Local man warns of COVID testing delay when preparing for a flight

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – COVID-related travel requirements are constantly changing and they vary depending on where you’re heading.

The Albuquerque Sunport has a testing center to make it easy on passengers. But one customer is urging other passengers to do their own research before signing up.

“Since I was going out of the country, I thought, I want some assurance that I’m not sitting here on pins and needles waiting for the test results,” said Brian Worthen, an Albuquerque resident heading to Canada this week.

He decided not to chance things and pay extra for the COVID tests at the airport offered by Southwest Labs.

He went in Sunday to get it in time for his Wednesday morning flight.

“It was cash or credit card, for the express test, which they said was next day service, was $210,” said Worthen. “So I thought it’s worth it to me to go ahead and pay that money and be assured that I will make the flight.”

But then he discovered they don’t process tests on Sunday and Monday was Labor Day. So his expedited test wouldn’t be processed until Tuesday, cutting it close for his Wednesday morning flight. The results weren’t expected back until Wednesday evening.

“I think there’s an assumption that people make when they see an express service, there’s no disclaimers that you think, ‘I’m good to go, I’m set to fly,” said Worthen.

Representatives with Southwest Labs said this was a rare set of events. But they said because they are local, they are easily accessible.

The Chief Medical Officer with Southwest Labs said "although there are rare miscommunications, our team addresses all concerns that come from our patients, businesses and the network of providers we serve.”

“Very good customer service response, I have to say,” said Worthen.

They’ve refunded Worthen and promised to get his results on time – while also reminding passengers to double-check the requirements for each destination well in advance.