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FYI : Recent Travel to Italy

Our experiences related to COVID-19 when travelling in Italy the last two weeks (flew into Rome and drove around Umbria & Tuscany):

  1. We were flying United and used their Trust Assurance integration to schedule a PCR test with Quest. We scheduled the tests to be performed 72 hours ahead of our flight. I received my results in 48 hours. My wife had not received her results by then, so I contacted Trust Assurance per United; they were of no help and directed me to Quest (even though payment goes through Trust Assurance). I called Quest at 8:00 AM ET and told them we needed results by 2:00 PM at the latest. We weren't sure if we would get her results in time, so my wife took an Abbot self-test with an emed proctor and we used these results instead of Quest. Both my Quest PCR and her Abbot antigen test were acceptable for travel into Italy. (We received her Quest results at 1:30 PM.). It would have been easier and less expensive for us both to just use the self-test with an emed proctor.
  2. We had to show our CDC vaccine card whenever we entered a museum, restaurant, bar, etc. And of course wear a mask. Many people were also wearing masks outside, especially in crowded areas.
  3. We took an Abbot self-test with emed proctor before flying home. Performed the tests at 10:00 AM Italy time. No issues getting a proctor on the call.
  4. There are walk in antigen tests readily available at pharmacies in Florence and Rome with results given in ~30 minutes. Didn't pay attention in the other smaller towns we visited so I am not sure if they were also available there.

All-in-all, except for Quest's delay in providing test results for my wife, there weren't any issues. Biggest deal was not being able to talk to each other easily during our flights.

Posted by
14278 posts

Good to know about your issues with Quest. That must have been so anxiety-producing for you all. Good thing you had the proctored tests on hand!

I'd thought that Quest might be a back up for my own travel but will re-think that Plan B!

Hi - I wanted to add another anecdotal experience about pre-flight COVID testing, also flying United.

I initially booked an appointment through United's recommended Trust Assurance - which would have allowed me to visit a local Quest laboratory for a COVID PCR test. The cost would have been $139. However, I had also bought two at-home proctored rapid antigen tests, which I originally read about on Cameron's blog. And, since at the time the testing requirement was 72 hours prior to arrival in Italy, and this gave me time to try the at-home proctored tests, first, before committing the the Trust Assurance test (having read this thread about the wife's result being delayed).

Proctored means that you connect virtually (like a tele-health visit) with a trained "assistant" who observes the entire process of you doing the nasal swab sample collection on your self. Went very smoothly - I cancelled the Trust Assurance appointment in time for a full refund and saved myself quite a bit of money.

Tips for the at-home proctored test: Follow all instructions carefully, including: 1) Download the accompanying app (in my case, called NAVICA) to your phone first, and create an account - be sure your name and date of birth match your official travel documents. 2) I used my laptop to actually make the video call to connect with the proctor. You should have a clean, flat, clear space on a table available, and then be prepared to tilt your laptop screen down to show the entire space. (I think it helped that I had done an unproctored at-home rapid antigen test once before, so I knew a bit what I was doing already.)

I waited maybe a minute for the proctor to come on. They can see and hear you, but you only hear their voice. Once the test was done, I set a timer on my phone for 13 minutes, and came back to my computer so that I would be waiting for the proctor when the 15 minutes ended. When the second proctor came on to verify the result, I could not hear her, though we could use 'chat' with each other. She briefly disconnected and came back on and her audio was restored, no problem. Once complete, I had the test result on my phone in the NAVICA app within minutes. I also accessed the emailed test report, saved it as a PDF and then used the PDF to upload it to the United Travel Ready center using my laptop on the United website. Within a few minutes, United had "approved" the COVID testing documentation. Once you check in for your flight (which you can do at 24 hours before departure), be sure you can see the GREEN "Travel Ready" mark on the boarding pass in the United App on your phone.

My flight leaving the US was delayed for a bit more than an hour. As far as I can tell, the delay was for two reasons: 1) wheelchair assistants who were late helping individuals who needed assistance to the plane, but 2) perhaps the more significant delay -- listening to the gate agent who was frantically/frustratedly speaking to all the passengers through the loud speakers at the gate, and given the length of the line that formed to remedy the issue -- was that people who were using the United App did not (apparently) have the "Travel Ready" green mark on their boarding pass. Again, I only used the United App for my boarding pass. I could see the green "Travel Ready" mark, and I had no problems at the gate.

Remember, the United App will not show the green Travel Ready mark until all the pre-departure documentation has been verified, which includes (1) passport and (2) negative COVID testing documentation approvals, and (3) the "normal" flight check in process.

Hope this is helpful.

Post Scripts:

I also completed the EU dPLF, as required by the United App. I also voluntarily "enroll a trip" at step.state.gov, which I have done for years/decades.

CDC cards are checked nearly everywhere in Italy - at entry points for trains, tourist places where you buy or have tickets checked, and in restaurants. And, I'd say, more people (Italians and tourists, if there are any) are wearing masks here than where I live in the U.S., even outdoors where the chance of transmission is relatively low.

Posted by
9888 posts

Catherine - thank you so much for sharing the details of your experience. This is really helpful.