Virgin CEO expects ‘vaccination passports’ for domestic travel

Could proof of vaccination be needed to fly between Australia's own states?

By David Flynn, September 17 2021
Virgin CEO expects ‘vaccination passports’ for domestic travel

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka says she expects vaccination to be mandatory for some interstate travel as states exit lockdown and reopen their borders in the months ahead.

While almost all international flights will require passengers to prove they have been fully vaccinated – typically through smartphone apps such as the Travel Pass, which can also verify the results of pre-flight Covid tests – the notion of a 'vaccination passport' for domestic flights remains contentious.

While Prime Minister Scott Morrison has championed vaccine passports as the key to unrestricted domestic travel, the premiers of NSW and Queensland – along with several federal politicians within Morrison's own government – have spoken out against the concept.

However, speaking at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event today, Hrdlicka said for Virgin's domestic travellers "in November and December (there) will need to be verification of vaccination.'

"That's my expectation – it's not been mandated yet by the Government, but I would expect that there will be some constraints with respect to first movements as borders come down."

In that same scenario "everybody is wearing a mask inside the airport and on board the aircraft, and I don't expect that will change for some time."

Hrdlicka, who was speaking from one of Virgin's still-shuttered invitation-only Club lounges, added that "for those of you who are Club members, the Club lounges will be opening once the borders start to come down... our lounges are going to be open for business, full of great food and a lot of fun."

(Hrdlicka has previously said the Club lounges at Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane would reopen "no later than the end of March 2022" as border restrictions eased, and that the airline was "committed to reopening these Club lounges earlier if borders and demand conditions allow.")

Read more: Is Virgin going to reboot The Club as a Velocity elite tier?

Get jabbed to skip state lockdowns?

PM Morrison has backed vaccination passports for quarantine-free domestic trips as a way that fully-vaccinated travellers could cross state borders in the event of subsequent lockdowns.

"Where people have been vaccinated, then they would have the opportunity, let's say they happen to be in another state, then they can return home to Victoria and not be kept out of their home state, or they may be able to move into other states and territories,” he suggested in May.

"I think that's something that Australians would support and I think it recognises the reality that states and territories, from time to time, will be making decisions which will restrict movements of Australians across the country."

That's put him at odds with fellow Liberal and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who argues that once the country reaches a vaccination rate of 80%, Australians should be able to move freely around the country irrespective of whether or not they have been vaccinated.

Digital vaccination cards are already being suggested for access to restaurants, shops and services, theatres, gyms and events once NSW exits lockdown in October.

Also read: Could the Travel Pass become Australia's vaccination passport?

ET readers: would you support proof of vaccination as a requirement for some domestic flights?

David

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.

I can understand why some people are against the idea of a vaccination passport for domestic flights, but the reality is that some states might very well demand them, and if we are going to have them used in some states anyway for shops, hairdressers, restaurants, concerts etc then what's the harm in also making them mandatory for flights? It doesn't need to be any more complicated than the Medicare app on your phone or a printed copy of your vaccination certificate, and it's yet another incentive for people to get vaccinated. What's wrong with that?

QF

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 689

I really think Qld needs to make some sort of commitment to reopening to vaccinated travels from November or there tourist industry will be stuffed. If they don’t announce something in September all those dollars will go elsewhere.

05 May 2016

Total posts 632

November is already too late for Far North Queensland. The time to be up in Far North Queensland is till about early October. Then it's heading into the wet summer season.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

Plus cyclone season Dec-April 

Still traumatised by seeing price tag of $25/kg banana in the supermarket 15 years ago 

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 303

The typical argument against needing some sort of vaccination passport for entry into all sorts of venues is that the unvaxxed would be treated like 2nd class citizens.

The very same argument was common some years ago by cigarette smokers' loss of freedom to smoke in offices, public transport, and a myriad of other places.  They complained that it was a loss of their rights and freedoms.

The real issue is that both smokers and the unvaccinated are at heightend risk to the health of other people in their vicinity.  Both cigarette smoke and Covid19 can cause serious illness to those who are closeby.

20 Oct 2015

Total posts 210

I feel sorry for people who have a legitimate medical reason why they can't be vaccinated, but for most people who can be vaccinated and should be vaccinated, if they choose not to, then to me they sort of are 'second class citizens' because they are holding back the rest of their community and endangering the very society which they're a part of.

19 Jun 2020

Total posts 18

I do not support vax passports on ethical grounds. I’m vaccinated so I’ve taken care of myself, it’s not my business what others do, and nor should it be. I really can’t abide the idea of a return to a ‘show me your papers’ system. We’ve seen that before. 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

But if you are going to be eating in that restaurant or sitting in that cinema for example then it is the business of the owners of that business to ensure you are vaccinated so as to help protect their staff and their other customers. When Sydney gets out of lockdown I will not be visiting any cafe or restaurant or wine bar for example that doesn't make vaccination a condition of entry because I want to minimise the risk to myself, in the same way that I use common sense when crossing road, driving or whatever.

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

"It should be my right to drink under the influence! It's not anyone's business if I'm drunk behind the wheel!"

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 135

We have seen it before. Like if you travel to anywhere where yellow fever is endemic, you need a vaccination passport to get back in! It’s not a new concept.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

@stargazer

So far certain state governments has been successful in sending people back those who have not fulfilled their border pass requirement or declaration so I don’t know why you think show be your vaccination papers will not make that grade.

There is a requirement for people to drive with valid driver license. You are bound by agreement upon entering a private business premises that you agree to be subject to search of your baggage upon request (most business have some sort of signs saying that although nowadays that signs are small and stuck on some hard to find corners). There is no absolute freedom to go anywhere in Australia. That sovereign customer trying to enter a Bunnings store have no legal right to claim discrimination if she does not fulfill entry conditions set by the business. Any private business can decline to serve anyone who appears to be intoxicated or high on drugs if that rule is applied universally. 

Why not a license/permit to enter a premises or even a state?

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

Totally for it and would have no issues if Qantas and Jetstar also introduced this.  Much better than the alternative of being locked out of Queensland or Victoria for example if they go into a sudden lockdown, as long as those states recognise that my vaccination allows me that freedom of movement across their borders. I think that might be the catch and it's yet another reason why states should maybe not have control over their borders in extreme times like this.

09 Aug 2020

Total posts 1

Why are people worried about whether other people are vaccinated if they’re vaccinated themselves? Vaccination reduces serious illness likelihood by >95%. If the vaccines are so good, people will see it and make the decision to get vaccinated. Are we proposing permanent lockdown for people who elect not to get vaccinated? 

20 Jun 2020

Total posts 32

Because those who aren't vaccinated create a significant burden on the hospital system which impacts patients who need to be treated for other medical reasons. Those who aren't vaccinated are more likely to catch and spread the disease. Those who aren't vaccinated undermine herd immunity and endanger the immunocompromised.

"Lockdowns" for those who elect to not vaccinated are not a new precedent, they've been around for decades. My work requires certain vaccinations to be in the workplace, schools require certain vaccinations for students to be enrolled, many countries also have vaccine requirements. In saying that, I don't think the "vaccination passport" will be around for more than a few months.

25 Mar 2021

Total posts 12

Because some people can't get vaccinated because of actual medical reasons, too young or their immune system won't build antibodies from the vaccine. So those are the people we are protecting through measures like this.

If people don't want to get vaccinated to help the greater community, why should the greater community accept them if they are not prepared to help look after the vulnerable parts of society?

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 36

This is a requirement that the Commonwealth Government should have made clear months ago would be the situation after a specified date.  Those travelling by plane either for business or pleasure should be able to feel comfortable that the stranger sitting next to them has done as much as they have to ensure the risk of spreading Covid is minimalised.  Yes it is possible to be vaccinated but still catch the virus and pass it on, but the odds of doing so are dramatically reduced once you're double dosed. It has become quite clear on various forums that those who have made the effort to get vaccinated do not wish to return to the office only to find themselves sitting next to someone who refuses to.  There are few places where you're obligated to be in such close proximity to a stranger than the economy class section of an aircraft, this is really a no-brainer.   

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Phil Young...by your same argument, how would you consider the health outcomes for the 60% of Australians who are overweight and make up the vast majority of comorbidity cases due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc. Pethaps your argument just conveniently supports your position. So I guess that the dietary choices and lack of exercise regimes of 60% of Australians that are overweight should just be ignored as an insignificant problem. Well I am not surprised that some would take your position. Probably at least 69% of the population.

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 303

That's an easy one to respond to GoRobin.  Obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes etc, do not impact on the health of others nearby.

It is now well-known that Smoking and Covid19 are highly likely to affect the health of others who are nearby, with only a reduced likelihood of transmission of Covid if you are vaccinated.  That is the reason why many people would prefer to keep a healthy distance from those who are unvaccinated.

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

My Medication Health Passport is simply a  $20 bill. Let's see how many people standing on the door of an establishment will deny me entry. I travel the world and I know that cash greases the palms of many. I don't expect it to change. And I am flying to Frankfurt from Sydney next week. And I haven't been medicated but I already got my CDC medication card through the mail. Travel has always been about adventure. It's just that the rules have changed, but those like me who are travellers will continue to do so regardless of how many bureacrats are standing at the check in gate waiting to receive my $20 Medication Card. I bet you won't post this because ET is just for the establishment and they just hate the idea that I will be sitting on the plane next to them.

11 Jul 2018

Total posts 4

People like you are the reason systems like this are in place. 

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 36

I hope you're happy to accept the likely consequences you will face if when you arrive at Frankfurt airport, or anywhere else in the world, they establish your vaccination card is a fake.  I doubt your $20 is going to mean much then.   Also hope you're happy to accept the full cost of possible hospitalization overseas if you do being ill, as no insurance company will pay out, assuming you have insurance, if they find out you claimed to be vaccinated but weren't.  

 

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 336

What an incredibly selfish and self-centred person you are.

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Very interesting to see how confronting it is for many in Australia to actually realise that not everyone thinks exactly like them. I am very much not a threat to anyone. I don't even know how anyone could even jump to that conclusion. I am about as dangerous as a baby. Really. If people have been medicated to protect themselves against covid, what have they got to fear. Even medicated people can still get covid and can still transmit it just as a non medicated person can. That's a simple fact. So why are many people upset about this. I am a Biochemist in my 60's, not overweight, been twice to Everest Base Camp and have no intention of getting medicated for no health reason. I am even planning to spend Christmas in India. I think that many in Australia have been isolated for so long and just want to blame someone, anyone, for their incarcaration. Well it's not me and if you think it is, then good luck changing your situation. You should look at the NSW Health Minister to do that for you.

Siri - define obnoxious entitled boomer fo me.

XWu
XWu

09 May 2020

Total posts 454

@GoRobin

It’s OK to think differently from other people in Australia.

What some people have a problem (myself included) is when the rules or laws are clearly stated (regardless of whether one agrees with it or not) that, other people think it somehow doesn’t apply to them and when someone transgress that rule, they argue why the consequences should not apply.

You appear well travelled and I would presume that you are respectful of the local cultures and laws regardless of whether you agree with them or not. Not sure how it can be different when a public health order in Australia can suddenly be regarded as a different situation. 

To be clear I do not agree with some of the border or lockdown measures with many of the states but remember these are by politicians elected by the local voters, so I respect their right to do so.

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Ian J....I don't need a medication card to arrive in Frankfurt and I don't need to do quarantine. I think you are getting your information from a false source.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 36

For someone who claims to be a biochemist, I find it a bit odd you don't know the correct terminology is vaccinated, not medicated. They're not the same.  

09 Sep 2021

Total posts 15

I agree with GoRobin 100%.

Needing a Vaccine Passport to travel within your own country is so UnAustralian.

Remember to old days when you'd smile and say " she'll be right mate" then simply get on with your life. Bring that back people.  We're better than this.

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 370

what's wrong with using my international yellow travel vaccination booklet as proof of what has been done plus getting a medicare certificate to take with me.is that more than enough.

06 Feb 2021

Total posts 36

Unfortunately, those yellow travel books are no longer likely to be acceptable, it's too easy for covidiots and antivaxxers to forge the entries, placing themselves and others at risk.  They were fine back in the 1960's were the vast majority of people travelling internationally were honest, and would not dream of forging the entries, sadly we now live in a society where far too many consider being honest at all times is not for them, that's for others. The books also needed to be checked manually at immigration, which was easier then as only a fraction of the number of people were travelling internationally as compared to now. 

As noted in IMissTravel's post, the old days have gone. While I agree with the sentiments expressed in that post, these days we need a high tech electronic system that is, (preferably,)  impossible to forge so society can be kept safe, and the hundreds of people disgorged off an international flight can be processed in a timely manner.  

I don't like it anymore than anyone else that society has become like this, but that's life in 2021, and we have to live with it.   

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Apr 2017

Total posts 135

You can probably try to use them, but because of how easy they are to forge and just how big the anti vaxx crowd are this time around, I doubt they will be seen as super legitimate. The nurse who administered my second dose of vaccine did fill out my vaccination booklet on request but I don’t expect it to be used by most countries. I just want it as a fallback if I can’t access mygov or misplace my little card or my phone for whatever reason.

07 May 2020

Total posts 151

Absolutely right Dredgy. Everything is so easy to forge and governments know this too. I am guessing that soon governments will find their exit paths out of the farce and that's why they don't want to sink any more money into this black hole. I said this about 12 months ago.


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