The cost of Covid travel test packages has increased by nearly 50 per cent despite ministers pledging to drive down prices.
Analysis of the 50 cheapest firms on the Government-approved list shows the average price for a two-swab package has risen from £45 to £63 over a fortnight.
However, this is only the average price as stated on the Government’s website. When users click through to the companies’ websites, the actual average cost of a two-swab package is £121.
The average cost of a two-swab package listed on the Government portal is £171, while the average cost for a single kit is £100 (pictured: Friends Poppy, left, and Shannon, both aged 20 and from Glasgow, head towards the departure gate at Glasgow Airport after checking in for their flight to Ibiza, July 19)
The cheapest two-swab package was £120, but holidaymakers have to travel to Norwich for the deal
This is because many of the prices are wrongly listed, are out of stock or are only available to those willing to travel to one or two locations in the UK. These can be hundreds of miles away, making them impractical for many.
The Mail analysis shows how some firms listed on the portal draw in tourists by claiming to offer the lowest price for tests, but fail to include other costs in the advertised price.
Currently, unjabbed passengers arriving in England from amber countries must take a test before travel and book tests for days two and eight of a ten-day quarantine on arrival. If they are fully vaccinated, as of yesterday, they only have to do one post-arrival test and don’t have to quarantine. They must also take a pre-return test.
The Mail looked at firms recommended by the Government offering day two and day eight test kits.
Travel19 was listed as offering a two-swab home-testing package for £24.99. But when clicking to the company’s website, this price is only available to NHS nurses. The cost for most holidaymakers is in fact £149.99 – six times higher. Anglia DNA Services was yesterday listed as offering two-swab packages from £23.99. But there were no swabs available at this price yesterday.
The cheapest two-swab package was £120, but holidaymakers have to travel to Norwich for the deal.
The average cost of a two-swab package listed on the Government portal is £171, while the average cost for a single kit is £100. On this basis, a family of four faces a bill of at least £400 for post-arrival swabs. Hundreds more pounds could be added for pre-return tests and if the destination country requires a negative result on entry.
It comes after the Mail last week revealed how holidaymakers are facing a lottery when choosing tests from the Government-approved list – with many facing lengthy delays or not being able to reach the company on the phone number or email provided.
Avi Lasarow, boss of testing firm Project Screen by Prenetics, accused rival firms of trying to ‘game the system’, drawing people in with the offer of cheap tests that are difficult to get and then offering more expensive options.
‘They know once people get to their website, they’ll probably stay and pay more for the tests. The Government needs to do more to enforce higher standards of companies who go on their official list.’
Yesterday aviation minister Robert Courts was questioned about the testing system after an urgent question was tabled by Labour
Travel bosses and MPs last week called on Health Secretary Sajid Javid to lead a renewed push to drive down the cost of tests.
Yesterday aviation minister Robert Courts was questioned about the testing system after an urgent question was tabled by Labour.
He said ‘the cost of testing has been coming down’, adding: ‘The list of providers is continuously reviewed by the [health department] and they do have a rolling programme and do take action if providers are not delivering what they promised.’
The testing companies were contacted for comment.
Get us back on runway to let Global Britain finally take off, writes British Airways chairman SEAN DOYLE
The British public have abided by every rule imposed on them since the first lockdown back in March 2020. For the past 18 months, we have patiently waited for the freedom we were told a successful vaccination programme would bring.
A vaccination programme that turned out to be world-leading, protecting us all from serious illness and death. A vaccination programme that was hailed as an example for other countries to follow.
But no one is following us now. In fact, other countries are powering away. Over the past 18 months, tens of millions of us made sacrifices – agreeing to be separated from our loved ones, some of whom we would never see again.
British Airways CEO Sean Doyle speaks at a news conference at Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021
No wonder we’re all so confused by the constant changes in the Government’s approach. It feels like one set of rules apply in one area of life and another set of rules in another
My inbox remains full of emails from customers who still cannot travel to see their family and friends, take a holiday or do business because of the restrictions imposed on their freedom. All of our lives have been put on hold – lives, that, according to the Government’s Freedom Day, we should now be able to continue, sensibly assessing risk for ourselves.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly praised the UK’s vaccine rollout as an enabler for Global Britain – a way of putting the UK back on the map and taking economic advantage of the great progress we’ve made.
As Freedom Day approached, the Government indicated that it was up to us now to take personal responsibility for our actions, assessing the risk ourselves and acting sensibly. But the decisions in relation to travel are the exact opposite – the goalposts are constantly shifting, leaving none of us with the certainty we need to plan our lives and our businesses.
No wonder we’re all so confused by the constant changes in the Government’s approach. It feels like one set of rules apply in one area of life and another set of rules in another.
The vaccination programme should have given us the confidence to get back in the air, but we remain largely in a holding pattern thanks to the lack of transparency in decision-making.
Countries have been on the green list, off the green list, moved without notice to the amber list – and then, on Friday, another last-minute change saw France become the only country on the amber list to have to follow the original rules pre-July 19. Meanwhile, our European neighbours are way ahead.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly praised the UK’s vaccine rollout as an enabler for Global Britain – a way of putting the UK back on the map and taking economic advantage of the great progress we’ve made
Livelihoods depend on the travel industry which directly supports 1.5million British jobs and a much wider import and export industry – one the UK depends upon
Travel bookings in Germany are currently at 60 per cent of 2019 levels and in France 48 per cent. In the UK they are 16 per cent – the lowest of all the European markets.
FIgures like these show just how impossibly difficult our customers are finding the rapid and inexplicable changes in rules for travel.
The reality is that life is not returning to normal and our freedom to travel is curtailed. We have every reason to have faith in the vaccines’ ability to combat coronavirus variants. Scientists say the vaccine data is encouraging and they are able to prevent serious illness, hospitalisation and death against the South African Beta variant.
We and our customers deserve a transparent and consistent way forward to plan with certainty. If not now, when will individuals be trusted to take personal responsibility?
Livelihoods depend on the travel industry which directly supports 1.5million British jobs and a much wider import and export industry – one the UK depends upon.
Global Britain is stalling. If we want it to take off, get us on the runway.
Sean Doyle is chairman and chief executive of British Airways