Covid testing challenges put travel advisor to the test

Any trip has the potential to turn into a fiasco, but the added layer of Covid-19 testing requirements really increases the odds.

And the odds weren’t in Kellie Bishop’s favor when it came to a family of four’s recent expedition. But the president of Travel Leaders in Charlottesville, Va., pulled out all the stops to save the trip, showing in the process how complex the post-booking, pre-trip period has become.

Bishop’s clients, who live in Washington, D.C., were headed on an Antarctica voyage with Abercrombie & Kent. But on Dec. 30, the clients texted Bishop to say that they couldn’t get the required PCR tests they needed to travel first to Argentina. Pharmacies and airport testing sites were booked.

Bishop got to work. She found them two options: A lab that would test them the morning of travel and a service that would come to their homes earlier, for $500. Two clients opted for the home service, while the other two found test sites in Maryland. Ultimately, one of the latter opted for home service, too, when her results were delayed.

When they arrived at the airport, one was told she couldn’t travel. A negative result was required within 72 hours of the flight; hers was 74 hours old. 

Did we mention this all happened amid a snowstorm? 

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While Bishop scrambled to get the family member on a later flight, the first flight was canceled. And in the ensuing time period, all the home Covid tests fell outside of the 72-hour window.

Bishop’s clients returned home (after waiting 90 minutes for a Lyft), and the $500 home testing service returned early the next morning. 

They did make it to Buenos Aires, Bishop said, but the youngest member of the group, a 19-year-old college student, didn’t get her bag upon arrival. Not one to be deterred, Bishop got to work again, phoning hotel concierges to find a boutique. She found a shop, and it even stayed open an extra hour for her clients.

Bishop has received several photos from her clients, who were still on their trip last week.

“I had dubbed myself ‘chief possibility officer’ quite a number of years ago,” Bishop said. “I don’t take ‘no’ well for an answer.”

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