The Covid-19 "Fit to Fly" Swindle

Updated: Jun 2, 2021

The UK has opened up travel with this traffic light system. We can all holiday again – hoorah!

Before we get into the big swindle, let’s talk swindle number one. Not every country on our “Green List” is even letting people travel from the UK. Australia and New Zealand are basically an inverted Alcatraz, so putting them on our list and declaring there are eleven countries we can travel to is a bit of a fallacy.

The Covid-19 testing to travel – swindle number two

Being somebody who works in Care and has worked very hard the last 14 months or so, I saw these borders opening up and thought “it’s time.” Time to think of me, time to take some R & R, and turn that phone off for a few days.

Return flights from Newquay to Faro, Portugal - £40 yes please, two. Hotel for four nights - £192 “well fuck me, this is cheap!” I decided to be compulsive, spur of the moment, spontaneous! Everything that usually fills me with anxiety but all I was thinking was… “Screw it, it’s been a year and two cancelled trips to Australia – you can’t take Portugal away from me.”

Booked it, packed it, fuck…oh wait – what’s this – I have to present a “Fit to Fly” certificate. Cool. No worries, I test three times per week in my job, one PCR and two LFDs. Pretty awesome that Care Workers and NHS staff will be able to use these.

But wait…

Your proof of a negative test has to come from a private provider… many of which are beneficiaries of Conservative’s power. It’s a little bit like the PPE scandal that nobody seems that bothered about.

I get it, we can’t have swathes of people faking symptoms to get a free test and use it as evidence for these Brits Abroad holidays, I get that, I 100% get that. However, NHS staff, Care Workers and other key workers have worked tirelessly this past year to keep the country going and we HAVE to test twice per week EVERY WEEK to meet government legislation. Wouldn’t a fantastic way to say thank you to all these people be to say “yes, you can use your tests along with a form of work identification and thank you for your hard work.”

But no, it’s just that one-minute round of applause and pan-banging at 7pm every Thursday that petered off after a few weeks.

What else?

So we’ve got to do a PCR test before we go. Price wise you’re looking at £55 onwards but some companies are charging triple that – why is that ok? On top of this, you need to do a test before you come back to the UK. This can be the cheaper LFD which you can do in your hotel from £19ish but most companies are charging double that. Oh and one company was charging £19 plus £19.99 delivery and you can only order one at a time, family of five – that’ll be £100 postage.

All done? Nope. There’s also a Day Two test for Green List countries and a Day Two and Day Eight test for Amber countries. This is the costly one where you have to test once back home. I managed to find one for £50, however a lot of companies are charging at least double. I didn’t look at Day Two and Day Eight prices but I think I may have seen some from £80 - £160.

The funny thing is, I will be testing for my job when I return and LFD’s are so surplus in requirements here they are literally being given away. But if you want to travel – it has to be done through a government-approved private company. They are probably just repackaged Care Home ones.

A photo of me sleeping easy - something I won't be doing after paying all this money for tests.

So what could cost nothing for NHS, Care Workers, and some Key Workers that have to test, with the exact same mitigation measures, is going to cost people at least £150 and even then some circumstances dictate if you can go for the cheapest, for example, location. I managed to find all three tests for £160.

Some travel companies are offering discount codes, however from a cursory look they are offering them on the Randox (a testing manufacturer) website which offer an “Algarve” pack of the same three tests I purchased for £300. So then you need at least 50% off to make it worthwhile.

To close this article, I’m going to quote a friend who summed it all up perfectly, concisely and correctly… “But we’ll do it, won’t we!” I have done it, you will do it and everybody else will and most won’t shop around and they’ll pay too much.

They haven’t opened borders for travel, they’ve monetised them, and it’s working.