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BinaxNOW Rapid Self-Tests Banned By Emirates For U.S. Bound Travelers Flying From Dubai

BinaxNOW Rapid Self-Tests Banned By Emirates For U.S. Bound Travelers Flying From Dubai

Emirates has told passengers flying direct from Dubai to the United States that they cannot use rapid antigen COVID-19 tests to comply with pre-departure testing rules even though these types of tests are authorized for travel by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The ban means that U.S. travelers who have invested in the popular Abbott BinaxNOW self-test kit through eMed will not be allowed to use the test to fulfil pre-departure testing requirements when flying with Emirates from Dubai to any destination in the United States.

Passengers are instead advised by Emirates to provide proof of a negative PCR test taken within one day of departure. Thankfully, PCR testing facilities are easy to come by in Dubai and tests results are usually supplied within a few hours.

It’s not entirely clear why Emirates has decided to ban people from using self-tests on U.S. bound flights but Dubai has invested heavily in its PCR testing infrastructure and has largely shunned rapid antigen testing and at-home testing options.

The emirate does, at least, now offer self-testing options (the popular Panbio antigen test is actually made by Abbott) but these are not cleared for travel.

For U.S.-bound passengers, the Abbott BinaxNOW test is only accepted for travel when sold as the BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag proctored version through eMed. The kits are usually sold as a pack of six for $150 but even this investment is significantly cheaper than seeking out individual tests for a family or for a frequent flyer.

eMed warns that some airlines may restrict the use of the BinaxNOW test for travel even if it’s compliant with CDC rules.

Emirates does, however, let passengers heading to the U.S. use the test if they are simply transiting through Dubai from another country. The same applies to customers flying with Emirates on one of its fifth freedom U.S.-bound flights from Athens and Milan.

One of the reasons that the CDC approved the use of rapid antigen tests for travel was that they are cheaper and more accessible than PCR tests which require expensive laboratory equipment. This is especially important given that the CDC reduced the timeframe for a negative test to just one day from departure.

View Comments (10)
  • Luckily PCR tests in Dubai are cheap. We paid around $30 USD for a 12 hr response. The test site was open 24/7 as well.

    It’s actually cheaper than some places selling the Binax kits.

  • I think you mean BinaxNow-Ag Card tests are no longer allowed by Emirates. BinaxNOW tests have never been authorized for entry into the U.S. from any country.

    • I mean, it’s literally the same test but in different packaging but yes, I’ve included the ‘Ag’ part. Obviously, important to note that the only BinaxNOW test authorized for travel is the one that comes from eMed and that is highlighted in the article.

    • BinaxNow with eMed is also sold in a pack of 2 for $69.99. I used this to reenter the US 2 weeks ago. Please correct the info in the article.

  • This is very strange and quite a hassle. Emirates itself doesn’t require testing for its other flights – it’s merely enforcing each arrival country’s rules. In this case, the CDC allows BinaxNow results proctored by eMed for entry into the USA. If it’s good enough for connecting pax and good enough for pax from ATH and MXP, it should be good enough for pax originating in Dubai. It sounds like this is just a money grab for their testing partners.

  • Biggest issue is a PCR test can still show positive after you’ve already recovered, why some state health departments do not require a second PCR to show recovery because can still pop Covid when you’re over it

  • Just left Dubai on 1/8. Used the Binax now Ag, but the ticketing agent had to call his supervisor to get the OK. Pretty tense few minutes. He kept asking, “where was the test taken?” I told him it was collected here, but “processed by a US lab,” and proctored by who knows where. The US lab thing seemed to satisfy him, and we got our boarding passes. I personally had difficulty finding a place to do a 24 hour PCR test, and actually got ripped off by one place which no showed. I filed a complaint with the DOT, so hopefully Emirates will conform to the actual US requirements. I don’t have a problem with Emirates not allowing antigen tests, but they shouldn’t misquote or misinterpret US requirements which specifically allow them. Regardless, probably my last trip to the Emirates, so a moot point. BTW, loved the Emirates exhibit at the Expo.

  • For those that were just in DXB, I’m heading there in a few weeks. Can you list out recommendations for good testing facilities?

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