Emirates says it will make a COVID-19 travel app available across its entire route network within the coming weeks as the airline prepares to serve 90 per cent of its pre-pandemic network by the end of July and reactivate as many as 30 of its Airbus A380 superjumbos to cater for an anticipated resurgence in international travel demand.
The Travel Pass app is designed to make travelling in the pandemic era a little easier by first providing passengers with the latest COVID-19 travel regulations for their destination and then allowing passengers to verify their vaccination or negative test status where necessary.
The Dubai-based airline was one of the first carriers in the world to trial the app which has been created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as part of an effort to make it easier for both passengers and airlines to manage the mess that COVID-19 travel rules have become.
At first, Emirates used the app to verify PCR test results but the app has since been expanded to include vaccination status. Instead of ground agents examining reams of paperwork to make sure a passenger is compliant with the destination entry requirements, the IATA Travel Pass displays a QR code that when scanned will say simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to whether the passenger is eligible to travel.
The cost to an airline for getting it wrong and allowing a passenger with the incorrect paperwork to travel can be huge with governments imposing fines on airlines that don’t correctly vet passengers before they board a flight.
Development of the Travel Pass app, however, hasn’t been without its problems. Faced with lengthy delays, some airlines have turned to other suppliers or have created their own solutions. There are now a whole host of competing apps that risk making pandemic era travel even more complicated for passengers.
Emirates says it has been “working closely” with IATA to improve the app based on customer experience. The app was only recently made available to Android phone users, as well as Apple’s iOS.
Even so, Emirates is launching an in-house solution that will connect Dubai’s official Alhosn COVID-19 app with its check-in systems so that passengers originating in Dubai can share test and vaccination data from the Alhosn app and Emirates.
Addressing fears of improper use of personal medical data, the airline said passengers “can rest assured that once check-in formalities are completed, information related to their COVID-19 medical records will be immediately discarded from the Emirates systems.”
At the moment, the IATA Travel Pass is available for passengers travelling between Dubai and London, Barcelona, Madrid, Istanbul, New York JFK, Moscow, Frankfurt, Charles De Gaulle, and Amsterdam.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.