Agents report testing provider ‘headache’

Agents are reporting a “major headache” with private Covid-testing companies recommended by travel suppliers, claiming they have not been able to cope with the demand.

Tour operators including Tui, Jet2holidays and easyJet Holidays have agreed partnerships and deals with independent testing firms, often in return for discounts on services for customers who book package holidays.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, Tony Mann, managing director of Idle Travel in Bradford, said: “We’ve had a bit of a nightmare with people doing the postal tests. These private companies seem to have gone into meltdown.

“These companies have obviously done deals with some tour operators, so customers can get a discounted rate and they’ve not been able to cope.

“I’ve had people due to fly, and got their result the day after. So I’ve had to change their days of travel because the results haven’t come. They’ve got hold of the tests; they’ve sent them off; and then they’ve not heard from the company. I was here on Sunday, swapping people’s holidays who were due to go on Saturday that didn’t get off.”

Mann added: “These companies have obviously got involved with tour operators; they’ve been offered all this business; and they’ve not been able to cope with it. It’s a bit like a supermarket getting shocked when we all turn up for turkeys for Christmas, saying ‘Oh, I didn’t expect so many requests!’

“Obviously, they were going to get inundated and these testing companies and they’ve not been able to cope. So it’s another major headache to deal with. We’ve managed to get people away, but maybe not the days that they needed to go.”

Mann’s frustrations were echoed by posts on trade Facebook group Travel Gossip by agents having similar issues.

One agent posted: “Has anyone used ‘Confirm Testing’, a company recommended by Jet2 for home testing… client sent test off on Wednesday; they fly tomorrow at 10am but not had a result as yet. Should we be panicking?”

She later posted that the result had come through at 10.15am the morning her passengers were due to depart, but, due to the flight being delayed an hour until 11am, her clients were allowed to board at the last minute. “Happy ending, but stressful!” she said.

Another agent said: “Last Friday I was in bits awaiting customers’ tests. Two came back at 7am, one at 7.30am and the other one as the gate was shutting and she legged it for the flight.”

A third agent posted: “We had customers last weekend that didn’t get theirs back in time and couldn’t fly.”

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