While I have a couple of “PCR professionals” in my circle of contacts, it took me until December 2020 until I had my first PCR test, necessary for a flight to Gran Canaria / Grand Canary. As I felt this might be an interesting experience, I gather my thoughts about it, some general hints and a review about Centogene at Dusseldorf Airport, where I did the test, into this posting. Hope you enjoy.
As this posting might be medically sensitive, I decided just to use pictures of the location, while it was closed – thus, you do not really see, how the thing is running in action. Hope I illustrate it well by my posting, though.
Covid-19 Testing for Travel – General Remarks
When I in fact flew from Dusseldorf to Las Palmas Airport, the queues at Eurowings were massive – not due to the fact that the check-in was understaffed or the check-in agents were lousy, but simply due to the fact that many people could not provide sufficient paperwork for their flights. At the time of writing, mid-December 2020, if you need a Covid-19 test certificate to be allowed to travel into another country, you should thus be aware that, for most countries, the rules are more or less as follows:
- You typically need to have a PCR test. At least in Germany, there are more and more quick testing facilities, which give you a result within 15 minutes – but they are working with the less reliable antigene tests. Most countries do not accept these
- You need to have your identity checked at the test. During my test in Dusseldorf, I had to provide my passport and my details became part of the certificate. This is essential (otherwise, somebody else could have done your test). This limits the selection of laboratories significantly!
- The tests are just accepted for a certain time interval. For my Canary Islands trip, the test shall not be later than 72 hours at the time you check in at your hotel (!). Some countries have rules like 48 hours before arrival in the country. If you bear in mind that some labs take up to 24 hours for the test and you have a couple of hours flight time, this may already be quite challenging.
- Most countries just accept certain languages. For example, the Canary Islands accept English and Spanish. I plan to go to Dubai soon, where the certificate either needs to be English or Arabic. There is no chance to get a certificate in your local language and get it translated within the short time frames (see above).
- A few countries allow you to take the test in their country – but that would mean that you take a risk to be quarantined (with a positive result) at arrival. I would personally avoid that under all circumstances. Quarantine definitely sucks – but it is even worse when you are far away from home.
- Please check your health insurance. Even though I have several international health insurances (e.g. by credit cards), none of them covers pandemics. Thus, I enrolled to another health insurance for the sake of traveling under these conditions. It is still comparably cheap, less than 20 Euro cover the risk of needing to be hospitalized or having altered return flights. For some countries, an appropriate health insurance is mandatory.
- Stay informed. Rules change rapidly nowadays. I generally recommend to use reliable source like websites maintained by your own government. Dubai, for example, has specific rules for UK and German travelers – if you happen to have another European passport, you might not be in line with the rules you found on a German or British website, in that case.
- Be at the airport very early – you can finally only care about your own stuff, not that the others are well-prepared.
For the Canary Islands, by the way, you are automatically insured by the islands, who have agreed with an insurance company to protect all their tourists (which is finally a nice way of doing marketing – might be that other destinations will do something similar soon).
At the time of writing, in the Cologne / Dusseldorf area, there were just two or three providers of Covid-19 tests, who fulfilled all the requirements listed above.
Centogene Dusseldorf Airport – Location
Centogene drives multiple labs in Germany. There are four at airports (Frankfurt, Hamburg, Dusseldorf and Berlin) and two additional ones (Rostock, Wiesbaden). Dusseldorf’s test center is located in Terminal C on departure / check-in level. The laboratory is close to the Federal Police Station – the registration and payment procedure (I would, however, highly recommend to pre-register and pre-pay online) is located in close distance closer towards the check-in counters.
The facility is open from 7:00 to 21:00 hrs daily, including Sundays. However, at some holidays like Christmas, there are reduced times.
Centogene Dusseldorf Airport – Registration
As said above, you should ideally register online and create a profile on Centogene’s Covid-19 testing website. One profile can handle multiple people, so that you can manage the tests of your whole family centrally. The profile contains your basic personal data and – if you need a PCR test for traveling – you may also already prepare your passport data there. The Covid-19 portal also allows you to review your test results, once the tests are performed.
The portal also allows you to pay for a new test. You need to select a test location, i.e. you cannot pay for a test in Dusseldorf and then go to their Frankfurt facility. A PCR Test is 59 Euro. If you need to have verification of your identity (for traveling), this is an additional 9 Euro. Thus, my test was an overall of 68 Euro. Centogene guarantees that 95 per cent of their Dusseldorf tests are completed within 24 hours. However, there is no express test for a higher fee as they offer in Frankfurt. As far as I understood, the key reason for that is that is that the samples are brought from Dusseldorf to Frankfurt to be analyzed there.
Centogene Dusseldorf Airport – The Test
As it was my first test and I had to work the same day, I went to the airport very early. On an ordinary, i.e. no school holidays etc., Friday, I arrived at the test center at about 6:40 hrs, twenty minutes before opening. I thus have been fifth in line for the testing. At 7:00 hrs, there have been some twenty people in the line. The website and some reports say that during very peak times, you should at least allow for 90 minutes waiting time. The cashier desk is also opening at 7:00 hrs – thus, you will definitely be at the end of the line when you are only and haven’t paid online beforehand.
Your first step is a reception desk, where your payment receipt is checked as well as a first view into your passport is taken (likely, in order to be sure that you got all stuff with you). You are then joining another waiting like (which is technically quite long) for the test itself – of course, I did not have to wait too long.
Tested after eleven minutes
At 7:11, eleven minutes after the test center opened, I already had my test done. Behind the counter, there are four cabins. While most of the other staff is wearing basic protection equipment, the sample-takers are of course in full protection equipment. Once a cabin is available, you are guided to it, the sample-taker is coming to you within a few minutes. Your sample is during your attendance equipped with a QR code and you receive a receipt about it with the sample number. You see how the sample is put into the container, the staff is then checking your passport / identity, if necessary.
During the whole testing procedure, the staff was really caring and friendly. I really felt safe and welcome and relaxed. The test is taken in your throat. It is not the nicest feeling you will have in your life and there is a certain tendency of throwing up (as every time something touches your throat), but overall, the overall procedure was as pleasant as it could be.
Centogene Dusseldorf Airport – Result
Once your result is available, you receive an e-mail. In general, I have to say that I love the electronic communication of the Centogene portal – I even received a privacy warning when I created my initial profile on the desktop, but then used my laptop for payment.
The test result is in the portal, you may select between (currently) twelve currencies to create it – which is of course super-convenient for international travel. As said, my test has been taken at 7:11 hrs in the morning – it took Centogene less than ten hours until I had my result – which I felt is really amazing.
Centogene Dusseldorf Airport – My View
Taking a PCR test is a necessary, not an enjoyable procedure, of course. Still, I have to say that I really enjoyed the procedure at Centogene Dusseldorf Airport. The online portal is perfect, the staff was super-friendly, everything felt very professional. The price was absolutely reasonable and the processing time really fast – so that there is hardly anything I can criticize. Great performance!
Design of the Centogene website is protected by the company.
Covid-19 Postings on Flyctory.com
Here are all postings related to the 2020 Covid-19 crisis:
Flyctory.com in Dusseldorf
Here are all my postings about Dusseldorf: