blurred people in a modern hall

If you ask most people, air travel can be a bit of a pain. Queues to line up in, inevitable waits on one end or the other – it just seems to drag on. But news out of Dubai brings another pain point to travel, a literal one, and it may be spreading. Emirates is administering finger prick tests in support of virus suppression.

A growing number of countries are requiring advanced screening of passengers, ahead of flights. In short: you need to show a covid-19 test result to board a flight. No result, no flight. Emirates is the first airline to administer rapid covid-19 tests, with a simple finger prick, right in the airport.

The entire process, after a lengthy queue of course, takes about 10 minutes. If it’s the difference between travel and no travel, many will get on board.

Currently, these tests are only being administered on outbound flights from Dubai, but if results prove successful, expect to see more of them, in many more countries.

They could be the best interim solution to get people moving again safely from country to country, and restart the global economy. It just might be painful in the process.

Estimating just how long it will take for travel to recover is impossible given a variety of factors, but most airlines are hoping to resume at least some flying by summer. Even with such a rapid reboot, studies say passenger traffic won’t fully rebound to 2019 levels until 2023.

a escalator in a buildingMany nations are reluctant to reopen borders amid fears of a second wave, but an accepted global test with a subsequent certificate of health could be a driving force in reopening borders. Any sort of vaccine is said to be at least 12-18 months off, and most experts agree the world just can’t wait that long to return some form of normalcy.

About that pain…

Travel across borders is rarely seamless, with lengthy queues for check in, exit immigration in some instances and of course arrival immigration. Add in yet another hurdle, in the form of a medical exam line, and each and every journey will require even more lead time. For health, it’s a small price to pay, but to tempt the general public back into the skies, it may be a pain many refuse to endure.

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. @ Gilbert — People will stay home if this is the alternative, at least when it comes to holiday travel.

  2. How is this “painful,” when it’s the finger prick is about as same as a daily diabetes test?

      1. When an OCD become diabetic, there’s “never enough testing.”

        I’ll be happy when the Apple Watch does body temperature and non-invasive blood sugar monitoring, in addition to heart rate.

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