American and Alaska Airlines First to Offer Health Passports to International Travellers

by Chantal Welch
American Airlines A321

American Airlines and Alaska Airlines are the first U.S. airlines to announce they are offering VeriFLY’s health passport to international travellers who are required to provide documentation of negative Covid-19 tests.

American Airlines Part of the Oneworld Alliance

American Airlines part of oneworld © Sébastien Mortier via Flickr

Increased Demand for Digital Technology

As a result of recent U.S. travel regulations and restrictions, international travellers must present proof of a negative Covid-19 test result on arrival in the U.S. Subsequently, the VeriFLY health passport is now being offered by U.S. airlines. The American Airlines Group Inc and Alaska Air Group are the first U.S. based airlines to roll out the VeriFLY app to international travellers.

As global travel restrictions continue to evolve, there has been an increased demand for software and technology that can aid passengers by streamlining all their required documentation. Airlines have had to adapt to this demand and roll out innovative technology to assist their customers.

Digital health passports are effective in streamlining the check-in process, reducing wait times for verifying documents, and increasing the credibility of documents. The free VeriFLY app provides real-time verification for Covid-19-related information, such as lab results. VerifLY app users can store proof of Covid-19 tests and documentation of having recovered from the virus.

Alaska Airlines 737

Alaska Airlines 737 © Alaska Airlines

How Airlines are using VeriFLY

American Airlines have tested VeriFLY from its hub at Miami International Airport and are expanding it for all international flights to the U.S, as well as direct and connecting flights from U.S. domestic airports to eight countries: United Kingdom, Canada, Jamaica, Chile, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

Julie Rath, vice president of customer experience at American Airlines, said:

“We are constantly looking at ways to make travel easier and simpler for our customers, and navigating testing requirements and validation is a big piece of that. The app will “further our common goal of preventing the spread of COVID-19 and ensure compliance with local regulations that have been put in place to protect our customers and team members.”

VeriFLY app

International arrival using the third-party app VeriFLY © Alaska Airlines

On 5 February 2021, Alaska Airlines made the VeriFLY app available for its international customers arriving in the U.S. On arrival, passengers must present their VeriFLY profile to an Alaska Airlines agent. Once validated, customers can continue normal check-in without additional test verification.

VeriFLY app

VeriFLY app © British Airways

Additionally, American Airlines joint business partner British Airways is currently testing the VeriFLY app for passengers flying from London to the U.S.

This marks the first time that two airlines in a trans-Atlantic joint business alliance will accept a common mobile health passport. British Airways and American Airlines are currently members of the oneworld alliance, with Alaska Airlines soon to join.

IATA and SITA Solutions

A similar digital app, recently launched by the International Air Transport Association is the IATA Travel Pass. It’s currently being trialled by Qatar Airways, Etihad and Emirates. Panama’s Copa Airlines will begin trialling it next month for travel within Latin America.

Etihad Travel Pass

Passenger boarding © Etihad Airways

Another industry innovation to aid recovery is SITA’s Health Protect solution, launched last week. Health Protect seamlessly integrates with multiple travel pass schemes (such as AOK, CommonPass, IATA, SimplyGo).

This industry solution will help airports, airlines, governments and passengers to safely and securely share information on health tests or vaccinations needed during travel. It has been successfully trialled by travellers to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a new trial will soon commence at Milan Malpensa Airport, Italy.

David Lavorel, CEO of Airports and Borders at SITA, said,

“We’re excited for the potential of SITA Health Protect to bridge the gap between airlines resuming normal operations and governments’ strong focus on keeping control of Covid-19. Recovery from Covid-19 will take time and is complex but we believe that SITA can play a key role in enabling a safer, simpler travel experience for passengers.”

IATA Travel Pass

The IATA Travel Pass © International Air Transport Association (IATA) via Facebook

Digital health passports are a safe and secure solution that can help restart aviation. They offer the right balance between containment and restarting the economy.  Health passports provide a short-term solution that could prove instrumental in getting employees back to work and restoring confidence in travel.

What are your thoughts on digital health passports? Would they give you the confidence to travel? Let us know in the comments below.

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