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Covid-19 Tested Flights Expand

The CDC is expanding the range of Covid-19 tested flights. Starting on January 26th all air passengers entering the United States will have to provide a negative Covid-19 test. The test must be taken 3 days before entering the United States.

With the strain that seems to originate from the UK, currently, this regulation is in place for UK departing flights. By the end of the month it will expand to all international flights. At the end of 2020, I did an IGTV video on the new regulations being imposed by airlines like Delta and Alitalia for their “Covid-Free” / “Covid-Tested” flights.

In 2020 the tourism industry suffered severe losses. Even with the vaccine on the horizon, the industry is struggling with solutions to make people feel safer traveling. Airlines and tourism organizations say testing is the answer and are opening testing sites at airports — though, I found the testing site at terminal 5 JFK to be wildly expensive (over $300 for a rapid test). They are adding test results to passenger records and offering flights only for tested passengers. The World Travel and Tourism Council, along with business and airport groups called on governments to open borders with testing to reduce risk. This would be instead of waiting for vaccines to end the pandemic for borders to open.

They say it works. I recently took a Covid-tested flight from New York to Milan (layover and Covid test in Rome).

I took 3 tests in 24 hrs to return home to Italy and Michele safely. It was well-worth it. I felt safer on this flight than my flight this summer knowing everyone had been recently tested. The testing in-take in Rome was extremely efficient, taking no more than 40 minutes. They offered us coffee and panettone while we waited for our rapid tests! I wonder how this will look on a bigger scale but it was a start!

Someone can be exposed to the virus 2 days before their flight and become a carrier of COVID but their test will be negative immediately before the flight.

Though I felt safer on these flights than others assuming everyone quarantined and took their test in the same timeframe as I did, I haven’t let my guard down just yet. Speaking to a friend and health professional, Xiomara Fernandez, she reminded me

Those flights are not as safe as they seem. It can take 5-7 days before the virus is detected on a rapid RNA (NAAT) test or a rapid antigen test. So someone can be exposed to the virus 2 days before their flight and become a carrier of COVID but their test will be negative immediately before the flight. That same person is likely to become symptomatic around day 3-4 and test positive on day 5-7 (after exposure). These COVID tested flights are an illusion of safety but it’s not really safe.

Xiomara Fernandez

While I was feeling good and perhaps overly optimistic, she’s right. “Illusion of safety” hit me. After such a raggedy year, we were all jumping for joy at just the illusion. Here’s a video explaining how Covid-tested flights actually work and a peak into mine.

I like being a bit of a guinea pig for you guys. So, now that you’ve seen a glimpse into my experience with Covid-Tested flights, is it something you’d be open to? 

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