Airline 'travel pass' app will show COVID test results, vaccination

Airline industry group IATA launches a digital platform to ease virus testing and travel.

By Bloomberg News, November 24 2020
Airline 'travel pass' app will show COVID test results, vaccination

Global airline lobby IATA is working on a mobile app that will help travelers demonstrate their coronavirus-free status, joining a push to introduce so-called 'COVID passports' as vaccines for the disease near approval.

The Travel Pass will display test results together with proof of inoculation, as well as listing national entry rules and details on the nearest labs, the International Air Transport Association said Monday. The app will also link to an electronic copy of the holder’s passport to prove their identity.

A test program will begin with British Airways' parent IAG this year before arriving on Apple devices in the first quarter and Android from April, IATA said.

Travelers will be able to share their status with border authorities or present a QR code for scanning.

The announcement came as Qantas Group CEO and former IATA chairman Alan Joyce said the airline would make vaccination compulsory for passengers on international flights from 2021 through the adoption of a digital "vaccination passport".

Also read: Qantas CEO flags mandatory COVID vaccination for international flights

Covid-safe travel? There's an app for that

While international travel remains in the doldrums amid a patchwork of local restrictions and lockdowns, countries are beginning to embrace testing to shorten or do away with quarantines for arriving passengers.

The first vaccines are meanwhile expected to become available in coming months.

That’s prompted a spate of technology-led moves to devise mechanisms to monitor travelers’ COVID credentials and combat false claims from people desperate to fly.

IATA’s head of passenger and security products, Alan Murray Hayden, said in a briefing that the group’s aim is to get people into the air again and that it would be happy to work alongside other providers.

How IATA's Travel Pass app will work.
How IATA's Travel Pass app will work.

Travel Pass will be free to travelers and governments, with airlines paying a small fee per passenger to use the service.

It will be based on the existing IATA Timatic system long used to verify documents. The app will use block-chain technology and won’t store data, Murray Hayden said.

The industry group has had positive discussions with one government around using the software and expects other nations to get on board, he said.

Uptick in preflight testing

Though IATA’s plan remains in development, the CommonPass app developed by the World Economic Forum and non-profit Commons Project Foundation has been tested on flights between London and New York, while the AOKpass from travel security firm International SOS is in use between Abu Dhabi and Pakistan.

Both are in the running for the pending travel bubble between Hong Kong and Singapore, according to the companies.

United Airlines, which is conducting the U.S.-U.K. trials, said Monday it would extend Covid testing to flights from Houston to destinations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Passengers can take a self-collected, mail-in test, allowing them to start their vacation or meetings immediately on arrival.

The race is on to establish a global standard and deploy technology so the travel industry can get back on its feet, International SOS co-founder Arnaud Vaissie said in an interview.

“There is massive pent-up demand,” he said. There’s also “tremendous fear about traveling and this is what we are trying to mitigate.”

Also read: Qantas CEO flags mandatory COVID vaccination for international flights

Additional reporting by David Flynn

This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here


19 Apr 2012

Total posts 1423

Does the display the reliability of the test. I’m sure it doesn’t.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Oct 2014

Total posts 692

American Airlines (AA) is already using VeriFLY (available on both the Apple i-Store and the Google Play Store. 

The app, VeriFLY, by software firm Daon, allows real-time verification of COVID-19 related credentials, such as diagnostic lab test results, and aims to streamline the check-in and verification process at the airport.


09 May 2020

Total posts 570

Depends on how much you trust the IATA and it’s (most likely outsourced) app developers to handle your data, blockchain or not unless there is some other security measures, the test lab provider will also have data that provide sufficient information to connect the dots to your passport.

The weakest link to most security system is the people running it.

How much to you trust IATA, the app developers or the pathology providers in keeping your confidential information? It’s one thing to have info to create a identity card (the closest we have in Australia is Drivers License and Medicare card) it’s another thing when it involves passport information.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 462

This is no different from now though - any airline you fly on, or hotel you stay in, has your passport info on file.


17 Jan 2018

Total posts 84

Not all countries/hotels demand a passport and don't forget domestic travellers and Airbnb

05 Oct 2017

Total posts 517

True, not all. However, the majority of hotels/domestic airlines will ask for a passport from a foreign national, though depending on the country, if you happen to have a local driver's licence or sometimes even an Australian driver's licence, that is often accepted too. For countries, as an Australian citizen you will need a passport to enter EVERY other country, including New Zealand. The only exceptions to the passport rule are specific situations like

1) EU/Schengen nationals travelling within the Schengen passport free travel zone (they can use their national ID cards or some other equivalent instead);

2) citizens of the USA/Canada/Mexico and several Caribbean countries travelling within each other's country for short trips; however, a passport has been required for several years now for travel by air and even most land based travel too. A border crossing card is acceptable for short hops across the US/Canadian/Mexican border by citizens of these countries last time I checked but this may have since changed.

3) citizens of various countries in Asia (possibly Africa/Latin America as well) travelling across shared borders on day passes/short term passes (aka border passes). These passes usually only permit travel in a limited radius from the border, and typically the holder must return through the same border crossing as the one entered. I don't know how it works in Africa or Latin America, but in Asia I'm very familiar with the process.

A Thai national for instance can use their national ID card (or another acceptable document) to make a border pass that allows them to cross to Myanmar from Kanchanaburi province and travel to Dawei and surrounding areas 150km away, spending 2 weeks there. They must return the same way they came and technically aren't allowed to travel to other cities. Heading north, there is a checkpoint where they will be stopped if they try. Other crossings have similar rules, although some limit travel further. A Lao national travelling to Thailand, China, Cambodia or Vietnam will find similar rules in place - they may be able to spend up to 3 days and 2 nights on a border pass or sometimes longer and limited to a particular province or two in the neighboring country. Only a passport allows complete freedom of movement throughout the country and using a different border crossing to depart.

For hotels, I don't see it happening for small, family owned hotels or motels though. Perhaps the big 3, 4 and 5 star international chains like Marriott, Ibis, Sheraton etc. will. AirBNB might impose conditions of their own. I checked the other day and apparently there is now a policy where both guests and hosts must wear face masks as a condition of interaction. I don't know how they enforce this, but strictly speaking this applies worldwide, even in the few jurisdictions where face masks are not mandatory (such as Sweden, Belarus, Australian states/territories except Victoria and Adelaide and a few others). So if AirBNB can impose a face mask requirement, I don't think it will be difficult for them to require this sort of pass in the future.

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