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Air Canada & Switch Health Introduce New COVID‑19 Testing Options

One of the major challenges facing Canadian travellers who embark on international trips is the requirement to present a negative molecular test within 72 hours of flying back to Canada. 

Today, Air Canada has launched a new partnership with Canadian healthcare company Switch Health to address this challenge and simplify travellers’ journeys. 

Air Canada and Switch Health have launched a series of portable molecular and antigen testing kits (including self-administered testing kits) that can be used all around the world, with preferred pricing available for Aeroplan members.

New Switch Health COVID-19 Test Kits

Depending on the testing requirements of the countries you are entering or returning to on your journey, you can choose from one of three new testing options by Switch Health:

  • Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Test Kit (1 test)
  • Switch Health COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit (2 tests)
  • Switch Health COVID-19 RT-PCR Test Kit (1 test)

The three tests may be ordered online on the Switch Health website or through the Aeroplan eStore. 

Each test is performed in the comfort of your home or accommodations, meaning that you won’t have to worry about taking time out of your day to visit a testing facility. The tests are performed on devices that are included in the packages.

Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Test Kit

Perhaps the most exciting offering out of the three test kits from a Canadian traveller’s perspective, the Switch Health RT-LAMP Test Kit satisfies the Government of Canada’s requirement for a negative molecular test taken within 72 hours of boarding a test back to Canada.

This means that travellers can order the RT-LAMP Test Kit before leaving Canada, pack the kit in their luggage, embark on their trip, and self-administer the test within 72 hours of their return flight. 

The test will be taken under the supervision of a Telehealth professional, and results will be available within 45 minutes, along with an official electronic report suitable for travel.

By bringing along the Switch Health COVID-19 RT-LAMP Test Kit, Canadians will no longer need to take time out of their trips to seek out foreign testing facilities prior to returning to Canada, reducing a major source of potential headache in this new era of international travel.

Switch Health COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit

The Switch Health Antigen Test Kit comes with two antigen tests, which are suitable for entry into the United States. Antigen tests are not accepted by the Government of Canada for the purpose of entering Canada via a commercial flight.

Like the RT-LAMP Test Kit, the Antigen Test Kit is portable and self-administered under the supervision of a Telehealth professional. 

Canadians who are travelling to the United States might opt to order, say, both an Antigen Test Kit and an RT-LAMP Test Kit. The antigen test would be taken prior to the outbound flight to the US, while the RT-LAMP Test Kit is packed for the trip, to be self-administered prior to the return flight to Canada.

Switch Health COVID-19 RT-PCR Test Kit

Lastly, the Switch Health RT-PCR Test Kit is also available for purchase, and may be used to satisfy the entry requirements of certain countries that require pre-flight PCR tests, such as many Caribbean countries, the Maldives, French Polynesia, and more. 

While the RT-PCR Test Kit can be self-administered under a Telehealth professional’s supervision, the test results must be sent to a Canadian lab for analysis (return shipping is included in the test kit’s cost). Therefore, the RT-PCR Test Kit is best ordered and taken prior to departing Canada.

Still, the Switch Health RT-PCR Test Kit may be a lot more convenient than visiting a testing lab in-person, especially in the busy few days leading up to a trip. 

Preferred Pricing for Aeroplan Members

Under Air Canada and Switch Health’s partnership, Aeroplan members receive preferred pricing and bonus Aeroplan points for purchasing these test kits:

  • RT-LAMP Test Kit (1 test): $149 plus tax + Earn 500 Aeroplan points
  • Antigen Test Kit (2 tests): $79 plus tax + Earn 500 Aeroplan points
  • RT-PCR Test Kit (1 test): $159 plus tax + Earn 1,000 Aeroplan points

For all three test kits, express shipping within 1–3 business days is included. Overnight shipping is available for an extra $10 on the Antigen Test Kit or an extra $15 on the RT-LAMP and RT-PCR Test Kits. 

These prices are favourable compared to traditional testing options in Canada and abroad, especially once you factor in the convenience of a self-administered portable test kit.

For example, the $149 price point for the RT-LAMP Test Kit is comparable to what you can expect to pay for a PCR test in a foreign country, but that’s outweighed by sheer convenience and reduced stress of being able to take the test from the comfort of your accommodations and a very quick 45-minute turnaround for results.

Meanwhile, the $79 price point for a set of two antigen tests is on par with the cheapest antigen testing options we have in Canada (for example, $40 antigen tests at Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario), and it’s available across all of Canada with no need to visit an in-person testing site. 

Redeem Aeroplan Points for Switch Health Test Kits

In addition to the above price points for the Switch Health test kits, Aeroplan members may also redeem Aeroplan points for test kits via the Aeroplan eStore:

  • RT-LAMP Test Kit (1 test): 25,700 Aeroplan points (value of 0.58 cents per point)
  • Antigen Test Kit (2 tests): 14,100 Aeroplan points (value of 0.56 cents per point)
  • RT-PCR Test Kit (1 test): 26,900 Aeroplan points (value of 0.59 cents per point)

Needless to say, redeeming Aeroplan points for 0.56–0.59 cents per point is a terrible value proposition. 

Save your Aeroplan points for the actual high-value flights that’ll get you to your destination, and pay cash for the test kits that’ll help you enter – especially since you’ll be earning some bonus Aeroplan points while you’re at it. 

Conclusion

The Government of Canada’s requirement for a negative molecular test within 72 hours of boarding a flight to Canada remains an obstacle in the path of many would-be international travellers. 

To address this, Air Canada and Switch Health have linked up to offer Canadians convenient and stress-free portable testing solutions that can be taken anywhere in the world. 

I’m very encouraged to see Air Canada taking the initiative and finding innovative solutions to simplify Canadian travellers’ journeys and make it possible for more of us to start crossing borders again. I look forward to making use of the Switch Health RT-LAMP test on my next international trip in the near future. 

Meanwhile, our contributor T.J. recently had the opportunity to trial the Switch Health RT-LAMP test for himself, and he will be following up this article shortly with a first-hand account of his experience using the RT-LAMP test to satisfy Canada’s entry requirements. 

16 Comments
  1. Alex Thompson

    I purchased a Rapid Antigen kit (2 tests) on Monday night, they were delivered to us on Wednesday (plus my 500 Aeroplan points were instantly credited to my account). We did the tests on Friday afternoon and had the negative certificates on our phones within 5 minutes of scanning and uploading the results to Switch. We each waited less than 5 minutes for the telehealth rep to guide us through the test. What a difference from dealing with Switch back in May!!! This was a great experience and had no problems checking in with Air Canada to fly to California on Sunday morning. Big pat on the back to Air Canada/Aeroplan for making this available to their customers. The lady in the aisle seat had ordered 2 Lamp tests, one for her return from California and the other for next month’s return from Mexico. Easy!

  2. Shannon

    According to the Public Health Agency this is a self-test and does NOT meet the requirements for entry to Canada. Air Canada cheating the system as usual.

  3. BigG

    Lamp test sold out in 24 hours . Got a couple delivered in 24 hours . I hope it will work . Last time I did a switch Heath test the online que was 4 hours . Hope it’s better now .

  4. MRichter

    No guarantees. Directly from the purchasing web page: four days (96hrs. ) for results is too late. “When can I expect my results? Depending on your geographic region, results will come within two-four days after your specimen is picked up or dropped off.”

  5. Alex

    Too expensive.
    A family of 4 will shed $600 for this – a LOT of money!
    Most places overseas charge way less.
    Israel – around 90 NIS ($0 CAD-ish)
    Mexico (Riviera Maya) – $65-70 USD
    France (Paris) – 60EUR
    And so on and so forth.
    The initiative is good – the price isn’t.

  6. Sooshi

    I just contacted them and they said their test does not meet the 72 hour turn around time

  7. Leslie

    Can this be used to drive over the border to the US and also to return home to Canada?

  8. Himanshu

    Do these tests expire or can I stock up on them months in advance (have a US trip in early Dec)?

  9. Trevor

    Switch Health has been a nightmare to deal with. I’m waiting for the day when some investigative journalist uncovers the very likely nepotism behind their first-of-line wins lately.

    I cannot understand how such an incompetent company has won any contract or deal.

  10. Siddharth Sharma

    What about a trip to India. As of now, the only lab in India acceptable for Covid test is the one at the Delhi Airport. If I take the RT-LAMP, with me and do the test in India less than 18 hrs before my flight (the required time frame by Canada), would that be acceptable since the test result is technically from a Canadian lab?

  11. andrea

    Another valuable information articles, a must read for Canadian travelers. Keep up the good work, Ricky and the crew.

  12. Teddy

    Fingers crossed they get rid of the PCR requirement for Canadian citizens returning home – there was a bit of noise on that a couple of weeks…

    This is a good option for now.

  13. thereisnoaddress

    This is definitely great! For short weekend trips, I could just do the RT Lamp test and enter both the US and come back to Canada for $149. Definitely not as cheap as a $40 AG test + whatever free PCR testing option in the US, but takes out all the stress and time wasting out of the equation; it’s great to have my negative results to come back to Canada before even leaving Canada. Will consider getting one for my next trip.

    1. Teddy

      For what it’s worth – my boss did a PCR test in Canada (medcan) – for the same type of trip you described – and was told at the Canadian border that the test had to be administered in the country you were entering from – i.e. the US…. it caused a big long delay – and much confusion. They eventually let him thru.

      1. T.J. YQQ

        The Canadian government confirms on their website that you can indeed take a test in Canada for trips of less than 72 hours to the United States:

        https://travel.gc.ca/travel-covid/travel-restrictions/flying-canada-checklist/covid-19-testing-travellers-coming-into-canada

        “For short trips that are less than 72 hours, Canadian citizens, people registered under the Indian Act, permanent residents and protected persons travelling to the United States are allowed to do their pre-entry molecular test before they leave Canada.”

      2. Sam

        You cant use any self administered telehealth tests for French Polynesia.

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