Emirates is planning to expand its rollout of the IATA Travel Pass health passport application to more cities worldwide. As things stand, passengers on ten routes can have their COVID-19 documentation approved in advance of travel by using the system.

Emirates, IATA Travel Pass, Health Passport
Emirates plans to roll out IATA’s Travel Pass on more routes. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

One and a half years ago, all that was required to travel was a passport. However, as many countries look to limit the spread of COVID-19, they want proof of a negative COVID-19 test, or in some cases vaccination or a COVID recovery, before travel. Health passports don’t enable travel with such rules, but they make it simpler for passengers and airlines.

Ten routes now live

According to Emirates, the Dubai-based airline is now accepting the IATA Travel Pass on ten routes. These routes are,

  • London (Heathrow)
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Istanbul
  • New York (JFK)
  • Moscow
  • Frankfurt
  • Paris
  • Amsterdam
IATA Travel Pass
Travel Pass is already in use on 10 Emirates routes. Photo: IATA

It doesn’t stop there, though. The airline intends to add even more routes in the coming weeks. Commenting on the rollout, the airline’s COO, Adel Al Redha, said,

“From our biometrics path at Dubai International (DXB) to initiatives like the IATA Travel Pass and integrations with the health authority databases, these projects deliver multiple benefits from better customer experiences to the reduced use of paper, and improved efficiency and reliability in travel document checks.”

In addition to Travel Pass, next month, Emirates will integrate the UAE’s COVID-19 health app into its check-in systems. If a passenger stores their details in the Alhosn health app, they can be read by the airline to allow check in before being immediately discarded from Emirates’ systems.

How do health passports work?

Health passports work by removing document verification from the airport environment and completing it off-site. Passengers can submit documentation, such as proof of a negative COVID-19 test. As these are required for many flights, it is the airline’s job to check passengers meet the requirements. If the airlines don’t, they could end up being fined.

The document verification team confirms that the test is legitimate and then issues approval for the passenger to fly. This means that staff and passenger time isn’t taken up at the airport with such checks.

Emirates, IATA Travel Pass, Health Passport
Many airports aren’t designed for such high numbers of passengers using the check-in desks. Photo: Emirates

While the levels of travel have been reasonably low, this hasn’t been such an issue. Earlier this year, IATA chief Willie Walsh warned of the possible problems, predicting airport chaos. However, travel is now starting to bounce back.

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Walsh explained that most people didn’t visit a check-in desk pre-COVID-19. As such, airport check-in zones have been designed with fewer passengers in mind. Document verification at the airport means that more passengers need to use the check-in desks, meaning longer queues. It also means that these passengers are spending longer at the check-in desk, not helping the already long lines.

Have you used the IATA Travel Pass app with Emirates or another airline? How did you find it? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.

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