In order to travel internationally, a Covid test is required. But each country has its own timeline. For Thailand, they require your results be issued within 72 hours of your departure, and that the testing results must state that the RT-PCR protocol have been used. Sounds straightforward, right?
Our flight left Seattle on 7:23 am on Wednesday, December 8th. We flew to San Francisco, changed planes, flew to Seoul, changed planes again and then flew on to Bangkok. We assumed that the 72 hour window started when we boarded our first flight. After all, we were checked through to Bangkok. So, we needed to have our results at 7:23 am on December 5th at the very earliest. We tried to find out how long results were taking and were told anywhere between 24 and 72 hours. So, we decided to schedule a test for 9 am on December 4th, assuming we would get the results after 9 am on December 5th. We checked to make sure it would be a RT-PCR test and were told that it would be. Great! We drove up to Everett, took the test, and were feeling pretty smug. We double-checked the timeline and were told that we would get the results back in 24 hours to 48 hours.
The evening of the 4th, we got our results – way too early. And the lab had used an NAAT test. Technically, a RT-PCR test IS an NAAT test, but we somehow doubted that the airline employee checking our documents would know that; it was not clearly stated on the results that the RT-PCR protocol had been used. So, back to square one. We would need to get tested again. We had already booked a test on Monday with our health care provider as well as an emergency test directly with a lab on Tuesday just in case the Monday test result did not come back in time. The test on Monday was free, but to get a result back from the Tuesday test, we would be charged over $200 apiece.
Clayton went online and found a walkup testing site near us that did Sunday tests. We made an appointment for Sunday morning at 9 am and when we checked in, reiterated that the results MUST state RT-PCR. We were reassured that they would. The results came back Monday morning. My results were negative and used the RT-PCR protocol; Clayton’s were negative but used an entirely different protocol. Grrr!!! So, we drove to have Clayton tested yet again (test #3!).
We received Clayton’s results just before we left for our appointment on Tuesday for the “emergency” expensive test. Negative, and they used the correct protocol. Whew! Now, we could upload our results to the airline website. We were flying on United Airlines to Seoul, and then switched to Asiana Air to get to Bangkok. Both of us received approval from the airline that our results were accepted. Now the only thing left to do was to do on-line check-in.
Clayton was able to successfully check in; I was not. We had booked separately because we used airline points and each cashed in points separately. There was no logical reason I couldn’t check in. So, I called United and was told that they were having some sort of glitch in their system and that I should be able to check in within a couple of hours. No such luck. So, I would have to have my documents checked at the airport. Since we were checking luggage, this was not going to be a huge inconvenience.