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Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:27 am

Timing on when to take the Covid PCR test before US Departure

Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:26 pm

I may need to travel from Cleveland (CLE) to Europe. The destination requires "a negative PCR test within 72 hours of departure." Clearly even if I get the results after departing CLE before arriving, the results must be negative, meaning I need the results before departure. The offerings for the test at CLE are:

Rapid PCR Test (30 minutes) $275
Standard PCR Test (24-72 hours) $135
( ... ckl-health)

does this mean I must do the rapid test (for $140 more)? because the standard one--if the results arrive in 72 hours--won't be good anymore if I need to get the results and then depart. Example:

Depart CLE on Thursday at 1400. If I take the test at Monday at 14:01--I'm within 72 hrs of departure, but I may not get the results until 13:59 on Thursday, meaning I'd have to already be on the plane for a 1400 departure. I can't take the test any earlier--because it must be within 72 hrs. If I take it any later, I miss getting the results before departure; if I take the test much later, like 48 hrs before departure on Tues at 1401, I may not get the results before I land in Europe.

Has anyone gone through this issue? Advice welcome and appreciated.
Posts: 352
Joined: Fri Apr 19, 2013 2:38 am

Re: Timing on when to take the Covid PCR test before US Departure

Sat Jun 12, 2021 9:45 pm

I ran into this about 6 weeks ago for my flight to Maui. Hawaii wanted a PCR test done 72 hours before departure from US mainland, but the closest clinic on Hawaii's pre-approval list said it may take up to 72 hours to process. My local clinic was also only doing PCR tests at certain times of the day, so the best I could do was 52 hours in advance of my trip. I rolled the dice, and it ended up working fine. I had my results posted in 17 hours.

In my case, I had a smoking deal on an award ticket with Delta, so if I ended up having to take the next flight or cancelling, it wasn't that big a deal to me. I was willing to role the dice, and it all worked out.

Personally, I think you'll be fine with the Standard test, but if you've got a lot of money invested in this trip, then it might be worth it to spend the extra $140 for the peace of mind.

Just my $.02.
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Re: Timing on when to take the Covid PCR test before US Departure

Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:53 am

Be aware that the 72h ahead is good, but the moment you get disrupted, a flight gets delayed, cancelled etc you can be denied uplift on the recovery flight if your test is over 72h old, so I recommend doing between 24 and 48h ahead to keep you current even with a 24h delay. In my experience in airline ops, there have been a number of people affected by this. You may want tp consider this when deciding if the more money is worth it or not.
Topic Author
Posts: 1587
Joined: Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:27 am

Re: Timing on when to take the Covid PCR test before US Departure

Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:39 pm

flyinggoat and aerorobnz -- thanks for the inputs! I may indeed have to splurge for the 2x rate just to be on the safe side. Of course, I think I'll have to have a second PCR test on the return to re-enter the US....
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Re: Timing on when to take the Covid PCR test before US Departure

Mon Jun 14, 2021 5:16 pm

I just went to Puerto Rico last month and didn’t realize there were two types of tests and I needed the PCR test to enter on arrival at SJU airport, not the rapid antigen test. Didn’t realize this until a few days before I left because I was ignorant and didn’t do my research, I thought I could just get one of the rapid tests at Walgreens, as I thought there was only one type of test.

Problem for me was I needed a negative PCR test within 48 hours of my departure on a Monday morning. Meaning I had to do it no sooner than Saturday, However, processing time was up to two business days and I had a hell of a time finding a clinic that could test me Saturday and get me results back by 6am Monday because labs were closed on weekends, or they had reduced hours and they couldnt promise I’d get results back before Tuesday because two business days was required.

I finally found a clinic that used a private lab open on weekends instead of the state lab most places were sending test samples. They got me tested Saturday morning with results on Sunday morning, But I had to pay over $250 each for my GF and I.

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