Virgin Atlantic has launched the first live trials of the IATA Travel Pass by a UK airline.
Customers on flight VS131, travelling for permitted reasons from London Heathrow to Barbados, were invited to download the free smartphone app and participate in the successful first trial flight, which departed just ahead of schedule at 10.24 am today from Terminal 2.
The IATA Travel Pass is at the forefront of digital health pass solutions being developed, allowing customers to verify that they meet the health criteria needed to travel between certain countries, locate labs and present evidence of a negative Covid-19 test to the relevant authorities.
Future updates of the app will also incorporate vaccine records.
Using the app to create a digital ID, comprising a profile photo and linked to passport details, Virgin Atlantic customers are able to add their negative PCR test results for Barbados, taken at a participating lab within three days of departure.
With the information and flight details already loaded onto their Travel Pass, customers’ experience at Heathrow is swift and efficient, removing paper-based Covid-19 documentation with a digital ‘one-stop shop’ to collect, store and verify documents in the secure app.
When implemented more widely, digital health passes will help reduce check-in times, make border checks more manageable and streamline customer journeys, with a Priority Virgin Atlantic Check-In lane in place at Terminal 2 for IATA Travel Pass holders in the trial.
The one-month trial of the IATA Travel Pass is being run in close collaboration with the Government of Barbados, which is leading the way through its active involvement in the trial.
Lisa Cummins, Barbados Minister of Tourism and International Transport said: “COVID has taught us many things about how we transact business and those lessons include the reality that disruptive digital technologies are transforming our travel and tourism industry. We have to embrace technology that not only deals with the integration of travel and public health priorities but we also have to transform the entire travel experience and our airport experiences.”
“The IATA Travel Pass and its globalisation based on the important integration of the TIMATICS platform in our view represents an important plank in COVID era travel transformation. The pass treats to our dual imperatives of clear, transparent and unambiguous travel protocols and investment in boosting traveller and local confidence.”
Governments around the world are currently considering the Travel Pass to support the restart of international travel at scale.
Virgin Atlantic continues to engage with the UK Government to enable the trial to expand and accommodate customers arriving at the UK border on Barbados-Heathrow flights.
Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer, Virgin Atlantic, said: “Our innovative trial with the IATA Travel Pass and the Government of Barbados supports a smooth and streamlined experience, helping our customers to fly safe and well and navigate new travel requirements from the palm of their hands.
“When international restarts at scale; rapid, affordable testing and effective digital proof of Covid-19 credentials based on global common standards will make journeys easier and provide greater confidence to book. We urge the UK Government to confirm that our customers can use digital apps and that these will be accepted at the UK border. The current paper-only-based processes will not be viable as customer numbers increase.”