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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)

  • Robert Brooks says:

    I haven’t flown in over 1 Year and all these pre-departure test sites and restrictions are making me rather confused, so I hope someone can make it simple for me. Reading this, would I be allowed to use the ExpressTest on the day before I departed, and then book again for the day I return for my testing? I am hoping to fly to the USA at the end of October, US Corridor permitting, and I have had both vaccinations. Reading the provider list on the BA website just made me feel more lost in the rules than ever! Thanks for any help! 🙂

    • Rhys says:

      Yes, ExpressTest offers pre-departure/fit to fly tests as well. Just make sure you get your results in good time before your flight.

    • Rob says:

      We have absolutely no idea what requirements the US will want, so your question cannot be answered!

      • Michael says:

        I flew to the USA from LHR T5 on Friday (as I had eligibility to travel).
        The USA request EITHER a PCR OR a Lateral Flow test, so I used the ExpressTest service when I arrived at T5 only 3 hours before my flight. The cost was £35 and results took 30mins, it all went very smoothly. I had pre-booked only 1 hour before and there was LOADS of availability. I showed my negative result on email to the BA check-in staff and was never asked to show it again, even upon arriving in the USA.

  • SJ says:

    Has anybody had any experience with the ExpressTest PCR fit to fly that’s guaranteed for 10pm next day and what time they actually come? Currently nervously awaiting my results and hoping it’s not going to be at 9:59pm tonight.

    • Birdy says:

      Ours didn’t arrive by 10pm so I sent an email at 10.05pm and within a few minutes had the results plus a response resending the results and apologising. This seems to be the exception though and I think they could come any time before 10pm. We went to Croydon.

    • Patrycja says:

      My one arrived at 8pm the next day. Their certificate looked very professional

    • Liz says:

      Mine came through just before 9pm on the second day. Was a bit too close for comfort.

    • SJ says:

      Update: 22:15, still nothing. Called and they said it could be overnight. Cutting it far too fine for my liking!

  • Dino says:

    If you have to pre- book a slot for the one Rhys did at Heathrow (ie day 2 test, done on arrival into the uk) what happens if your flight is delayed? To me this seems like the risk – you pro-bono and then tour flight gets delayed.

  • Dino says:

    Damn predictive text – I meant to say pre-book (not pro-bono) and your flight gets delayed

  • BrightonReadee says:

    That was my question as well.

    What happens if you book a good faith appointment for say an hour after you arrive – to allow for immigration and baggage collection – but your flight is delayed or you get stuck in a long immigration queue or it takes an age for bags to arrive.

    Equally what if you arrive early?

    Some confirmation that arrival from Amber is now only a day 0-2 yes and not day 8 as well. One part of the website says only day 0-2 but the booking is still both.

    • Rob says:

      I’m sure you’re fine, as long as they are open. If your flight is late then you can probably take a slot from a later passenger whose flight is also late. These places are also running nowhere near capacity, to put it mildly.

  • Bob says:

    testing for all is quite straightforward and apparently a nonprofit.

  • Paul says:

    There is NO £69 ‘fully vaccinated amber arrivals’ tab on their page. Only for Green arrivals (‘cannot be used for arrivals from amber locations’).
    Is that a change to their policy ?

    • ChrisC says:

      This is where it gets confusing.

      On one page of their website they do say only a day 0-2 test is needed for amber arrivals but the buy page hasn’t been updated for that.

      see the ‘traffic light arrivals’ chart.

      https://www.expresstest.co.uk/

  • Joan says:

    I’ve just booked to visit my daughter in Switzerland at the end of next week – so can I just order a pcr test now to be delivered to my home before I go – then just do the test when I get home , post it off – and can I go back to work without having to wait for the results ?
    Thank you 😊
    I have also booked to go late August but decided to get a visit in now in case Boris decides to lock us down again , or Switzerland decide they don’t want us !

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