Passenger Denied Boarding In Covid-19 Testing Catch-22, Finds Nonsensical Workaround

To fly from the U.K. to Ireland you need a negative PCR Covid-19 test. One woman, a U.K. health care worker, was denied boarding for her flight from Birmingham to Dublin despite having a negative PCR test.

The British government offers free Covid testing. They don’t want that system used for travel, so they advise air passengers must get private tests. The health care worker gets regular tests as part of her job, they’re PCR tests, so she brought that to the airport. She was denied boarding because it was a government-provided test.

However she thought she was in the clear – Ryanair’s website specifies that they cannot accept National Health Service “Test and Trace” tests offered free to people who identify with symptoms. Hers wasn’t a test and trace test, it was a regular test for health care workers without symptoms.

Sally Shiels referred to the Irish government guidance that does not mention the use of NHS tests, and she says she checked the Ryanair website which only warned against NHS Test and Trace testing, not other types of NHS tests.

Her workaround?

  • She flew from Birmingham to Belfast, no test required to fly from England to Northern Ireland
  • Then Belfast to Dublin, which doesn’t require tests from Northern Ireland (for people who haven’t been overseas in prior 14 days) and accepts PCR tests – without excluding UK government tests.

Thirty other passengers on the same Ryanair flight were denied boarding over the type of negative Covid-19 test they presented.

The world desperately needs consistent standards for allowing travel, whether it’s a negative PCR test from any lab within 72 hours or full vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. We are not going to get consistent standards, and that’s why we won’t truly have vaccine passports.

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, 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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  1. Yup doesn’t make sense to me either but this pandemic has been a cash cow for private labs offering PCR tests.

  2. UK also accepts antigen tests. I just used one this week. She should have done a rapid test at the airport and been done with it.

  3. This entire issue is a disaster.

    I live in Florida. I want to take a cruise from a Florida port. I want to be on a “safe ship” with other vaxxed pax. But our illustrious governor–who wants our Florida economy to prosper–says No to vaxx passports and No to rules requiring vaxxed pax and crew on a ship. Yet the ships, as privately-run businesses, have the right to require vaxxed pax and crew!

    What do I do, not travel? No. I leave Florida and go somewhere that has its sh*t together, and a standard policy in place.

  4. @KimmieA,
    I dont get your beef with the gov? You want to be on a “safe” ship, you indicate that the cruise company requires vaxxed passengers and crew, ergo, “safe” ship, so go on your cruise. My understanding of FL rules are the government is not going to have mask mandates etc but private businesses can enforce. If I’m wrong on that then I get your point if not, I think it is a great policy.

  5. “The world desperately needs consistent standards for allowing travel, whether it’s a negative PCR test from any lab within 72 hours or full vaccination with an mRNA vaccine.”

    – What the world need is to eliminate these 72 hr test requirements from places with reasonably low Covid-19 cases. or lock down everything like in Australia. This testing circus mainly provides some cash to companies and something to do for the local politicians.

    I am not emergency/rapid response worker but the nature of the job is that we are working on site. Thus, we have been tested every week with PCR regardless of the vaccination status. This was going on from Jan 10 2021. Our positivity rate is well below 1% all the time and there is a good evidence that even those “discovered” cases were false positive. We had this low positivity rate even when the city/area had positivity rate of 7% or above. Overall, this testing protocol is a big waste of money and time for generally healthy and active segment of the population..
    My point is that by simply checking temperature with a scanner and not letting sick people to travel but allow cancellations or ticket changes one could achieve the same if not better result for public health.

  6. David. The illustrious governor of Florida is trying to ban cruise ships from requiring vaccines. Private business or not

  7. Government / NHS tests are not allowed because they are paid for by the taxpayers. The intent is to avoid subsidising travellers. And this rule is well known and not at all a surprise. Yes, it may not make sense to those who get tested on the job but for a change, the UK government actually has a simple, easy to understand policy, even if some may view it as illogical and disagree with it.

  8. What would we do without the bureaucrats and politicians pushing us around? “Because they CAN” … a phrase that has never been so well-used. We can surely chose to just laugh as our tax dollars go down a never-ending drain … that’s a better choice for our mental health. Rioting in the streets will get normal people nowhere, we are powerless and will remain so until ‘something happens’ to rid the world of these parasites working for the government, who are paid by the rest of us who actually DO work for a living.

  9. No forced vaccines or vaccine passport makes sense to me. The vaccine may confer only short lived immunity. Therefor what good is a lifetime passport? Or a 6 month passport? Boosters are now being discussed. No one is guaranteed immunity from having the vaccine. It is very likely that only those who have acquired immunity from having been infected naturally can be considered “safe” despite their not having the passport. Having had chicken pox, measles, mumps, etc as a child there is little possibility of reinfection and no need for an innoculation or a booster against these things as natural immunity has been acquired. You are safer around someone who has had the disease than you are around someone who has been vaccinated.

  10. @karisma, There is overwhelming evidence that the vaccines provide outstanding protection to the person receiving it and to the people who will be near the person. I have no objection to also allowing proof of previously having the disease. Some places do allow that. The only reason it isn’t proven yet how long the vaccine keeps you alive and out of the hospital is that the time simply hasn’t passed in order to prove it. We desperately need vaccination passports so that vaccinated people can get on with their lives. Let the others continue in the world of tests, masks, social distancing and the rest of that if they prefer to. The vaccine passports would not need to be good forever; just until it is shown that a booster is needed whether that be after a year, two years, three years or longer.

  11. @karisma kankelle Everything you state is wrong. Matter of fact, people who have had Covid and then get vaccinated have the most protection. People who a mild infection of Covid still need to be vaccinated. Which is most people who have had Covid, because unless one was hospitalized the chances are that one’s body did not produce enough of an immune response.

    Passports will provide the ONLY solution to unimpeded travel. IATA TravelPass is a vaccine passport and it already exists. So, Gary you are wrong!

    Read: and

  12. @Kuloko
    Not all approved vaccines are mRNA types, although they are proving to be the ‘best’.
    Most Australians are being railroaded/encouraged to accept the inferior non-mRNA AstraZeneca which the Federal Government foolishly committed to buy in bulk in preference to its much smaller purchase of Pfizer vaccine.
    The Government is in complete disarray with the vaccine rollout, doing 360 degree turnarounds on who gets what and when, leading to massive hesitancy and outright confusion. Epic incompetence !
    For once I am a little jealous of our American cousins who can actually CHOOSE which vaccine they want, and just go out and get it, and the breathtakingly impressive national takeup we are seeing. I’m impressed!

  13. @glenn t

    Americans can not all *choose* which vaccine they want. I am in CA and was given the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (like the AZ but J&J is only 1shot) when vaccines were scarce back in March 2021, and I wasn’t given a choice. I would not have chosen J&J, and now I have to sit here and listen to everyone say how great vaccines are — but they are not talking about J&J, they are talking about the 2 shot Pfizer or Moderna. So what situation am I in? Am I ‘vaccinated’ or not? Should I also get the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine even though I already got the J&J? Pfizer & Moderna vaccines are plentiful in the USA now, I can pick any day, any time around me from multiple sources.

    So Gary, would I not be allowed to travel with the perks of a ‘vaccinated’ person since my vaccine was not mRNA? All the US touting what % of people are vaccinated — you bet your bottom dollar J&J people are in that count. But when they say how ‘safe’ you are once vaccinated, they are NOT talking about J&J vaccine recipients, as Gary is clearly highlighting. So the US created this great class of 2nd class citizens — thank you very much, USA.

  14. @Melody
    Effectively, Americans can choose what vaccination they want *now*, but you’re right that we couldn’t a few months ago.

    There are trials in the UK going on right now about mixing and matching various combinations of J&J, AZ, Pfizer/BNT, Moderna together (e.g. 1st shot J&J, 2nd shot Moderna, etc.) to test relative efficacy and see which combinations work best. If I were you, I’d pay attention to the results of those trials, and just go book an appointment for a dose of Moderna or Pfizer/BNT. You could talk to your primary care physician about it too from a “do my underlying conditions affect this plan” perspective if you wanted as well, particularly if you have immune disorders or anything in that related area already.

    Honestly, I did contemplate being in that position back before I got my vaccine, and I decided that for my own personal self, if I were presented with J&J, then I’d just wait 90 days from when it was administered and then start a brand new course of Moderna or Pfizer/BNT once they were more widely available. According to my primary care physician, the 90 day thing is a general rule for any vaccine if your immunization status is unknown (e.g. only got the first shot of a multiple shot regimen, like the hepatitis vaccines we normally would get for overseas travel). Fortunately, I was offered the Moderna vaccine, so I’m satisfied with the level of personal protection that offers, but also I’m 34 years old and I don’t have health conditions yet that would have caused me or my primary care physician any pause with a plan like this.

  15. So much propaganda and folks embrace all of it. Turn off the “news” on your televisions. A 30 second sound bite is a virtual fart in a hurricane.

  16. @ Melody. If one is seeking information (rumors at this stage) on vaccine passports, then this is probably as good of website as any. However, I would caution anyone who is taking medical advice (Tom) from this website to ask seek and knock elsewhere.

  17. @Melody

    Go to your primary care Dr., ask them to test for Covid antibodies. From those results your Dr. can advise you what to do next.

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