How to fly home if you test positive for Covid


Even the most meticulously organized vacation can be derailed by a positive Covid test.

Travelers may face unexpected quarantines — either in hotels or state-owned facilities — or substandard medical services. Others may be denied the ability to take commercial flights or, if negative tests are required to return, to get home at all.

Travel insurance can help defray quarantine and medical costs incurred abroad. But for those who want to fly home fast, that isn’t good enough.

How to fly home after testing positive

Launched in the spring of 2020, Covac Global transports people home if they have been diagnosed with Covid while traveling domestically or abroad.

The team behind the company also operates a crisis response firm called HRI, which conducts security risk and “traditional medical” evacuations, said CEO Ross Thompson.

The goal of Covac Global is to get our members home at the first sign of infection.

Ross Thompson

CEO, Covac Global

“No other solution on the market would transport you or cover a pandemic or contagious disease,” he said. “Now a few do, but they all either have geographic restrictions and require you to be hospitalized or that it is medically necessary for you to be evacuated.”

Evacuations are triggered when a traveler tests positive for Covid and exhibits at least one symptom of the disease, which can be self-reported, said Thompson. Hospitalizations aren’t required.

Covac Global returns travelers to their homes or to a local hospital — not the closest port of entry — and arranges flight doctors and land and air ambulances, too.

“Going to the Covid-19 ward in a foreign hospital is a bad idea, both medically and psychologically,” he said. “The goal of Covac Global is to get our members home at the first sign of infection.”

Covac Global has completed dozens of evacuations in the past year, from European cities to the Peruvian Andes, said CEO Ross Thompson.

Courtesy of Covac Global

What about CDC test requirements?

Covac Global works directly with resorts and villa rental companies, including Exceptional Villas, Hermitage Bay Antigua and Jamaica’s Tryall Club (shown here).

Courtesy of The Tryall Club

“This is the only way a positive Covid-19 patient can enter the U.S.,” said Thompson. “We have had many people call up if a charter or even their own aircraft will be able to bring them home, and the answer is no.”

The Tryall Club in Jamaica partnered with Covac Global to ensure guests had “every option” available to them while on vacation, said Arla Vernon Gordon, a director at the all-villa resort.

Since February, nearly 40 guests have enrolled in the program but to date “no guest has had to use the service,” she said.

A cheaper option for travelers who get really ill

Global Rescue has signed up more clients and partners since the onset of the pandemic than in the company’s entire 16-year history.

Dan Richards

CEO, Global Rescue

Evacuations are to hospitals (not homes) in members’ home countries, and there are no Covid-related exclusions, such as vacationing on cruise ships, said Global Rescue’s CEO Dan Richards.

Short-term memberships start at $119 for individuals and $199 for families (which includes a spouse and up to six dependents).

Global Rescue provides medical evacuation services for NASA and the United States Postal Service.

Courtesy of Global Rescue

“Global Rescue has signed up more clients and partners since the onset of the pandemic than in the company’s entire 16-year history,” he said.  

Logistics involving Covid evacuations can “get tricky,” said Richards, adding that Global Rescue has evacuated Covid cases from remote regions, including a severe case from Guam to the United States.

For travelers in North and Central America

It can be just as difficult to be stuck in a hospital five states away as it is to be stuck in one halfway around the world.

The company added Covid-related services in October of 2020, he said.

“Unlike travel insurance, we have no specific exclusions like adventure travel, motorcycles, paragliding … so cruises are not excluded either,” Hallman told CNBC.

“We were also able to get a member home from Australia early on in the pandemic, during the global level 4 travel shutdown,” he said. “That had a lot of complications, but we worked it out and got them back.”

Medjet has transportation coordinators to track evacuation flights.

Courtesy of Medjet

Memberships start around $99 for eight days of international and domestic travel coverage. People often buy memberships for “big international trips” and don’t think about them for domestic travel, said Hallman.

“It can be just as difficult to be stuck in a hospital five states away as it is to be stuck in one halfway around the world,” said Hallman.

Around half of yearly transports take place after travelers have returned from a “big trip safely and then had an accident or health episode while traveling domestically,” he said.



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