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Review: ExpressTest ‘Day 2’ arrivals testing at Heathrow Terminal 5

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HfP in the Balearics

This is our review of the ExpressTest ‘Day 2’ covid testing service at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.

After six fabulous nights in the Balearics it was time to come home …. and that meant more testing.

(If you are planning on travelling to the Mallorca or Ibiza then you may like to read our reviews of the St Regis Mardavall, Sheraton Mallorca, Castillo Hotel Son Vida or the W Ibiza.)

ExpressTest invited us to try out their ‘test on arrival’ facility at Heathrow Terminal 5. ExpressTest will soon be the exclusive on-site testing provider at all Heathrow terminals so it is worth being familiar with how it works.

ExpressTest Heathrow T5

The key thing to remember is that what is commonly called a ‘Day 2’ test is actually nothing of the sort. You can take the test on Day 0 (your arrival day), Day 1 or Day 2. It is perfectly acceptable to do it within minutes of getting off your aircraft.

Remember that you need to pre-book your test before your arrival in the UK, as you need to use the booking reference when completing your Passenger Locator Form. You will not be allowed entry to the UK otherwise.

Tests can be booked on the ExpressTest website here. They are currently able to process more than 20,000 tests at Heathrow a day, which gives you a sense of the scale of the operation.

When I booked there were slots available pretty much all day. A Green or ‘fully vaccinated Amber’ arrivals test costs £69, which is competitive for in-person PCR testing.

ExpressTest Heathrow T5 entrance

ExpressTest is currently landside on the Departures floor at Terminal 5. From Arrivals you just take the lift up. It is located behind the check-in desks in Zone G:

There weren’t many arrivals into Terminal 5 when I landed so the testing facility was quiet.

It is based on a one-way system. You check in at the desks with your booking confirmation QR code. You then proceed to one of the 10 booths where a staff member will take the swab for you.

The entire staff were lovely throughout – very chatty and friendly. Here I am getting my nostril swabbed ….

ExpressTest Heathrow T5 nose swab

I always find having someone else do it is much better than doing it myself. I’m never sure if I’ve swabbed deeply enough or long enough, but these people have been trained specifically for this purpose. I also find it much easier not inflicting the awful nose-tickling on myself!

The whole process is over within seconds. The swab is then processed:

ExpressTest Heathrow T5 staff

…. before being taken to a lab on the Heathrow premises for testing. ExpressTest guarantees the results by 10pm the next day, although this is less important as an arrival. I got my results pretty much on the dot – thankfully I was negative.

If you are departing you can also opt for a fast-track test. I imagine this is mostly used by people who forget or don’t realise they need a test to enter their destination country.

Conclusion

I recommend getting your Day 2 test out of the way as soon as you arrive in the UK. Whilst I tried an at-home postal kit when I arrived from Portugal in May, popping into the ExpressTest facility saved the hassle of having to swab myself and post a kit back. I was able to leave the airport and move on.

ExpressTest pricing is competitive with the vast majority of providers. £69 is very reasonable compared to most ‘in person’ tests, especially given the location. You can find out more on their website here.

Comments (157)

  • Phil G says:

    Just used the Randox at home day 2 test which was £40 ish and was easy to order, administer and post back

  • Anna says:

    Good to know – if these tests are indeed a long term requirement this could be done while waiting for a connecting flight, presumably.
    Also nice to put a face to the name, Rhys, even though you had a swab up your nostril!

    • Rhys says:

      You should come to one of our parties!

      • WaynedP says:

        Suggest you and Rob arrange a venue with double capacity .. next HfP gathering is likely to be heavily oversubscribed when it finally happens.

    • Rob says:

      You should recognise him from the appearances on Chinese TV or the NBC ‘Today’ show in the US 🙂

      • Alex Sm says:

        We are still waiting for mysterious “Mrs Jones” to appear in one of the photos, not cropped out of them 😉

  • Anna says:

    Did you also still have to do a pre departure test in the 3 days prior to leaving the Balearics or did this test mean you didn’t have to do that? This is the part that really puts me off going abroad!

    • Rhys says:

      You still have to do a lateral flow before returning to the UK but to be honest that’s the easiest part. Testing sites are everywhere in the touristy parts and the tests are cheaper than here.

  • Paul says:

    ExpressTest pricing is competitive with the vast majority of providers. £69 is very reasonable compared to most ‘in person’ tests, especially given the location.

    Not sure this is accurate. The cost of testing in the U.K. is exorbitant. Given we have the highest level of testing capacity in Europe why nationals should need to pay at all is questionable. At the height of the pandemic I could understand the need to protect NHS testing.

    Now the country is awash with test kits and U.K. taxpayers should now be allowed to use the NHS testing for day 2 and day 8.

    I have looked at some costs in Europe and in person rapid testing seem to be around 30 euros. Not sure anyone on rip off plague island is at that level.

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      It’s accurate in context. Yes, it’s a lot cheaper to get tests in other countries in Europe but unfortunately in the UK they seem more concerned that you’ve paid for your test rather than just taken them.

      From a UK point of view £69 for an in person test is great value considering the convenience of being at the airport and the usual things in London being more expensive.

      For me on a recent visit to the UK (from Italy, amber) I used Randox postal kits. For some getting the testing out of the way at the airport is better but I’d rather take the test at day 2 rather than 0 so it doesn’t seem completely pointless (after all I had already done a test a few hours before arrival to just get in the country and if I caught something in the airport or on the plane it won’t show up immediately), this also gives you a reason to go for a drive or walk (depending where you need to drop the test kit). Day 5 I did in person as a negative result means no more quarantine. The day 8 test is a complete waste of time when you’ve done the optional day 5 one.

    • Andrew says:

      $199 seems the normal in Canada.

      I’m not entirely sure why you have such an obsession with the mice plague in Australia.

    • Rhys says:

      Good luck trying to use your cheaper European test for your day 2 test…..

  • Chan says:

    Who’s the quickest of reporting results these days? Any one same day, say for a 2pm test?

  • Richard says:

    Is it known when Collinson will close down at LHR? They are very useful offering the LAMP test for pre departure tests – which it seems ExpressTest won’t offer.

    • Rhys says:

      Early August I believe, although ExpressTest are also rolling out more testing options soon

  • ChrisW says:

    Does anyone actually check/care if you take your Day 2 test from a Green country provided youve paid for it in advance? No one called to ask me if I’d taked mine.

    • Anna says:

      I hadn’t thought about this. Does the testing facility notify the authorities when you return the test or are you supposed to register the result somewhere as with the free LFTs?

      • ChrisW says:

        When I returned from amber T&T called and asked if I had taken the tests and it was clear they hadn’t been notified of the results as I told them several times I did Test to Release and they still kept reading out the 10 day isolation script. I don’t believe the system is sophisticated enough that the result from the test number on your PLF is sent by the testing provider and your name is then crossed off by T&T as having taken the test.

        Return from green country nobody called about anything.

        I always thought nobody cared if you actually took the test, provided you had paid for it and lined someone’s pocket. I certainly don’t think the testing provider could care less if you actually take the test you’ve purchased.

        • Yuff says:

          My wife and daughter returned from the Balearics after May half term and she was called every day until they did TTR. When she told them she had had a negative TTR they said they would make a note not to call again and make sure they did the day 8 test.
          It wasn’t clear anywhere if you needed a negative day 2 test to do a TTR test in person, but Tracey, on here helpfully suggested call 119 who categorically stated you did not need a negative day 2 test to attend an in person TTR test.
          The day 2 test results did not arrive until they were on the way to easy mids for their tests………

          • ChrisW says:

            Did they stop calling after you told them about your negative TTR results? Mine didn’t.

    • Yuff says:

      I thought exactly the same when we came back from the Balearics earlier this month.
      We did the tests though and they came back not detected. Don’t actually know whether that’s no virus detected or we both didn’t do the test properly……🤷🏻‍♂️

      • Lottie says:

        I was concerned when I read that on mine, but it does mean no virus detected If you haven’t done it properly you get different wording.

    • Rhys says:

      Not that I know. And indeed I know someone whose day 2 test never arrived and therefore has never done it…

    • Aaron C says:

      No I don’t think they do. I’m fairly sure there’s no checks at all and it relies on people complying (maybe with some random follow ups). When I came back from Madeira in May it took 8 days to get the d2 result and nobody made any checks.
      I’m happy to use the cheapest provider and if the test doesn’t turn up (or isn’t processed) I’m not fussed.

  • Mirp says:

    So is Collinson leaving Heathrow and LCY? I used both and they were efficient if expensive at the time.

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