With luggage in hand, Joel Wilson waited on a long line at LaGuardia Airport Tuesday, but not to board his plane. He waited in line to get his COVID-19 test, a requirement to board his flight back to Jamaica.
“I’m still at the back of the line and I still have another 45 minutes left,” Wilson said. “I got tested two days ago, CVS, and still haven’t received my result. This is my backup."
Lines stretched the entire length of one side in the airport’s Terminal B parking garage. Many said the wait was colder and longer than they expected.
“We’ve been in line just over two hours today. It’s been moving pretty slowly,” said Johnathan Phipps, who was in line with his two children.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said flyers should get a viral or antigen test one to three days before the trip and check with the destination’s health requirements, which may be stricter. This mobile test site offers rapid antigen and non-rapid PCR testing options free to all patients with no appointments.
“Been trying to brave the cold out here with our feet freezing, ears, hands and stuff like that. Kids have been doing a good job trying to stay active to keep warm,” Phipps said.
Cold temperatures continued into Tuesday, with many in line doing what they could to stay warm and keep their spots.
“We’re doing turns coming here, going inside to warm up,” said Francesca Bechi, whose family needed test results ahead of their flight back home to Italy.
“I’m cold, I’m freezing,” said Mayda Clotter, who was traveling to Honduras with her sisters. She said she expected the testing site to make accommodations given the weather.
“It’s so cold here. They should have it some place warmer, especially today,” Clotter said.
On top of enduring frigid temperatures, many travelers said they still may not make their scheduled flights.
“I got here five hours earlier than my flight. Now, I’m going to be late,” said Ellen Harper, who was hoping to make her flight back to the United Kingdom.
The LaGuardia test site is administered by New York City Health + Hospitals Test & Trace Corps. We reached out to find out what, if anything, can be done to address the wait outside in the cold and the delays causing people to miss flights, but have not yet heard back.