With many countries having recently abandoned pre-departure testing and the U.S. still holding on to it I found myself confronted with requiring another Antigen Test prior to my SFO-bound United flight and thankfully I still had two Abbot Binax NOW eMed Telehealth kits in my suitcase that I purchased last December.
The kit only cost me $35/piece when I bought the double package ahead of a cruise last December but I ended up not utilizing either one of them as I was next door to a Walgreen and got a free test there.
Getting an Antigen and especially PCR Test done is quite complicated and costly depending on where you are in the world and even in Seoul it isn’t easy to get one done, especially on a weekend.
I did my research in advance and figured out it would cost me at least 75,000 KRW ($60) to have such a test done in South Korea which is required to enter the U.S. and has to be taken one day prior to the flight.
Added to that, my departure was on a Monday so the only way to get this done is at the Incheon airport testing center which is expensive and it wasn’t exactly a comfortable experience upon arrival (very rough specimen collection methods).
Originally I didn’t plan to do anything with these test kits that I bought last December as they had officially expired in February but thankfully I didn’t discard them as the distributor’s website showed in March that the FDA has extended the shelf life of these tests for yet another three months. I also wrote to Abbott to check on my particular batch and it was confirmed. Perfect! I immediately put the two tests in my suitcase.
With the flight to San Francisco and my Alaska cruise leaving in the first week of May I’m able to make full use of the new expiration date which is May 8th. That was right on the line!
The morning on the day before my flight I prepared my computer and the test kit in the hotel room and dialed up the proctor through the app. I was connected immediately without any wait time.
The steps were:
- Creating an online account for the service
- Signing-in through the website and fill in personal details for this test
- Enter your current location (important for the correct time/date stamp)
- Dial in for the proctor – DO NOT OPEN THE PACKAGE BEFORE THE CALL (at least not visibly)
- Listen to the proctors instructions and administer the test on video
- Wait 15 Minutes for the result to be permanently visible on the card
- The app will prompt you to call the proctor back to verify the result
- Retrieve your test result via email/website
This is the test card:
The lab report arrived by email and it’s possible to download it with a QR code on the website as well.
I then uploaded the documentation together with my vaccine certificate to United Airlines Travel Ready Center:
This was all extremely pleasant and cost-effective. I was first suggested these tests by Celebrity Cruises in late 2021 and ordered a pack of two tests because… well you never know.
I needed one for my Caribbean Cruise that started on Christmas Day but since I was in Las Vegas and there was a Walgreens nearby that offered a free test. Back then I was more comfortable with the Walgreens option as it was available right there – and it was free.
Now that options were rather slim and expensive in Korea I decided the time for the take-at-home test has come and it was the best option ever. Super convenient and a proper protocol is available immediately.
The best: If you test positive you can’t be reported to local authorities such as a clinic/hospital would likely do it with all consequences involved depending on local regulations.
I used the BinaxNOW Telehealth test kit which I purchased in 2021 for the first time and it was an excellent experience. Make sure your internet connection is stable and the test kit is in proper condition and everything should be fine.
While this costs around $35-$40 depending on where you get the kit and how many you order (I got mine from Optum) it saves you the hassle of having to seek out a pharmacy/testing center which isn’t always easy and in the worst case can cost you a lot of money at that depending on where you are in the world.
I now have one test kit left that’s valid until May 8 and my cruise leaves a few days before that. Great timing and I can avoid having to go to a pharmacy which in many cases is drive-through service only.