British Airways Explores Optional Pre-Flight COVID-19 Tests

British Airways is exploring the possibility of launching a pre-flight COVID-19 testing service. The airline is looking to roll out the voluntary service to help passengers who may be traveling to destinations where testing is mandatory, such as the United Arab Emirates.

British Airways, COVID-19, Testing
British Airways is looking into the possibility of offering COVID-19 tests before travel. Photo: British Airways

Around the world, countries are looking into COVID-19 testing as a solution to enable risk-free travel. The UAE was an early adopter of such policies, along with countries like Hong Kong. However, now countries such as Germany will offer a free COVID-19 test for all international arrivals. In the UK, access to testing has until now not been the most straightforward process.

Boots partnership

As spotted by God Save The Points, British Airways is looking to launch an optional COVID-19 testing service for travelers. The facility would be offered in conjunction with Boots, the UK’s most well known high street healthcare and pharmacy brand.

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It seems as though the service would optionally allow passengers to see whether they were infected with COVID-19 before traveling. The airline told Simple Flying:

British Airways is not making pre-flight testing mandatory for all customers. ​ We are currently discussing the possibility of helping our customers access pre-flight testing through third parties if their destination requires this, however no plans have been finalised. We will share more in due course. We are doing everything we can to make travel as safe and stress-free as possible for our customers in these unprecedented times.

British Airways, COVID-19, Testing
Lufthansa was the first airline to open an airport COVID-19 testing center. Photo: Centogene

How does this compare to other airlines?

Lufthansa was the first airline to offer optional COVID-19 testing for passengers. In conjunction with Centogene, the airline opened a testing center at Frankfurt Airport open to all travelers and local residents. When Simple Flying caught up with Lufthansa last month, 40,000 passengers had been tested in the center’s first week.

Since then, the German government has made testing upon arrival mandatory for all passengers from a high-risk country. This test is free to the traveler, as the German government bears the cost. Additionally, passengers from low-risk countries can take a free test within 72-hours of returning to the country.

The UAE airlines have taken a slightly different approach to Lufthansa. Both Emirates and Etihad require every passenger to have undertaken a COVID-19 test before their flight. As such, Emirates has launched a guarantee that it will bear medical and funeral costs if a passenger catches COVID-19 while traveling.

Emirates issues covid-19 blood tests
Emirates previously trialed testing whole planes for COVID-19 before specific flights. Photo: Emirates

Testing in the United Kingdom

So far, testing in the United Kingdom for travelers is up to an individual, with a private test needing to be purchased. Heathrow Airport’s CEO has been very vocal about implementing testing for arrivals.

London’s busiest airport can set up a testing center for Terminal 2 arrivals. However, currently, no such initiative has been launched, as the United Kingdom’s government is not willing to allow passengers to sidestep quarantine with a negative test.

Would you take an optional COVID-19 test before flying? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!