Trade leaders on the first flight from the UK to Portugal on Monday have warned fellow agents to be really clear on what the testing companies they are recommending to their clients are truly offering.
Speaking from the Algarve after flying with easyJet from Luton to Faro, Advantage Travel Partnership chief executive Julia Lo Bue-Said and member Jackie Steadman, owner of Travel Time World, said clarity on when and how tests will be delivered to clients and when and how results will be returned was critical.
“For any agent looking to get clients away [on holiday], there’s a whole variety of different test companies out there right now,” said Lo Bue-Said.
“It’s about being really, really clear about what they’re each offering. The price is one thing, but it’s about how they’re going to get the test back; guaranteed before your clients depart, that’s really important.”
Lo Bue-Said and Steadman had taken their PCR test at the local chemist before leaving the UK.
But they revealed that tests they were due to take with them to take before returning home had not arrived on time.
“Jackie had an issue with her test arriving,” revealed Lo Bue-Said. “Because her test hadn’t been received on time, the company ended up having to courier it over yesterday.
“It’s all those things that we’ve got to be really careful about.”
She added: “There’s quite a lot that you’ve got to think about before you even think about booking – particularly short breaks and particularly at the last minute – not withstanding making sure that you’re clear on what the requirements are for returning back into the UK and making sure that’s done within the right specified time as well.”
Steadman said her return test was being completed with a supplier that offered a video consultation to verify results.
“They send you the kit to take with you; you log into a video call at an allotted slot, you do the test in front of them; and they send you the result – the certificate – by email,” she explained.
Asked if it was sufficient to show the certificate on a phone, Steadman said it should be but urged agents to advise clients to print them out if possible in case something went wrong with their phones.
The pair will also need to show that they have a test pre-ordered for day two of their return, and Steadman added: “As a travel agent, I need to handhold and guide my clients through all these new procedures, so I needed to come out here and experience them for myself.”