The IATA Travel Pass app, which stores Covid test and vaccine statuses, is gaining traction among airlines as they look to make flying easier during the pandemic. Olivia Palamountain reports
Flying today is fraught with ever-changing advice, restrictions, testing requirements and anxiety. But for those able to travel, help is at hand in the form of IATA’s Travel Pass, now being adopted by airlines worldwide.
This nifty app provides a secure system for passengers to manage their Covid-19 testing and vaccination information digitally, in one place, and ensure safe travel between countries by standardising health verification through a credible platform.
Both Korean Air and Qatar Airways customers are now joining the likes of Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and Etihad in trialling the system. On March 11, Qatar Airways’ customers flying from Doha to Istanbul were invited to test it out. The airline says will offer “a more safe, secure and contactless experience for travellers”.In the case of Korean Air, it will first be available on the carrier’s Incheon-Los Angeles KE011 flight in May after an internal test in April. As part of the goal to “Test and Fly,” passengers can take a Covid-19 antigen test at the Incheon airport’s testing centre, and receive their results within an hour on the Travel Pass mobile app.
“We believe the digital travel pass will improve customer experience for passengers as they can share health information in a convenient and secure manner, and save processing time at the airports,” says Korean Air’s chief customer service officer, Seungbum Lee. “Korean Air will continue its efforts to provide a safe and seamless travel experience through initiatives such as the travel pass.”
Commenting on the news, Qatar Airways’ group CEO Akbar Al Baker, says: “We have confidence in the credibility of the IATA Travel Pass as the industry’s most reliable and innovative solution given its strong data privacy compliance, long-standing entry rules engine and ability to provide an end-to-end solution. We are proud to be at the forefront of trialling this platform, being one of the first globally and the first airline in the Middle East to trial the technology.
“With the strictest data privacy regulations, IATA Travel Pass is a huge step towards proving that ICAO’s global standards for digital passports do work. It will also assist in laying the foundation for governments across the world to come together in the development of standardised regulations to reduce the current patchwork of red tape across the international travel industry.
“In partnership with the World Health Organisation, IATA is also engaged in helping to define a standardised vaccine certificate that will be necessary for the opening of borders and scalable increase of global travel.”IATA director general and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, says: “Qatar Airways’ full deployment of IATA Travel Pass is a significant milestone in restarting global connectivity. Governments are requiring testing or vaccination certifications to enable travel and the IATA travel app helps travellers to securely and conveniently manage and provide their credentials.”
He adds: “All passengers using IATA Travel Pass can be confident that their data is protected and governments can trust that the “OK to travel” means both a genuine credential and a verified identity,”
The IATA Travel Pass and others like it (think CommonPass, which has been tested on flights between London and New York, AOKpass, in use between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan, V-Health Passport and BA’s Verifly app) are vital because paper vaccination certifications or Covid-19 test results are difficult for governments to validate, and can force immigration procedures to take longer. There is also the possibility of paper certificates being forged.