How a false positive can affect your travel

25 April 2022  |  Travel News

Had COVID recently? Have you thought about how a false positive may impact your travel plans? 

The UK Government say that you’re unlikely to be infectious after the 5th day of COVID-19, although it’s common to test positive for months even after you have recovered. Read current advice here.

After recently recovering from COVID myself and with a trip abroad on the horizon, I started to think a bit more about the dangers of a false positive.

Furthermore, airlines are re-evaluating their flexible flight policies and major airlines have reinstated change fees. For example, Emirates now charges £300 to make alterations to your ticket. Credit vouchers for previous cancelled flights are also due to expire in the Autumn.

What causes a false positive? 

I’m no scientist here but… according to a paper published by Rudolf Jaenisch, patients often remain positive for viral RNA as detected by PCR many weeks after the initial infection due to reverse transcription. This is a process where genetic sequences from the RNA virus SARS-CoV-2 can integrate into the genome of the host cell.

As PCR tests are a requirement for travel, the risk of getting a false positive makes it pretty stressful when planning your trip, especially if you’re not travelling alone. For families the risk may be too high as it’s less likely a family would want to continue their trip with one member down. However businesses are more likely to travel individually, decreasing the risk slightly. 

How to prepare for a false positive

Tip 1. Recovery of COVID certificate 

There are about thirty countries that will now accept a recovery of COVID certification as an alternative to a negative PCR. 

To get your NHS COVID Pass you do this digitally through the NHS App or online via NHS.UK. You must make sure that your first name and your surname on your passport match your NHS COVID Pass.

The NHS COVID Pass should include proof of recovery from prior COVID-19 infection. You can download your pass as a PDF, or store a version in your Google Pay wallet or Apple Wallet. If you require a physical copy you can order a NHS COVID Pass letter via 119 or To learn more about the NHS COVID Pass and to see this list of countries that currently accept the certificate, please have a look here.

According to Mayfield Clinic, most countries allow you to use this method of proof from the eighth day of testing positive, however for travel to Australia and Austria you will only be able to access the service on day fifteen. 

Some countries will only accept a PCR, such as Dubia. Also, some countries require you to have had your booster; such as France, Maui, United Arab Emirates, and The Netherlands. So do check the guidelines of the country you’re travelling to, or ask your TMC for advice. 

Tip 2. Book with a human

Obviously I’m going to be a little biased here, but booking with a human travel manager really does provide you with that additional support. They know which airlines are flexible, what routes are open and they are there to give you accurate and relevant COVID information as well as much needed protection.  

In an industry that’s still a little unpredictable, a TMC has the critical role of navigating this ever-changing datascape, to make your travel experience as seamless and hassle free as possible. Travel managers are the first to hear of new rules and restrictions, and can therefore manage these changes quicker than you. 

Right now my goal is to keep all my clients safe, informed and supported throughout their entire trip.

There’s no such thing as a problem, only a solution, however complications can arise, we’re all human after all. For example I had a client who’s name on their COVID travel documents didn’t match their passports. But because he could talk to an industry expert at that exact moment, whilst standing at check in, it allowed that problem to be resolved quickly, which meant they could continue their journey. 

A travel manager can also support you in putting a comprehensive business travel policy in place to ensure you and your business is protected and safe. 

Similarly if you’re traveling for leisure, the advice from the BBC is to book through a human agent which will provide you with expertise and protection to ensure you don’t miss any regulation changes.

Tip 3. Check in after you’ve received your negative test result 

My top tip is to check in once you’ve got all your paperwork including your negative test. 

There’s a lot less flexibility once you’ve checked in. Things can be moved around however it’s much less likely that you’ll be able to get your money back. This is because the airport has control of your ticket from when you check in to when that flight departs. And you or your travel manager has a lot less control once this happens. 

For some reason many of us check in as soon as we can, but try to resist the urge until you have all the relevant paperwork. 

Tips like this are exactly the kind of benefit you’d get from working with a Travel Manager. 

Tip 4. Have a plan B

It’s important to have a plan B just in case you are unfortunate enough to incur a false positive. 

  • Prepare for your meeting to be virtual 
  • Are the participants aware it could become a hybrid meeting?
  • Have you budgeted for the loss of this flight?
  • How can your company support that individual? 

Unfortunately it’s potluck if you are going to test negative, but you can be aware and prepare. 

I hope I’ve given you some tips and things to think about. As always, if you have any questions, drop us a message. As you know, guidelines are forever changing, for up to date travel advice visit the government website and seek advice from your TMC and airline. 

Thank you for reading,

India | Marketing Executive | echo.bravo