.20 on Jan 3, which is a Sunday. This means the earliest I can do the test is on Thursday afternoon: New Year’s Eve. The test must be sent to a lab for processing and it is my understanding that the labs do not work at weekends. What is my way forward?
Gill Charlton, consumer expert, replies
Jet2 Holidays seems to have dropped the ball on this one. When Mr Shelton phoned the company for advice it referred him to the Foreign Office’s travel advisory and said it was not prepared to make any recommendations for getting a test in case things did not go to plan. It did allow him to amend his booking to travel on Jan 10 – for a fee.
Contrast Jet2’s approach with that of Tui, through whom a friend of Mr Shelton is travelling. It sent a link to a page explaining how to get a Covid-19 test as well as a discount code, and allowed her to change her holiday in Lanzarote to depart Jan 10 without a fee.
Tui has done a deal with Randox (randoxhealth.com), which runs Britain’s largest coronavirus testing laboratories. The company told me that its labs operate seven days a week and will process tests over Christmas and New Year. Results are reported within 24 hours of receipt of the sample at its labs. However, it warns that there may be issues with the availability of couriers over the festive season and it is working on the issue. It also has clinics in London, Liverpool and Belfast. The PCR tests cost £120 (Tui customers get a £36 discount) whether couriered or in-clinic.
Several readers have reported delays in obtaining Covid-19 test results for travel after using private testing firms. This is usually due to couriers, who are taking two days to deliver some samples to the labs. This has led to missed flights. In such cases I would hope that airlines would allow customers to take the next available flight free of charge. The testing company has no liability other than to refund the test fee.
If you are concerned, try to visit a clinic. Vivo Clinics (0333 305 8486; vivoclinic.com) has testing centres in nine UK cities and a PCR test costs £149.