Virgin Atlantic to trial digital Covid health passes for passengers on UK flights

Virgin Atlantic is set to trial a digital health pass for its passengers on UK flights from April.

Richard Branson’s airline will test the IATA Travel Pass – a digital pass with records of relevant health documents ahead of travel – for a month onboard its Heathrow-Barbados flights.

From April 16 the airline will invite passengers to download the IATA Travel Pass on their phones, and use the app to upload passport information and relevant Covid-19 documents such as proof of a negative test result.

It will also allow passengers to check that the meet the criteria to travel to their destination.

Virgin Atlantic has said that future versions of the app will also be able to include vaccine records.

Currently the pass is being accepted at the borders in Barbados, but the airline said it would be seeking approval from the UK government to expand the trial and accommodate customers arriving into the UK from Barbados.

A Virgin Atlantic plane
Virgin Atlantic will trial the app on its UK-Barbados routes

Currently non-essential travel is banned for Brits as part of lockdown measures in the UK. New coronavirus laws mean that you can only travel abroad for one of a list of permitted reasons. As a result, Virgin has been operating a handful of flights for those who do need to travel for essential reasons.

It’s hoped that foreign travel could resume from May 17 at the earliest under England’s lockdown roadmap, subject to a review by the government’s Global Travel Taskforce in April.

The IATA Travel Pass isn’t the only new system that Virgin Atlantic is trialling over the coming weeks.

A woman's hands hold a smartphone with a green screen and QR code visible
The airline is also testing a new AI tool by TrustAssureTM

As of today (March 29) it will also launch a trial of a Covid-19 ‘Covid-19 test verification A.I. tool’ on Heathrow-US flights.

Passengers can upload their pre-departure Covid-19 test documents ahead of their flight, which the AI tool created by TrustAssureTM will validate. Once confirmed, travellers receive a QR code with a green verification, meaning they can proceed quickly through check in.

What do you think of digital health passes and Covid-19 passports? Let us know in the comments below.

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