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  • Graham

Air Canada launches take-home COVID rapid-test kits

This one's got huge potential; Air Canada announced this morning the launch of new COVID testing kits that will allow travellers to self-administer an RT-LAMP test that meets the Canadian government's requirements to enter the country. Also offered are similar antigen tests that meet the requirements to enter the United States.

In short, you'll buy a test kit online, have it shipped to your Canadian address, and take it with you when you travel. Once you're within 72 hours before the scheduled departure of your flight to Canada, you'll log on to Switch Health's online service (you'll need to create an account, and show government-issued photo ID), and one of their staff will supervise via video call to ensure you've taken the test correctly.

Switch's website claims you'll have results back in under an hour, along with a digital certificate that meets the reporting requirements previously limited to 'accredited labs'. At the time of writing, the Government of Canada website still says travellers "should have their test performed at a reputable laboratory or testing facility" but I'm following up on this now, and it's reasonable to assume that Air Canada and Switch wouldn't announce this until they'd had confirmation the tests would be accepted.

"Switch Health also seamlessly integrates into Air Canada's digital tool, allowing customers to securely submit their COVID-19 test results and records of vaccination, further simplifying the travel experience." said Air Canada Senior Vice President Mark Nasr.

A 2-test antigen kit sells for $79 CAD - you'd pay $40/test at somewhere like Shoppers Drug Mart - while a 1-test RT-LAMP kit sells for $149, about the same cost you'd find at most travel clinics. You'll need an Aeroplan number to unlock that pricing, but no status level is required, and each kit purchased will earn 500 Aeroplan miles, which I value at $10 CAD.

The kits can also be bought with Aeroplan miles, though they're offered at what I would consider to be absolutely ridiculous prices of 25,700 and 14,100 points for the LAMP and antigen tests, respectively.

We'll have more on this story as it unfolds.

- G


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