95% Of Passengers On One Flight Faked Their Negative Covid-19 Tests

Passengers using fake tests in order to travel is a problem that confounds the re-opening rules several countries have put in place to reduce the amount of virus brought into the country by travel.

In some parts of the world it’s hard to get tests. In some parts of the U.S. it’s hard to get test results quickly. For testing to work it has to be convenient and fast, and then it works even better to prevent spread of Covid-19. A rapid test on departure or arrival is likely better than a PCR test taken 72 or 96 hours prior to departure, especially in an area with widespread virus transmission.

Overall the number of Covid-19 cases attributable to travel is very small as a proportion of total cases, and testing doesn’t create a 100% barrier to spreading the virus. As long as fake tests remains a small part of a testing program, it may be manageable. But what about when fake testing becomes widespread?

95% of passengers on a single flight used an identical test in order to travel, with more than 190 of 200 passengers on the November 25, 2020 Pegas Fly flight EO429 from Moscow to Zhengzhou presenting photoshopped negative results.

China’s embassy in Moscow checked documentation for passengers prior to the flight’s departure and rejected travel. Pegas Fly cancelled the flight, since they were going to be permitted to carry fewer than 10 of their passengers. According to the embassy, “There’s no way to guarantee the accuracy of these tests and as a result the passengers were unable to receive a ‘health code’ to board the plane.”

Neither the Krasnoyarsk-based Ikar Airlines, which operates as Pegas Fly, nor the organization that conducted the test “could provide a reasonable explanation for the exact same test results,” the Chinese Embassy said. It asked the airline to arrange for new tests and to accommodate the stranded passengers.

Faked tests don’t mean that a passenger had the virus, it may mean it was hard to get tested. You’d expect someone shedding the virus wouldn’t travel, and would self-quarantine, but people are selfish and unreasonable – as evidenced by the couple arrested for flying home to Hawaii when they knew they were positive with the virus.

(HT: Your Mileage May Vary)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. This is why when I faked my test I didn’t buy it wholesale. Much easier to do it yourself at home with a pdf editor. Amateurs.

  2. Ben – sorry but not funny. That is why health certificates may be required or testing done at certified locations only.

  3. I am all for faking these sorts of things. That’s why there is a grey market and black market.
    Awful, arbitrary government rules for things of little consequence to real humans.

    I think it’s widespread, and I cheer on every person faking their tests.
    Humans always find a way to fight oppression, this is just another example.

  4. Governments should consider attaching test results/vaccine to passport number or at least GOES accounts. Clear, anyone?

  5. Undoubtedly there will be some system for attaching vaccination records to passport details, ie ‘ no vaccine, no fly’ ( unless there’s a compelling medical reason for failure to vaccinate).
    As for those presenting with fake tests ( and who’d be surprised the fakers were on a flight from Russia to China…)….a mandatory prison sentence, followed by a lifetime ban from flying…

  6. COVID tyranny doesnt work. No amount of regulations and authoritarian laws will stop people from finding ways around these silly COVID rules. Its those of us who follow these silly rules that suffer. The vast majority of us wont die or suffer long term problems from this. Yet we are treating this thing as if its worse than ebola or black plague.

  7. It’s ok we’ve been assured that you can’t catch Covid with masks and HEPA filtration on planes. No worries.

  8. Just make everybody take rapid test before check-in, have them add the cost to the ticket. They make up plenty of bogus fees to drive up the price of tickets, it would be refreshing to see an actual expense that drives up the price of the tickets, that actual benefits the passengers and the lower level employees of an airlines. Here are some actual fees that are called something else when you buy a ticket: I need a second home in Europe fee; I need a top floor with heliport suite when I go on vacation fee; my kids turned sixteen and a used Mercedes is just not good enough fee; and my personal favorite, my mistress needs a personal assistant fee. You know it is true.

  9. I cheer on the people woth the fake docs too… I have neighbors that are doctors that said that they would sign paperwork saying I had the cooties shot by they don’t believe the nonsense or the safety of the vaccine either.

  10. 1.5 million dead and 65 million cases in less than a year, with no immediate end in sight. And yet people are proactive in circumventing procedures to help combat the spread. An epidemiologist said that it’s not that the virus makes it challenging, it’s the people that make it challenging to stop spreading.

  11. I’ve taken several COVID tests before travel. Last one took 5 days to get results back. If I need to get one again, I will just change the dates on one of my former tests. No way anything can be verified. Unless someone can guarantee me access to quick results, not my problem. Call the COVID police. Oh wait, there’s no law against using a fake test. For those of you who think this is bad, get over yourself. And stay home forever for all I care!

  12. That is phenomenal. I love when markets overcome, ignorant, draconian edicts from those in authority.

  13. Howard,

    I didn’t realize you are: an open borders fan opposed to Trump’s “build the wall” and “travel ban” antics; calling for American borders to be opened up too without any “awful, arbitrary government rules” restricting people who aren’t fans of oppressive measures to cross the border.

  14. James N,

    Are you singing the same song when people migrate to the US in irregular/illegal ways by playing the market for illegal crossings into the US so as to get the benefits of participating in the American market as undocumented/irregular/illegal aliens?

  15. Some truly deplorable people posting here today.

    The idea that being asked to take reasonable and rational steps to limit the number of your fellow human beings that get sick and die or lose their economic security has become “oppression” is just sad.

  16. In France, when one gets a test at a pharmacy you get the results on a print out with the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health seal and a barcode. If other governments wanted to implement this infrastructure they could.

  17. James N,

    Anything that gets in the way of the free market being the free market — including efforts at stopping that very irregular migration which is itself part and parcel of natural market forces — is an “ignorant, draconian edict” stopping Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” and all the socio-economic good delivered by letting all people do what they want to do without government restrictions at the borders or elsewhere. Or so the so-called “libertarians” and “pro-business” characters claim when they feel it suitable (and hypocritically deny when they feel it unsuitable).

    I am still amused at the hypocrisy of those who find a government demand to be tested for a disease (and call such testing requirement for border crossing) to be an “ignorant, draconian edict” when done by a foreign government but the routine stuff required by the US Government of foreigners (and even Americans at times) wanting to travel and enter the US gets an A-OK.

    What are you going to say when government actors ask for proof of vaccination or other immunity for Covid-19 to travel internationally? Is that really more of an “ignorant, draconian edict” than Trump’s stupid travel bans?

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