BA to trial Travel Pass app for COVID tests, vaccination next month

Passengers on selected British Airways flights will be the first to use the airline's new 'digital health pass'.

By David Flynn, January 28 2021
BA to trial Travel Pass app for COVID tests, vaccination next month
Executive Traveller exclusive

British Airways will soon begin trialing a new digital 'Travel Pass' designed to store the results of COVID-19 tests and proof of vaccination for airlines and government authorities.

BA is the latest airline to embrace the IATA Travel Pass, developed by the International Air Transport Association with the aim of becoming a global standard to help restart travel and potentially replace mandatory quarantine.

Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways are also participating in trials of what IATA calls its 'digital health pass', with Singapore Airlines planning to integrate Travel Pass functionality into its own mobile app around mid-2021 on the expectation that "COVID-19 tests and vaccinations will be an integral part of air travel for the foreseeable future."

A spokesperson for IATA has confirmed to Executive Traveller that British Airways will begin its own Travel Pass trials "mid-February," adding that "the trial will be on certain routes".

IATA announced in November that it was working with British Airways parent IAG in the development of Travel Pass, which it describes as being built on "four open-sourced and interoperable modules":

  • Global registry of health requirements: enables passengers to find accurate information on travel, testing and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey.
  • Global registry of testing / vaccination centres: enables passengers to find testing centres and labs at their departure location which meet the standards for testing and vaccination requirements of their destination.
  • Lab App: enables authorised labs and test centres to securely share test and vaccination certificates with passengers.
  • Contactless Travel App: enables passengers to (1) create a ‘digital passport’, (2) receive test and vaccination certificates and verify that they are sufficient for their itinerary, and (3) share testing or vaccination certificates with airlines and authorities to facilitate travel. This app can also be used by travellers to manage travel documentation digitally and seamlessly throughout their journey, improving travel experience.
How IATA's Travel Pass app will work.
How IATA's Travel Pass app will work.

"Testing is the first key to enable international travel without quarantine measures" says Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

"The second key is the global information infrastructure needed to securely manage, share and verify test data matched with traveler identities in compliance with border control requirements. That’s the job of IATA Travel Pass."

The trial will land alongside the UK's introduction of mandatory 10-day hotel isolation for travellers arriving from high-risk countries in an attempt to halt the spread of newly-identified COVID-19 strains which are proving far more contagious than their parent.

Also read: Vaccination to be compulsory for all Qantas international flights


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.