HomeGeneral TravelReview: The UK's HALO Home Covid-19 Test (I Will Be Avoiding It)

Review: The UK’s HALO Home Covid-19 Test (I Will Be Avoiding It)


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I’ve written about the UK’s HALO COVID-19 test quite a few times because it’s a non-invasive, cheap, and easy to take test that I’ve taken on multiple occasions. Now, however, I find myself having to write about the test yet again following a less than satisfactory experience earlier this month.

The last time I wrote about the HALO COVID-19 test I was writing to point out how the limitations surrounding the courier company that HALO uses *may* cause serious issues for anyone using the test ahead of a flight departing on a Tuesday or a Wednesday. This time I’m writing to confirm that the limitations that I said *may* cause issues very definitely *do* cause issues.

Background

There are two key things to know about the HALO home COVID test:

  1. The HALO courier service only offers collections Monday through Friday (it doesn’t operate on weekends).
  2. Unlike the HALO testing service offered at the Sofitel T5, the results of the home HALO test are never available the day after the test is taken. This is because the courier company doesn’t deliver the test to the lab until the day after it was collected. Essentially, if you take a test on a Monday (for example) it will be collected on the same day, delivered to HALO on Tuesday and you’ll get your result on Wednesday.

As I’ve pointed out before, because most destinations require travelers to take their pre-departure COVID-19 tests in the 3 days leading up to their day of travel, the way that HALO’s courier service works makes it unusable for anyone traveling on a Tuesday – the test cannot be taken on the preceding Friday as that would put it outside of the 3-day window, it can’t be taken over the weekend as there are no collections on a weekend and if it’s taken on the Monday the results won’t be returned in time for a traveler to fly.

It also makes it a lottery for anyone traveling on a Wednesday morning as with no weekend collections the test would have to be taken on the preceding Monday, it would only reach the HALO lab on the Tuesday, and then there’s no guarantee that the result would be available in time for a Wednesday morning departure.

My Latest Experience

I’ve now used the HALO test as my pre-departure test on two occasions and on both occasions, my departing flight was on a Wednesday (so I took the test on the Monday).

The first time around I didn’t realize that the courier wouldn’t be delivering the test sample until the day after it had been picked up so I had a somewhat nervous wait on the Wednesday morning waiting to see if my test result would be returned in time for my 12:30 pm flight. On that occasion, the test result arrived a little after 8:00 am and that gave me the confidence to use HALO for my next trip when my flight was departing on a Wednesday afternoon (4:00 pm).

The second time around things did not go well at all.

The first time I used HALO for my ‘fit to fly’ test I got a text message and an email on the day my test was due to be collected to give me an idea of when to expect the courier. The second time around the courier just turned up unannounced. No text message or email alert was received.

The first time I used HALO for my fit to fly test I got a text message on the Tuesday to let me know that my sample had been delivered to the lab. The second time around I received no such message.

When I woke up on the day I was due to fly I half expected to find my test result waiting in my inbox and, when it wasn’t there, I wasn’t overly concerned because it wasn’t yet 8:00 am (the time my last test result was delivered). When 10:00 am came and went and there was still no sign of my test result (I was flying at 4:00 pm), my concern levels were high enough to persuade me to call HALO customer services to see if they could give me some idea as to when I would be getting my result.

The customer services representative was polite and friendly but it quickly became obvious that he was having some kind of issue as he repeatedly asked me to confirm my name, address, phone number, and email address. Eventually, he put me on hold as he went away to “check a few things” and when he returned it wasn’t with the kind of news that I wanted to hear.

Words to the effect of “I can’t find any evidence that your test was delivered to the lab” came down the phone line followed by “I can’t seem to trace where it is”.

Needless to say, I got more than a little annoyed (both at HALO and at myself for not being more suspicious of the useless courier service), and after a few moments of incredulity from me, the customer service representative suggested that the best solution was to assume that the test result would not be arriving any time soon and that I should make alternative arrangements.

Fortunately, Heathrow has on-site rapid pre-departure testing that can return a result in approximately 90 minutes so I quickly went online to book myself a testing appointment for later that day.

I ended up being cleared to fly in plenty of time to catch my flight but it was only when I landed at my destination that I found my test result from HALO waiting for me in my inbox – it had arrived a little after 5:00 pm (an hour after my flight departed) – apparently my test had been delivered after all.

Important To Note

It’s important that I make it very clear that HALO may not have actually done anything wrong here. It promises to deliver a result within 24 hours of receiving a test sample so as I have no way of knowing when the test sample was delivered to the lab, I can’t tell if HALO kept to its promise. But that’s not the point.

The Point

The point here is this: I wasn’t told when to expect the courier who was coming to pick up my sample, I wasn’t given any confirmation that the courier had delivered my sample, and the day after my sample should have arrived at the lab, HALO’s customer service couldn’t find any evidence of it being delivered. That’s inexcusably terrible service.

Bottom Line

There are a lot of UK companies offering pre-departure testing (both for home delivery and at various airports around the country) and you can get a discount on the price of most of these tests by using the codes supplied by British Airways (you don’t have to be flying with British Airways to use the codes), so why use a testing company whose courier service is monumentally useless and whose systems may not be able to tell you if your test has been received at the lab?

I’ll be more than happy to use the HALO test the next time I’m staying at the Sofitel T5 because that test appears to use a different courier service (tests are delivered to the lab on the day they’re taken) and results are always available the day after a test is taken, but I’ve taken my last HALO home test. I’ll either use another home test provider or I’ll fall back on the more expensive (but much quicker) test at Heathrow the next time I fly.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. I too had a poor experience due to the courier service Halo used. We ordered a test for three days prior to departure but the courier service couldn’t specify when they were going to pick up ( any time between 8am and 6pm) we did the test early to ensure that it was ready for the courier. He turned up in an anonymous white van and didn’t even know what he was collecting or provide a receipt. It didn’t fill me with confidence. The following day we had not received a result from the lab and when we phoned towards the end of the day they had only just received the sample! When we woke up the following morning the test results had popped up but when I checked the certificate it was actually time stamped (I didn’t appreciate this would be the case) and this would put us in excess of the 72 hour limit for arriving at our holiday destination! So the test was an expensive waste of time for us. As you say, the test is good but the courier service is rubbish and devalues the entire proposition.

  2. I had exactly the same issue. They are crooks. Very unhelpful and actually ended up costing me hundreds of pounds as I missed my flight to test actually getting lost! I want to know how I can leave a review so people know not to use them!

Comments are closed.

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