an airplane wing in the sky

Much like travel itself, the conversation of travel testing very much depends on who you ask, or rather – where you ask. Some countries are open and easy, others are closed and impossible, and the testing story is often similar.

To take the hassle and stress of figuring out who, when, what and where from vacations abroad, British Airways cleverly partnered with Qured, a testing solution which fulfills the UK’s requirement for a pre-flight test to enter the country.

The big headline is that you can take it with you before you go and get results from home, hotel, etc.

I’ve now taken the test with virtual supervision, and got my result back 25 minutes later without leaving the house. It was as stress free as I’d remotely hoped, and may just be the key to unlocking travel, at least for countries requiring a negative test result before flight.

a large airplane flying over a runway

Getting The Qured Test

In California where I’m currently looking at Palm Trees, testing is easy, abundant and free. Even PCR tests are largely free to anyone. But let’s put that aside, or at least on the back burner, because if I was coming from abroad I’d likely have no clue where to begin, and things would inevitably require a drive or walk to a location.

Many destinations, like remote islands, wouldn’t be the same either, and in reality, who wants to worry and waste time about finding a solution when you can leave home with one and not bother.

British Airways partnered with Qured to negotiate a discount for its customers on an easy testing solution you can take at home, which fulfills current entry requirements. The standard test costs £39 per person, or per test to the public, but through BA you can get it for £33. I’m sure others will follow.

The big x-factor here is that you can order the test before you travel, keep it in your bag and then schedule an online virtual appointment when you need to come home, to get the process completed. Yep, it’ll come right to your door before you even leave, which is cool. They keep, so you can order well in advance.

Yep, before you leave the UK, or any other country requiring a negative test for re-entry, you could purchase this test or a similar test, like Abbott in the USA, which fulfills that requirement, and never need to leave the house to get certified ‘fit to fly’.

Two days ago I went on the Qured website to book an easy online video appointment via Calendly, with pretty much full choice of time and day. As long as you actually take the test within the window specified by the country you’re trying to enter, it couldn’t be any simpler.

a test kit and syringe

I chose this morning, woke up, made coffee, turned the computer on, got the test kit out and then waited the brief few minutes for my turn. A lovely agent came on, very kindly walked me through the idiot proof test, a claim which I regularly test the limits of, and observed that it was me taking the sample. Also importantly, that I was doing it correctly.

The test is relatively orderly and hard to botch. You stick a swab to the back of your throat and in your nose, then combine it with some liquid and place it on a little box which gives a result.

I then waited 20 minutes, somewhat like a pregnancy test to watch the result appear before my eyes (in this case, thankfully one line, not two). Once the result was achieved I uploaded a photo of my test kit and my ID, along with the timestamp Qured captures to ensure legitimacy. 5 minutes later, I had a negative fit to fly certificate ready to roll.

Safe travel abroad, unlocked from “home”.

For the UK, the requirement is a negative result within 72 hours of travel. For the US, it’s a 3 day window without a specific time – as in if you travel Friday, a test on Tuesday or any day up to Friday would be ok. Even with just a couple days lead time, getting an appointment was incredibly easy.

I’ve gotta say, this ticks a lot of positive boxes.

a pool with palm trees and chairs

Sure, I could’ve walked or taken a car to a local CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aide or any of the other drug stores here in California offering robust testing, but in other countries that wouldn’t likely be the case. Even if it was, it’s also just nice not to need to figure all that stuff out. Travel is supposed to be fun.

Being able to wake up, look like a bum, swab the back of my throat and nose and receive a certificate ready in 25 minutes — all without leaving a hotel room or home — is a very reasonable ask to unlock safe travel. For me, it’s the most compelling feeling I’ve had that this can work.

As noted, the Qured test is available to the UK public regardless of airline you’re flying, in the US other options like Abbott exist with the same ‘virtual consult’ concept, but if you’re flying BA the discount is great.

This was low faff, low cost and borderline enjoyable.

Ok, scratch that. Tickling your own tonsils and sticking a swab up your nose isn’t a blast, but less than a minute of that all in, isn’t full torture. At £33 through BA, or £39 a pop this is an extremely smooth option for Brits aiming to go abroad, and really, a safe and sound way to help get travel moving responsibly again.

Of all the things I’ve tried this year in travel, this really seems like the option which gives the most confidence, since the many variables of test return times, locations and cost access are all sorted before you even depart.

You just need to not be a covidiot and avoid situations which may lead to another result. Well done BA, and well done Qured. And here’s to another negative test.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Just curious – which countries actually accept these tests in lieu of a PCR test? (Love the concept, but if it’s not a recognised test method it’s not helpful, yet?) Many thanks!

  2. Note that the Qured LFD test, the same one used to enter the UK, is accepted by the US authorities as a valid test for entry to the US. I have used it successfully in combination with Verifly for a recent US bound trip.

  3. Good work, Qured!
    Note that this is an “antigen” test and not a “molecular” , “PCR” ,or “LAMP” test. Check what kind of test your destination requires.

    1. @L Lau I think it’s likely to be a lateral flow test. Yes it’s an antigen test (“am I infected now”?) and not an antibody test (“have I been exposed in the past”?) but so are PCR, LAMP etc

  4. 39 per test times 2 every time you get on an airplane on a long trip is not an attractive solution. Especially when you already have taken the vaccine.

    1. Oh don’t get me wrong, I’d love to one day see a situation where it makes sense for all testing restrictions to default to pre-pandemic levels, but until that point, this is the best compromise I’ve seen.

  5. Do you know if this test works for the UK required days 3 & 8 test, plus test on day 5 to get released early from quarantine? I’m vaccinated and want to travel to the UK to visit my Goddaughter and friends in mid-May.

    1. @Gil, Unfortunately not. The UK has a list of test providers for the day 2/8 tests and “test to release” scheme. All of the providers are charging between 180 and 250 pounds for the kit, and the government requires you purchase only from a provider on their list. In my view that’s deeply unreasonable and unfair, and an unnecessary additional expense, but thats the way it is right now. So you’ll need a test to travel outbound, another test to travel inbound, plus the grossly over priced UK 2/8 day test kit (plus the optional test to release test)

  6. I ordered two of these tests for myself and my wife. Terrible customer service. My wife never received an email allowing her to book her virtual appointment and no one from their support team emailed us back. Very annoying when you are flying in two days and have to find another solution. I would not trust this firm (and there is no one to talk to on their telephone helpline).

    1. Hey Tom, I too never received the email, but a quick query to customer support got me a link to Calendly, where you can schedule both yours and hers. I used my email address, but different names for both and all was resolved in around 15 minutes with ample testing time choices. Hope that helps.

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