Qantas Digital Health Pass: How vaccination passports will work

Posted: 30 July 2021 8:42 am
News
Human hand holding a passport and vaccination certificate

What will you need to fly internationally?

Qantas this week confirmed that it will use technology developed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to create a "digital health pass" app which will be used to confirm the vaccination and health status of passengers flying on international routes.

Like other airlines, Qantas has been trialling multiple solutions for tracking COVID-19 status on international flights. The idea is often referred to as a "vaccination passport".

It says it picked the IATA solution because it integrates easily with passport and flight information, meaning it can identify whether travel is permitted under whatever restrictions apply in the destination country.

"The app connects customers to certified testing labs so that results can be uploaded to the platform and customers can show they have a vaccine certificate and/or proof of a negative COVID test result before their flight," Qantas' announcement said. It will be used on both Qantas and Jetstar international flights.

Rules for permitted travel are changing rapidly worldwide. Some countries will require proof of vaccination, some will require evidence of a recent COVID-19 test, and some will require both.

While active development work is taking place at Qantas, none of this will be available for a while. No-one is expecting widescale resumption of international flights from Australia in 2021. Based on the current speed of vaccination rollouts and the lack of detail around the "four stage" plan for Australia, I'd be surprised if it happens before July 2022.

The digital health pass doesn't immediately apply to flights within the Australia/New Zealand travel bubble (which is suspended at the moment in any case). However, it seems likely this will eventually be the model for trans-Tasman journeys as well.

A quick reminder to anyone screaming that this is some kind of attack on their travel freedom: Vaccination requirements for travel are not a new development. When my parents first flew to Europe in the 1960s, they required a smallpox vaccination before they could depart. Some tropical destinations have long required vaccinations for malaria. That's the way it goes with global travel.

"Many governments are already requiring proof of vaccine or a negative COVID test result for international travel," Qantas chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said. "Even if it wasn't a government requirement, Qantas has always been a leader in safety and we have a responsibility to our customers and crew. A digital health pass will connect customers with COVID testing facilities, health authorities and airlines, and ultimately enable the opening of more travel bubbles and borders."

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Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more.

Picture: Angus Kidman

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