Greece has opened for arrivals from many countries, and they have pretty efficient Covid-19 PCR-RT and antigen testing labs available in some airports.
I flew in and out of Athens a couple of times in the past two weeks and decided to test how efficient the rapid testing is on my way to Madrid that required a test not performed more than 48 hours of arrival.
I was traveling with friends, and when we arrived from Corfu around 9:30 PM, she decided to do the rapid test at that time because it still would be within 48 hours before her return to the United States on Saturday.
My friend had made the payment in advance, but there was only one line open at that hour that handled both walk-ins and those who had their papers ready.
She was through within 20 minutes but was asked to wait for another 20 for the results that they would stamp on her receipt.
This wait is not actually required (I later found out) because they send you the results by email that you can open using a code on your paper.
The process in the evening was very smooth and civilized.
Testing on Sunday Afternoon
The situation on Sunday couldn’t have been more different. There were more people on the line than it could handle. A perfect condition to spread the covid-19 around.
The line for people without a prepayment was really long, but now the windows (two) for those who had everything in order was short (the most right).
I decided to register and pay online, which ended up taking 35 minutes. I could not fulfill the form using Chrome on my Android because the dropdown menu for the test type didn’t work. I tried four times.
I then tried Firefox. Everything worked well until the payment. Then, it asked for a three-digit security number for my Amex (it has four) and wouldn’t allow me to proceed. So I had to start again, and it used working a visa.
Note that the website was extremely slow both on WiFi and mobile data. Perhaps too many simultaneous users.
I was able to go through the registration window efficiently, and I was then asked to sign a couple of documents.
The testing itself was efficient, and I was promised the results in 20 minutes by email.
While waiting for the results, I decided to go to the departures and have a look at the PCR-RT testing:
The line on the departures (in front of gate 150-155) was short, but it takes up to 24 hours to get the results. It has two lines; one for those with nothing ready and another for those who had already registered and paid for the test.
The results came by email in a password-protected PDF. The code to open the PDF is included on the test form that the registration window gives you.
Here’s the information that Athens Airport has about the tests up on its website:
kindly be advised of the availability to perform diagnostic test for SARS-COV-2 (Covid-19) at Athens airport, using both methods, Molecular & Rapid Antigen test, at the specially configured testing points of Athens Medical Center:
- Molecular tests for Covid-19 (PCR) are conducted daily between 07:00 & 23:00 at the specially configured testing point of Athens Medical Center located on the departures level, across check-in counter 150. After 23:00 & until 07:00 the tests are conducted at the testing point on the arrivals level.
- RAPID Antigen tests for Covid-19 are conducted daily on a 24 hour basis at the specially configured testing point of Athens Medical Center on the “Arrivals” level, between exits 2 and 3.
You may proceed for testing without an appointment.
Due to increased attendance, longer waiting times might be expected thus, passengers are kindly requested to timely attend the testing point at the airport for their molecular (PCR) or Rapid-antigen test. As far as Rapid tests are concerned, it is highly recommended to plan for at least 3 hours available time prior to your departure.
Payment options available at the testing points include the use of POS machine accepting debit / credit card or cash.
Registration & payment procedure for the Molecular(PCR) test can be also accomplished electronically through the platform https://payments.iatriko.gr/. Details and important information are included in the section “Frequently Asked Questions” of the platform.
Test results for molecular (PCR) test will be delivered to you, by email, within approximately 24 hours. Response time varies according to sampling time or volume of tests.
Test results for rapid (Antigen) test are available by email ,15-20 minutes after completion of sampling. For any further information, please contact Athens Medical Center representatives at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your stay in Athens is very short, I would advise you to do the PCR-RT or rapid antigen test upon arrival or give at least two hours to go through the process upon leaving the country.
I was out in an hour, although the situation looked far worse when I got to the airport around 1 PM in the afternoon.
The prices that Athens Medical Group charges for these tests are very reasonable. I am not sure what testing options exist and at what price in the Athens city center.