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Your guide to COVID-19 airport testing

May 12, 2021
8 min read
Your guide to COVID-19 airport testing
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Finding a reliable place to get a PCR COVID-19 test for travel with quick results can be challenging.

Fortunately, a number of airports offer rapid COVID-19 testing to travelers. Getting a test at the airport can be a great option for travelers who are pressed for time, as long as the test satisfies the entry requirements of your destination.

Many airport testing facilities, for example, only offer rapid or antigen testing. These tests check for proteins on the surface of the virus and are popular for their quick turnaround times, but they aren’t always accepted. Remember that destinations such as Hawaii will only accept PCR tests from a specific list of testing providers.

An airport test can also be a great option for travelers returning home from a trip, or travelers who are leaving the country on short trips and don't want to go through the hassle of finding a new test before flying back to the U.S.

And if you’re flying back to the United States from abroad, you will now need to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before boarding, taken within three days of departure.

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Depending on your departure airport, you may not even have to interrupt your vacation to get a test. But because things change so quickly, you’ll want to contact the sites directly to confirm this information is still accurate and triple-check that the test will meet your specific needs.

If you encounter a location that should be added (or removed) from the list, please email tips@thepointsguy.com.

Check out our latest news and guides for everything related to traveling during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Where you can get a COVID-19 test at the airport

(Photo by JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Cancun International Airport (CUN) in Mexico is offering rapid testing for $14, with a turnaround time of 30 to 60 minutes. Testing is available from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

At Grand Bahama International Airport (FPO) in the Bahamas, rapid testing is available for $50 and RT-PCR tests are available for $150 every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. At Nassau International Airport, a rapid antigen test is available for $40 every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

London Heathrow Airport (LHR) has PCR tests starting at $110, with turnaround times varying. If you're staying at the Sofitel London Heathrow hotel at Terminal 5, there's also a “Test and Rest” package that includes a room and a PCR test. The package starts at $247, and the test can be submitted by 7:30 p.m. for overnight results.

Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) offers antigen tests for 450 Mexican pesos (approximately $22) and PCR tests for 1,450 pesos ($72). However, the airport describes this option as a "last resort and other means should be considered first."

Jamaica's Montego Bay Airport (MBJ) has rapid testing available for $50 and RT-PCR tests are available for $150 from 7 a.m. until the last flight of the day.

Many domestic airports also have introduced COVID-19 testing programs. Here are just a few examples:

At Anchorage International Airport (ANC) in Alaska, testing is free for residents and non-residents.

Connecticut's Bradley International Airport offers COVID-19 tests seven days per week. If the passenger’s insurer does not cover the test, tests are available for $125 each. Results will most likely be available within 72 hours of testing but can take longer. Testing is only available to passengers traveling through Bradley on the day of their flight, and you can preregister before arriving at the testing site.

Testing is open to all at Vermont’s Burlington International Airport (BTV) Monday through Friday, with appointments recommended and results available same-day or 36 to 48 hours. The test may have a fee.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), rapid and PCR testing is available. The rapid antigen test is $120, and patients will receive results in about 20 minutes. The PCR test is $145, and patients will receive results in about 24 to 72 hours.

At Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), American Airlines passengers heading to Hawaii can get a rapid test on the day of travel for $249, with results available in about 15 minutes.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) has testing available between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. PCR tests are $106, and rapid antigen tests are $74. Rapid test results are returned in about 30 minutes, and PCR tests have a 48-hour turnaround.

Testing at Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is located in the Diamond Head Tour Group Area just past baggage claim 31 from 9 a.m. to 12 a.m., Monday to Sunday. No appointment is required, and the test costs $125.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) lets travelers get a PCR for $125, with turnaround times between three to five hours or under 24 hours. The lab in Terminal 6 also offers antigen tests with results available in under an hour for $80.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) has testing open to all. It's free for Minnesota residents and $94 for others. Test results are back “in a few days.” Appointments are accepted but not always required.

New York-LaGuardia (LGA) offers free PCR testing with no appointments necessary in LGA’s Terminal B parking garage, with results delivered by phone within 48 hours. However, this won’t be very useful for travel verification purposes since the results are verbal.

Oakland International Airport (OAK) has two testing centers: one in the airport and a second drive-up location. Only passengers heading to Hawaii are encouraged to use this, though technically, any passenger can book the drive-up location. Appointments are required, and there's a $120 lab fee for expedited processing and a $20 administrative fee for Hawaii’s mandated travel documentation. Results in 30 to 45 minutes for rapid testing and 24 to 48 hours for PCR tests.

Portland International Jetport (PWM) in Maine offers a one-hour rapid test for just $25 per test or an RT-PCR test with a three-day turnaround time for free.

Travelers flying from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) on United Airlines to Hawaii and select destinations in Central and South America and the Caribbean can arrange for a mail-in PCR COVID-19 test. Travelers will receive results in 24 to 48 hours, and the cost is $119.

San Juan International Airport (SJU) offers PCR tests that cost $110. Testing is offered from 6 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week at Terminals A, B, and C.

XpresCheck has airport locations open to passengers in the New York City area at Newark-EWR and New York-JFK, Dulles International Airport (IAD), Reagan National Airport (DCA), Boston (BOS), Salt Lake City (SLC), Houston (IAH), Denver (DEN) and Phoenix (PHX). PCR tests are available by appointment or potentially via walk-up; costs vary. Many locations also provide rapid tests, but the Denver and Salt Lake City locations are after security and open to ticketholders.

XpresSpa offers the Thermo Fisher’s Accula test that is processed on-site at 13 XpresSpa locations in 11 major U.S. airports, with PCR test results available in as little as 30 minutes. Airports where travelers can get PCR results include:

  • New York: John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Houston: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS, two terminal locations)
  • Denver International Airport (DEN)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR, two terminal locations)
  • Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
  • Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC)
  • San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Washington, D.C.: Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

Bottom line

Finding reliable COVID-19 testing has gotten easier in recent months, but if you’re struggling to find a testing location offering fast results prior to a trip or before flying home, the nearest airport may be your answer. However, keep in mind that some airports have ended on-site COVID-19 testing.

Tampa International Airport, for instance, ended its testing program on May 7, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

You may have better luck finding pre-travel testing at a hotel or resort. At the Baha Mar hotel complex in the Bahamas, for example, guests can order a PCR or rapid COVID-19 test ($125 and $25, respectively) before departure. And Viva Wyndham Resorts offers free antigen testing for U.S. residents who visit Dominican Republic hotels.

So, if your departure or arrival airport doesn't have a helpful testing solution, perhaps you can find a test that suits your needs by staying at the right hotel.

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
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  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.