By Connor Sadler
British Airways Begins Trialing IATA Digital Travel Pass
British Airways has begun trialing the IATA Travel Pass on flights to Switzerland this week.
The airline is trialing the travel pass on flights from London’s Heathrow to Geneva and Zurich. Trials began on June 1.
The travel pass comes in the form of a smartphone app. Once downloaded, passengers create an account to check destination entry requirements and book the appropriate coronavirus tests. Test results are then automatically uploaded into the IATA app.
IATA and British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), are working together to develop the app. The IATA travel pass app is already being trialed by Iberia, Air New Zealand and RwandAir. Copa Airlines and Malaysia Airlines have both also announced their intention to use the IATA app.
According to a British Airways press release, the IATA Travel Pass will, in the future, allow travelers to store their COVID-19 vaccinations. For now, though, the app lets customers store and manage verified test results.
Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said in the airline press release: “We are committed to exploring ways to ensure that the customer journey is as frictionless as possible and sharing our learnings to help the travel industry take off again.
“We know that digital travel passes are part of the solution, and they will also play a key role in offering those traveling the reassurance they need before they arrive at the airport.
“We hope to be able to offer a customer-friendly digital option for every British Airways international route that requires proof of government mandated Covid status documentation,” continued Doyle.
British Airways is also trialing another digital travel pass app, VeriFLY. American Airlines has also introduced VeriFLY for its customers.
The U.K. flag carrier is trialing VeriFLY on routes to the U.S., Canada, France, Ireland, Barbados and The Bahamas. British Airways customers can also use VeriFLY on all its inbound international flights.
British Airways customers using VeriFLY can check in for their flight after having their travel documentation certified on the app.
American Airlines reports that VeriFLY is the industry’s most widely adopted health passport app. The mobile app is also helping customers flying with Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Iberia, Japan Air Lines and Qantas.
IATA’s travel pass and VeriFLY are not the only services offering certification support to customers, though.
All three of the above platforms have also announced plans to allow vaccination verification. This new feature will be instrumental in enforcement for countries offering vaccinated travelers a quarantine-free stay.
VeriFLY is already working with American Airlines to allow customers to upload their vaccination status. Customers traveling to The Bahamas, El Salvador and Guatemala can upload their COVID-19 vaccine records into VeriFLY.
Julie Rath, American Airlines’ Vice President of Customer Experience, said in the above press release: “VeriFLY gives customers peace of mind that they can meet their destination’s travel requirements and save significant time at the airport.”
“As countries reopen to those who have been vaccinated, we are ready with VeriFLY to help our customers travel with confidence,” added Rath.
Between November 2020 and March 2021, The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) surveyed almost 600 travelers. The travelers were passengers taking part in a oneworld testing trial.
The British Airways press release reports that, of the travelers, 99.7 percent said they were happy to take COVID-19 tests as an alternative to quarantine after international travel. Participants were also prepared to pay for affordable testing.
The survey also found that almost 70 percent of travelers said they would travel if required to take a COVID-19 test within 72 hours before departure. However, just under 80 percent of travelers said they would pay for COVID-19 testing.
On the results of the OII survey, a joint American Airlines, British Airways and oneworld statement said: “The Oxford study further reinforces that customers are willing to undergo COVID-19 testing as an alternative to quarantine.”
“The trial findings underline the important role that testing can play in the safe reopening of international travel, including hugely significant routes between the U.S. and UK.”
“The affordability of testing is crucial for travelers, and we stand ready to partner with governments and the private sector to offer affordable testing options for our customers who would like or need to travel again.”