Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and DailyXtra.ca. Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.
Air Canada is now selling portable COVID-19 testing kits that can be used anywhere in the world, eliminating the need for customers to visit labs while travelling abroad.
The self-administered, molecular and antigen tests kits, launched in partnership with Switch Health, produce results that meet Canada’s entry requirements.
Using the Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Kit, for instance, customers can test themselves while travelling abroad prior to their flight to Canada to meet federal government entry requirements, eliminating the need to visit a foreign clinic.
The tests, which are sold in a blue box, are conducted under the remote supervision of a Telehealth professional from Switch Health and include an electronic report suitable for travel.
“Air Canada is a leader in adopting and implementing science-based safety measures to simplify our customers’ journey,” said Mark Nasr, senior vice-president, products marketing and eCommerce at Air Canada. “Together with Switch Health, we are pleased to offer our customers the most comprehensive range of travel testing options that will make travelling abroad easier and more predictable.”
The tests can be used for travel with other airlines or even to cross the land border, Air Canada has confirmed with PAX.
Switch Health also integrates into Air Canada’s digital tool allowing customers to securely submit their COVID-19 test results and records of vaccination, Nasr added.
In September, while covering in the 2021 Air Canada Race in Basel, Switzerland, PAX had an opportunity to try out the tests for our return flight back to Canada.
In a nutshell: the kit was incredibly convenient.
Essentially, the box is shipped to your home and you pack it with you when you leave Canada.
Prior to your return flight, from wherever you are in destination, you “FaceTime” with a health professional, who guides you through the process, which involves swabbing your sample and letting it develop in a QR-code enabled, battery-operated device.
The results, impressively, process in less than 45 minutes (a green light beside the word “negative” will appear if you’re clear).
This is a huge improvement from the 24 to 48 hours it can take to process PCR tests while in foreign destinations.
From there, you snap a picture of your results, send it off to Switch Health for verification and then, within moments, an official report is sent back, confirming the negative result.
This report is the testing document you show at the airport when it’s time to fly home.
It's a practical and easy solution for customers flying to Canada, who are currently required by the Government of Canada to present a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of their flight.
“Offering these three-types of COVID-19 testing options will help get Canadians back to their favourite activities – like global air travel with Air Canada – safely, reliably and at their convenience,” said Dilian Stoyanov, chief executive officer at Switch Health, in a statement.
Testing for travel
Other COVID-19 testing options include convenient travel testing clinics, a self-administered RT-PCR collection kit and a portable self-administered antigen kit containing two tests which is accepted by many countries such as the United States.
These solutions are designed to ease the travel experience until the mandatory pre-departure test requirement "evolves" for fully vaccinated travellers, Air Canada said in a news release on Monday (Oct. 25).
Meanwhile, the government’s own COVID-19 Testing and Screening Expert Advisory Panel recommends the removal of pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers, “acknowledging that testing at both departure and arrival is excessive,” the airline said.
Preferred pricing for Aeroplan Members
Aeroplan Members have exclusive access to preferred pricing on all Switch Health testing products.
Aeroplan preferred pricing for the portable antigen test kit start at $79 plus applicable taxes (one kit includes two tests), and the portable RT-LAMP test kit start at $149 plus applicable taxes.
Members also earn 1,000 Aeroplan points on RT-PCR tests and 500 Aeroplan points on RT-LAMP test kits and antigen tests.
Members can also redeem their Aeroplan points through the Aeroplan eStore to cover the cost of the test kits.
Customers can visit aircanada.com/switchhealth for all the details or order a test kit at switchhealth.ca/aeroplan or redeem at aircanada.com/estore.
Visit Air Canada’s Travel Ready Hub to obtain information on necessary travel documentation, COVID-19 test requirements and country travel restrictions for any global destination.
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