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Ground agents at Las Vegas (wrongly) would not accept home tests

There is a long discussion on FlyerTalk of a situation at the British Airways check-in area at Las Vegas airport. There was a huge hand-written sign saying that “at home and online” tests would not be accepted for boarding. Some 65 passengers were told to go get another test before they could board. A link to the whole discussion is below (but as usual on FlyerTalk it gets very long) so here is one woman’s description:

We had read all of the emails sent by BA prior to check-in and checked the UK regulations.
We had bought a verified test via a link on the BA website, followed all instructions and achieved a negative >result. Email verification was sent to that effect.
We checked out of our hotel, returned our rental car and arrived at LAS departures with plenty of time to spare, >not knowing how much extra time would be required due to all the regs.
The BA check-in finally opened after 5pm (for our flight at 9pm).
The BA staff did not allow us to line up until they had pulled out and displayed a number of BA signs and a >giant unprofessional Sharpie/sellotaped paper sign that stated no home or online tests would be accepted.
As our test was BA approved we were not concerned and joined the queue.
. . . .
Meanwhile, the female BA rep asked if we had gone to a lab to get our tests done. I replied that we had not >but had tested negative on the verified and approved tests bought via the BA website. She said that they were >not valid and that we would not be flying that evening. No discussion.
We were reeling. We were told to go and book a lab test and return the following day. I explained that we had >no idea of where or how to find a lab to be tested at. . . . >. She said it was also too late to >go to another >terminal where we could be tested. . . . I . . . said please could she advise us about finding a lab test. She >immediately pulled a business card out of her pocket and suggested we speak with this company.
My husband called the gentleman who quoted $200 per person and said that he could attend our hotel the >following morning to carry out the test. We said that we would call back as we did not/do not have the money >to spend on the tests and extra expenses that were being incurred.

After calling around to CVS stores that offered “lab” tests, renting a car, and booking a room for the night:

We finally had a car and raced (it was past 8pm at this point) to two different CVS stores both of which declared >testing had closed at 8pm (not 9pm as advised) and that we had to book online, despite that system being >down. We had no choice but to text the BA rep 'recommended' company to book in and hope that he could fit >us in.
, , , ,
The following morning our text was returned and we arranged an appointment for the 'lab' tests. The 'lab' test >company could fit us in after visiting the previous 22 appointments that they already had that morning.
TESTING: the gentleman attended our hotel room, gave us forms to fill out, handed us the tests and we >individually went into the bathroom to self-administer the tests. Nothing was witnessed at all.

They did board the flight the following day, as did the other passengers. But the story is very disturbing, especially the part about being handed a business card for the person who would do an acceptable test. . . And then did not even witness the swab. There are photos in the thread of the hand-written sign at the airport, and it would be comical if it didn’t have such serious consequences. Note that the agents who rejected the “home” tests were not British Airways employees; they are contract agents.

I hope they get this straightened out. Here is a link to the whole discussion:

https://www.flyertalk.com/forum/british-airways-executive-club/2061891-pre-departure-online-tests-not-being-accepted-ba-las-jfk.html

Posted by
9712 posts

Wow, what a story! And the fact that they had used the test off the BA site. Yikes.

Posted by
13546 posts

I am one of the people here who has tried to take this whole situation in stride. Or that's how it may appear. But in reality I have avoided complicated countries and what ever the requirement was where I did go, I did 110% of the requirement and looked for every verification method possible as backup. Overly cautious maybe, but I have avoided the home tests. They just sounded iffy to me and if they sounded iffy to me I figured eventually someone else might see them as iffy. You may have done everything by the book, but the book is a confusing mess for some locations and carriers. I need a test, I get two. I need a CDC card I carry that and the receipts from the clinic that gave me the jabs. Shouldn't be necessary, but ................................ France want a bunch of paperwork and a QR code, skip France. Still a million easy places on my bucket list.

Posted by
2393 posts

I found this article on The Points Guy website about this situation.
https://thepointsguy.com/news/las-vegan-mccarran-heathrow-airport-covid-testing-confusion-british-airways/

TPG mentions 2 issues: "The first issue was a misleading sign that appeared at check-in that claimed at-home and online testing wouldn’t be accepted for travel. This is only correct if your at-home test is an unobserved antigen test, or wasn’t processed in a lab which would then provide the relevant documentation following a negative result (like a QR code or downloaded letter document) ... and the frankly awful user experience on the official U.K. government website where it lays out COVID-19 travel advice."

Posted by
1775 posts

Thanks for this - it didn’t hit any of our local news stations (yet) and we’re booked on this flight in April. Hopefully they’ll get is squared away in time. I’ll have to check out the date when this happened because this flight has only been operating for a month after COVID shutdown.

Posted by
13082 posts

Patty, the issue began on December 12. I thought of you when I read about this as I recalled you had moved to Las Vegas.

Posted by
2013 posts

A couple of suggestions
1. Document EVERYTHIHNG. Name of the agent, etc. Then you send the airline a letter asking for reimbursement of all the expenses.

2. Ask for the supervisor. Do NOT accept "we don't have one", they are not speaking the truth. Be polite but do NOT step away from the desk without the supervisor.
3. Be ready to access the appropriate government website. (Or have it printed if you flying out of LAS. For years I traveled with printouts from the TSA website so I could train the agents. Sad, but sometimes you have to do that LOL) If they won't look at it, be sure to document that you pulled it up and tried.

Posted by
1775 posts

Thanks for this alert - disappointed it was so recent. Who knows what will happen between now and April. I think we’ll be prepared to do the PCR to avoid any potential problems.