An illustration of the IATA Travel Pass mobile application. Photo: SOPA Images / Contributor
With the end of the pandemic still some time away, it seems we will have to cope with the maze of health permits for a little longer. But the travel industry has been working at easing some of this pain and there are several versions of a “health passport” in the works. One of them launches next week, and hopes to make international air travel easier than it is at the moment. IATA’s Travel Pass will act as a digital certificate, validating a flyer’s COVID-19 test result and vaccination status. The pass has already been tested in Singapore, where it can be used starting 1 May. So what really is it? Here is an explainer:
Who or what is IATA?
The International Air Transport Association is the trade association for the world’s airlines. It helps formulate industry policies, deals with major aviation issues and provides support in aviation activities.
Why is it creating this Travel Pass?
The pandemic has changed the way we travel. Planning your travels now involves checking for COVID testing requirements of your destination and finding accurate information about the kind of tests required and the regulations you need to follow. As the COVID situation fluctuates across the globe, regulations continue to change, making air travel a complex affair. Often, this has also resulted in health check errors and fraud. The IATA Travel Pass hopes to tackle these problems and make travel smoother and more efficient for passengers and airlines.
Great, so how does it work?
The IATA Travel Pass is made of four modules:
A global registry of health requirements to help you find accurate, updated information about travel, testing and vaccine requirements for your journey
A global registry of testing/vaccination centres to help you find testing labs at your departure location and fulfill the requirements of your destination
A Lab App that enables authorised labs and testing centres to share your test or vaccination certificate with you digitally
A contactless travel app that helps you receive these certificates and share them with airlines and authorities as a verification of your health status. The app will also create a ‘digital passport’ for you and help you manage all your travel documentation digitally.
Which airlines accept the IATA Travel Pass?
So far, the pass has been successfully tested by Singapore Airlines on the London-Singapore route. Currently, over 20 airlines are conducting trials with it, including Emirates, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines, Etihad, Air New Zealand, Gulf Air, Air Baltic, Korean Air, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.
When can you start using it?
The IATA Travel pass app will be available for download on Android and iOS in the second half of April and can be used by passengers travelling to Singapore via flights starting 1 May, 2021. There will also be paper-based alternatives for people who do not have mobile phones.