Just in time for the Christmas and New Year departures, and before the effective ban on UK nationals travelling the world, Heathrow has started offering testing for COVID on a commercial basis to passengers. The offer initially was only for a few airlines and specific destinations, but it now is open to anyone who needs a test and can afford the fee.
Testing options are both within the Terminals that remain open, and also in a car park near Compass House on the Bath Road to the north of the airfield. You can book via the Heathrow Airport web site.
There are a variety of tests offered, and it is best to check what your destination requires. They offer departure tests and arrivals tests, for those who wish to release from quarantine after 5 days and a successful negative test on entering the UK.
Of course, if you live in a Tier 4 area you should only be travelling for business or in a limited number of other circumstances.
- PCR tests are £99, or £80 if you choose the car park option.
- LAMP tests are £79
- Rapid Antigen are £50
- Antibody tests are £40
You have to register and book an appointment via the web site once you create a profile.
What’s the experience like?
I made a booking the day before and received an email confirmation almost immediately. The email confirms that you have to bring your confirmation, passport and airline booking to the test centre.
At Terminal 5 the centre is under the First Wing, or at the south of the terminal, on the arrivals level. The queue was long – 20 to 30 socially distanced people and the staff were not letting you join the queue until the start of the slot.
My queue featured Mrs Angry who was annoyed that she had come early and been told she had to wait. She was instructing people on how to wear their masks correctly, which offered to pass the 20 minute wait to be seen by the Receptionist. Here was I was asked for the email I had booked with (not the reference), passport and payment. They confirmed the test and I went to a shorter line to be tested.
The woman undertaking the test was lovely, checked that I had undertaken one before and was incredibly gentle whilst she stuck the swap up each nostril. Her distraction technique of chatting with me worked and I was done in no time.
How soon do you know the outcome?
- PCR is within 48 hours in the terminal or next day in the car park
- LAMP is within 90 minutes
- Rapid Antigen are 45 minutes
- Antibody tests are 45 minutes
How do you get the results?
There is a separate desk where you can collect a paper copy of the report. I accepted my LAMP test result via email as I just needed to know the outcome. It was negative.
How was the experience?
Pretty good and less pricy than some of the tests I have seen at clinics in London. The staff are friendly and the results came after about an hour, so a little faster than promised. (The timings shown above are wrong as the 1445 time was the end of my appointment slot, rather than when I was seen.)
Lastly, just to say that you don’t earn Heathrow Rewards (BAA’s shopping points scheme) on the test.