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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)

  • Angela Shelton says:

    Just returned from two glorious weeks in Majorca. Had booked with TUI so used Chronomics that they have partnered with £20 each for lateral flow you take with you and register on line. Certificate within minutes. PCR waiting for you when you get home . Great service.
    Our small three star hotel was offering lateral flow test every morning with a local doctor for €45 and if you needed it a PCR test for €95. I believe there were plenty of places in town also offering tests.

    • Aaron C says:

      Agree. The TUI/Chronomics is the best service out there IMO. No video appointments or any nonsense like that. All done with photos and emailed certificate in minutes. Shame the test to return is only open to TUI customers.

  • LessCleverAndrew says:

    Not so good experience with ExpressTest. Booked in-person lateral flow tests for Today, Tuesday, at Heathrow T4, then had to cancel on Saturday due to the France Amber++ situation. Their Ts and Cs allow you to cancel 72 hours before for a voucher as long as its not a spurious cancellation. However, their cancellation form simply did “nothing” – no error, no new page, nothing. Now I am on the hook for 140GBP and there is nothing I can do about it.

    Trying to get through on the phone is also impossible.

    • Anna says:

      S75/chargeback given that Express Test have failed to comply with their own Ts and Cs by not giving you a voucher?

  • Peggerz says:

    Is there anyone for a day2 test airside at T5 LHR if you come in from an Amber country (fully jagged) and getting a connecting flight? If not, what timescales to get through to landside these days, have test and then return to airside for onward journey?

    • Sam G says:

      according to press there have been long queues again, so I wouldn’t plan to do that as UK connections have their own immigration so you can avoid that queue

      • Anna says:

        I’ve never been in a separate queue, always had to queue for immigration with the rest of the passengers then hot foot it upstairs and queue for security 😣

      • Lady London says:

        be careful though as historically taking the Connections route could sometimes take longer than immigrating then emigrating. Especially if bad weather caused lots of irrops and staff were overwhelmed with long queues

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Is the connecting flight to another country or within UK/CTA? I’ve connected overnight in LHR to international destinations and you don’t need to have a day 2 test if you transit. You will get called to the desk, the egates won’t work but just show your onward boarding pass

  • JamesCG says:

    Two basic questions on the Randox Two Day test:
    Does it fit through a standard letterbox when posted by them and does it have to be signed for?
    Is the reference number that you need for the form to re-enter the UK only on the test packaging itself or is this also emailed to you once you have ordered it?
    Many thanks!

    • Optimus Prime says:

      The reference number for the PLF is on the email.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, Randox send you two emails. The order confirmation has the RANDX123456789 number on it. It is NOT the number you get in the intial confirmation email which is your order reference.

    • Harry T says:

      I got my Randox day two tests delivered to a local shop for pickup (DPD was the courier), as they didn’t fit through my letterbox.

  • Aaron C says:

    Iceland provide testing in downtown Reykjavik (3mins from the Hilton) through the local primary care system (a bit like the NHS?). 30 EURO for lateral flow with certification (emailed in under an hour) or 50EUR for PCR. Given how super expensive everything in Iceland is it shows what a rip off the U.K. is.

  • Chris says:

    If you don’t know, BA have some discount codes on this page: https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/incident/coronavirus/covid19-tests#suppliertable

    For ExpressTest it’s BA21. For a Lateral Flow Fit-to-Fly from the UK it takes it down from £35 to… £33.60.

  • A says:

    I just want the cheapest method of getting a 2 & 8 number for the advance passenger crap for my travel next week.
    Don’t care if its a non-existent in person appointment above a chip shop that never happens, nor if it is a by mail kit that never arrives.

    Suggestions?

  • Peter says:

    Cheapest test provider seems to be https://www.expert-medicals.co.uk/collections/navigation
    28 for green 70 for amber plus 8 for shipping.

    • A says:

      Is any of the info actually verified or checked?
      I mean like if I book one of the cheap £35 in clinic 2 & 8 ones for weeks in the future (because no availability on actual day 2 & 8) can anyone verify this info/test booking dates, or is it simply that you book it, get the ref number for the advance passenger form, and thats it, done & dusted?

      • Mr. AC says:

        Occasionally the Border Force officer asks to see the full booking confirmation e-mail of the tests. Happens around 50% of the time in my experience.

    • Anna says:

      I’ve ordered the Expert Medicals, it’s £35.99 with postage, I’ve put a couple of comments on here and the general thread.

      • A says:

        Yeah, i need 2 & 8 as coming from home in the US.. expert medicals is also the cheapest for that at £70 plus postage.
        However, the confirm testing 2&8 in clinic is half of that cost at £35…..hence the question above re: dates.

        I am also firmly of the opinion it is a rip off and borderline scam (especially considering testing here in the US – with the most ruinous of all healthcare systems – is completely free!), and largely pointless, and I simply want the very cheapest option possible, and I don’t really care about the tests or the results.

        • Aaron C says:

          It is a scam. Do you need both 2 and 8 from the USA? I guess you’re not vaccinated in the U.K. if so.
          Dunno why you can’t order 2 x Day2 tests from expert?

          • A says:

            No, I am a UK citizen but I live in the US and not UK vaccinated – I haven’t been back or seen my parents in almost two years.

            What does the day 2 email receipt from expert look like?
            Is it….editable… (yes, illegal blah blah, don’t care)

            I still cannot see how buying two day 2 tests is not permitted and you have to (apparently) buy the 2 & 8 package.

        • Peter says:

          If you just want a reference number to put on the form, you can get one here:
          https://www.rtdiagnostics.co.uk/register-your-kit/
          It doesn’t look like there is any kind of verification on the government form anyway.

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