As the UK slowly emerges from Covid Lock-down protocols this week, some airlines are hoping to see a steady return to normalcy. To that end, Virgin Atlantic has announced two “complimentary trials” of digital health pass solutions in the coming weeks.
Starting today, customers traveling on the carrier’s five currently operating routes from Heathrow to the US (New York JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and Atlanta) will be able to verify their Covid-19 test results using Trust Assure’s “robust artificial intelligence-based solution.”
Passengers can upload their test documentation in advance of their flight, where it will be “validated using AI, in less than two minutes”. Once confirmed, customers will receive a QR code with a “green verification”, allowing them proceed through check-in.
Virgin said that the Trust Assure solution had already proven “extremely effective” in development and trials by the carrier’s joint venture partner Delta.
In addition, Virgin is to trial the IATA Travel Pass app on its Heathrow-Barbados route from April 16, “in close collaboration with the Government of Barbados”.
The one-month trial will see customers travelling for permitted reasons on flights VS131 from London Heathrow to Barbados invited to participate in the trial by downloading the IATA Travel Pass on their smartphone.
The app allows users to create a digital ID comprising their profile photo and passport information, from where they can upload their Covid-19 credentials, selecting relevant flight information.
Virgin has confirmed that it will be “the first UK airline to conduct a live trial of IATA Travel Pass”.
The carrier also said it would also seek approval from the UK government to expand the trial, to allow for it to be used with customers arriving at the UK border on flights from Barbados to Heathrow.
Earlier this month Singapore Airlines became the first carrier to trial the IATA Travel Pass solution on flights between Singapore Changi and London Heathrow, and several other airlines have announced forthcoming trials of the app, including Qatar Airways, Etihad, Emirates, Air Baltic, Malaysia Airlines, Rwandair and Air New Zealand.
Commenting on the news Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer, Virgin Atlantic, said:
“In parallel to the UK’s successful vaccination program, and accompanied by a risk-based, phased easing of restrictions, we can see a flightpath to soon allow the safe restart of international travel at scale, in time for summer.
“When the skies reopen, rapid, affordable testing combined with digital health integration will be vital to streamline and simplify the customer experience, make border health checks manageable and build consumer confidence. Governments, industry and technology companies need to work together to lead the adoption of digital solutions with global common standards that are accepted at borders.”
“Our Barbados trial with IATA Travel Pass is an exciting step towards a ‘digital health pass’ as we actively explore secure solutions to integrate testing, vaccination, health documents and locator forms into our customer journeys.
“Building on the success of the development by our partners Delta and TrustAssure and in line with our innovative spirit, we are also proud to join a partnership with CLX Health to deliver industry-leading A.I.-powered test verification for US-bound customers.”