UAE flights: Book Covid PCR tests days ahead to avoid travel delays, passengers told

Demand for testing has gone up in the country, with residents reporting long queues at healthcare centres


Waheed Abbas

Published: Thu 6 Jan 2022, 2:21 PM

With travel season peaking in the UAE, residents and tourists looking to fly out are faced with long queues for PCR tests.

Travellers have been advised to book Covid-19 tests around 8-10 days ahead of their scheduled flight, until the rush for tests eases in the next 5-7 days. This applies especially to those flying to the US.

Mir Wasim Raja, manager, MICE and holidays, Galadari International Travel Services, believes advance bookings for Covid-19 PCR tests will help UAE travellers ensure a smooth travel experience.

“Most clinics are offering test results after 24 hours or more. You can’t just walk in and say you want to take a six-hour test anymore. If the slot is available, they will give the result, but that’s not the case most of the time as they have limited testing capacities."

It's a challenge being faced by travellers not just here in the UAE, but in India also, he said. "There are a few clinics who are issuing Covid-19 test results in six to eight hours but they are charging a premium, costing up to Dh250 per test. Travellers should, therefore, make bookings with the healthcare services providers a week in advance to ensure that they get a good rate for the Covid-19 test and also get the result in time.”

Covid-19 test rush to ease soon

Avinash Adnani, managing director of Pluto Travels, expects that the long queues for Covid-19 tests will be over soon, however. Most of the tourists who had come to Dubai to celebrate the New Year have gone back to their countries and now it’s just the general population and regular travellers who will be taking Covid-19 tests, he said.

“You have to book the tests in advance; that’s the main solution. The best is to plan in advance because you know the date of travel,” he advised, adding that the major challenge is for the passengers – especially students – travelling to the US, as the American government requires travellers to take the tests one day prior to departure.


“A lot of the student population is in the country right now and are travelling back. They are anxious because the US is the only country at the moment, which is asking for a one-day test, while the rest of the countries are asking for tests with a validity of 48 hours and above,” he added.

“We expect that this thing should ease out, because a lot of people had to travel out after the New Year this week and they all had to get a test done. A large chunk of tourists has already left the country in the first week. Now it’s only the regular travellers and local UAE population who are getting the tests done. So, we expect the rush to subside in the next 5-7 days compared to the first week of January,” added Adnani.

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