With covid-19 vaccination rates on the rise, the airline industry has a plan to help facilitate air travel with the launch of a digital travel pass app slated to arrive as soon as mid-April.
In an announcement detailed by Reuters, the International Air Transport Association provided an update on its digital Travel Pass. IATA Vice President Kamil Alawadhi said the app is currently being tested and is expected to become available on April 15, first on iOS with an Android version coming “later.”
The purpose of the app is to help streamline air travel by digitizing and centralizing covid testing results and vaccinations, which is especially important as many airlines and countries currently require proof of a negative covid test taken within one to three days before arriving in a new country.
The IATA says its Travel Pass is designed to unify validation and authentication for “all country regulations regarding covid-19 passenger travel requirements,” with the app allowing passengers to create a digital passport, verify and store their testing results and vaccination cards, and provide a secure way to share those results with government and air travel authorities. And by working with test centers, labs may even be able to issue digital certificates directly to passengers before an upcoming trip.
However, even after the IATA’s app becomes available, it will be important for individual airlines to adopt the Travel Pass if it’s going to be truly effective. The IATA governs the vast majority of global air travel with nearly 300 current members, including major U.S. airlines such as American Airlines, Delta, and United.
Alawadhi told Reuters “the application will only achieve its success once airlines, different countries, airports adopt it,” though probably to little surprise, Alawadhi also added that “a huge amount of airlines have requested to be on board.”
That said, at least for now only around 20 of the IATA’s 295 member airlines have announced plans to test out the IATA’s new app. Currently, Barbados is one of the first countries in the world to accept digital documentation for covid testing at its border, and last week Virgin Atlantic announced that it will test out the IATA’s app for its route between London and Barbados starting on April 16.
By digitizing covid testing and vaccination data, the IATA is hoping to speed up health and safety checkpoints for passengers. And as more people continue to get vaccinated and start to think about traveling again, anything to make traveling a bit easier will probably be a very welcome upgrade. Unless you have covid, and in that case you better stay home.