Travelling abroad from the UK on holiday is currently illegal - but it won't be forever.
As the vaccine rollout progresses at a pace, the possibility of recreational international travel gradually gets closer.
But pandemic restrictions mean that many countries are asking travellers to submit a negative Covid-19 PCR test result upon entry, taken within a certain timeframe beforehand.
UK travellers are not permitted to use the free NHS testing service and must instead go through a private firm to obtain their result. Typically these tests aren’t cheap, costing around £150.
However, some enterprising travel companies are attempting to entice Brits with subsidised or discounted tests, making the whole process that bit more affordable.
Here’s where to find a test that’s cheaper than the standard rate.
British Airways is offering discounted rates with Government-approved Covid-19 testing providers.
Qured will deliver rapid, professionally administered antigen test kits to British Airways customers at an exclusive discounted price of £33.
The test kits can be taken abroad and used anywhere in the world and, following a video consultation with a health advisor, results are available in 20 minutes.
Designed to be portable, customers can take the kits with them abroad, in preparation for their return journey to the UK (all arrivals must currently present evidence of a negative test taken within 72 hour of departure).
For outbound testing, British Airways customers also have access to preferential rates with multiple Covid-19 testing providers offering a range of PCR, lamp, antibody and antigen testing options, depending on the requirements of the country their heading to.
Before they travel, customers flying on selected routes can also upload their Covid-19 test results to an app called VeriFLY – a mobile travel health passport currently being trialled – to certify their test certificates.
The low-cost airline announced that it had partnered with Confirm Testing to offer passengers a discount on rapid Covid-19 tests and certificates.
UK customers requiring negative PCR test results to travel or wanting to reduce their quarantine period upon return can access a promotion code in order to buy Confirm Testing kits at reduced prices.
The “Fit to Fly” package, which includes a PCR swab test and certificate, will be available to Wizz Air customers for £85 instead of the usual price tag of over £110. Test kits will include a collection bottle containing saline and a swab, protective packing wallet, a clear specimen bag to seal the sample, sample label, request form, and a return envelope with prepaid shipping.
For customers requiring a negative test result 72 and 96 hours before travelling, kits can be ordered weeks in advance of a flight and kept at home. Customers should order tests at least five days before their flight and then perform and return the test via Royal Mail four days before.
Gatwick has converted its Long Stay Car Park at the South Terminal into a Covid-19 screening centre to offer fast, accurate and lab-analysed PCR swab tests.
The service is available for passengers, employees based at Gatwick and the general public, including local residents.
As well as providing travellers with a negative test result certification before they fly, the facility could, with any necessary amendments, satisfy requirements of the Government’s “test and release” post-arrival scheme, allowing air passengers to reduce the quarantine time required after travelling back from certain destinations.
Air passengers and employees based at Gatwick Airport will be charged a subsidised rate of £60 to use the screening service, while the general public will be able to use it for £99. A group discount is also offered, with up to 30 per cent off for groups of four or more for those who are having the full priced test.
However, passengers should note they can’t simply take the test on the day of their flight – they’re advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their departure time.
Edinburgh Airport has announced a similar express test scheme for passengers. The screening point is located in front of the terminal in the FastPark area of the car park.
Launched on 25 November, the service is available for passengers, staff and members of the public, offering swab PCR tests at a discounted rate.
Passengers and staff will be charged at a subsidised rate of £80 and £60 respectively; the general public will pay £99.
Test results will be emailed or texted to customers, usually a day later, and passengers are advised to schedule a test 48-96 hours prior to their flight time.
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.
The package costs from just £179, including a double room, B&B.
Belfast Airport has launched a new walk in testing facility for those that need a rapid PCR test before essential travel. Passengers can receive their results next day, allowing them to travel by meeting the requirement stipulated by many destinations that travellers must present a negative test result.
The Covid-19 test is available to book now via the airport’s website and passengers will be able to attend a Randox testing facility at the airport or at a Randox Health Clinic in either Crumlin or Holywood. Tests cost £99.
The UK’s biggest budget airline has launched lab partnerships to offer passengers reduced-price testing. The two partners are Confirm Testing and City Doc, and customers can choose between an at-home testing kit or a walk-in test at a clinic.
Both labs offer home testing kits, with Confirm using Royal Mail priority post boxes and City Doc using a courier service. City Doc also offers in-person testing.
EasyJet passengers can book the Confirm test for £75 compared to the retail price of £119. For City Doc, the home test will cost travellers £100 compared to the usual £185, while an in-clinic test is priced at £150, rather than £200.
Passengers will receive a unique code to access these discounts when they book through the easyJet.com and easyJet.com/holidays sites.
The UK’s biggest tour operator has partnered with Randox to offer its customers a discount on at-home PCR testing kits.
Kits are sent out by Randox for next-day delivery to customers’ homes – as long as they order by 12pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays (although they’re advised to allow two working days).
The kits are usually priced at £120, but Tui customers can get 30 per cent off by using a special discount code, bringing the price down to £84.
A&K and Cox & Kings
Luxury travel companies Abercrombie & Kent and Cox & Kings have announced they’re further incentivising booking by contributing £50pp for Covid-19 tests for all guests with holidays booked in 2021 where needed.
The pair have also introduced a new ultra-flexible rebooking policy that allows all new bookings made up to 28 February 2021 for travel before 30 November 2021 to be changed or postponed, for any Covid-related reason, up to 15 days before guests’ travel dates.