A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a question about what options exist if you test positive for Covid-19 before your return flight back home.
Here’s the question from the reader:
Hi John, just curious as to your thoughts regarding what contingency plans should be considered if we travel to the UK and then test positive 72 hours before boarding the homeward flight.
In the UK you have to self-isolate, so if we get tested the day before we’ll need to alert the hotel … who may not want to offer us self-isolation, are there UK Government designated Self Isolation hotels?
If we get tested hours before flying, then we’ve already checked out and need to urgently find a Heathrow hotel to self-isolate. I’ve reached out to Marriott Ambassador team for a response, but wondered if you had any ideas.
The reader’s question doesn’t only apply to the UK, but to many others too, depending with whom you fly with or what the departure, transit, or your home countries require.
There is also a problem with how long you would keep testing positive, using the PCR-RT after being no longer contagious. My two tests late last year came back as positive more than six weeks after I had Covid-19. Some countries allow you to travel with a positive Covid-19 test if a certain number of days have passed since the test recognizing the issue, but some don’t.
Where to stay?
I would ask for the hotel that you are staying at for guidance. There are hotels near Heathrow that are used to quarantine travelers coming from countries designated as RED.
If the stay needs to be extended by 10+ days, I probably would look for an Airbnb or other extended stay options with properly sized accommodation. I would go nuts if I needed to stay in a standard hotel room for 10 nights.
Some countries may require you to be moved to special “hotels” that have been turned to house positive Covid-19 cases.
Some hotels offer free Covid-19 tests depending on the stay length and sell “guarantees” for a fee if it turns out that you test positive.
I witnessed this earlier this year when I was staying at the Thompson Zihuatanejo in Mexico. When I was checking out, I wondered what was going on in the lobby and asked.
There was an American couple, and one of them had tested positive. They were scheduled to fly out, and obviously, the plans changed. I am not sure what they ended up doing, where, at what price, and for how long.
There must be more incidents such as this popping up more often in the near term when more vaccinated people travel and end up having an asymptomatic Delta variant of Covid-19 caught at the pre-departure test.
Airlines are NOT required to rebook your flights if you don’t show up, although many offer flexible change and cancellation options right now. Hotels are also not required to house you for free for two weeks, which can get pricey at places such as the Maldives or Bora Bora. You can quickly rack up a bill to the tune of $20K in two weeks for the accommodation alone.
Some countries, such as Thailand, will put your entire party into Covid-19 wards that they call hospitels if one in your party tests positive. These are at your expense.
It is a very challenging time to travel with the ever-changing testing, transit, and entry rules + additional expenses and delays if you or someone in your party tests positive.