Virgin Atlantic to trial digital health passes

The tail fin and underwing of Virgin Atlantic's Airbus A350 G-VLUX
Virgin Atlantic
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
26 March 2021

Virgin Atlantic is launching two trials to pave the way for the introduction of digital health passes. Partnering with IATA Travel Pass and TrustAssure, the airline will run two separate, complimentary trials to streamline customers’ journeys.

On 16 April, Virgin Atlantic will start a one-month trial of the IATA Travel Pass on its popular London Heathrow to Barbados services. The airline will work closely with the Barbados government, which will accept the pass at its border. Customers travelling for permitted reasons on flights VS131 from London Heathrow to Barbados will be invited to participate in the trial by downloading the IATA Travel Pass onto their smartphones. In the app, they can create a digital ID that includes a profile photo, their passport details and upload their COVID-19 credentials.

The IATA Travel Pass is at the forefront of digital health pass solutions being developed to allow travellers to confirm that they meet the necessary health criteria for travel. Currently, the app will hold information on recent COVID-19 tests to confirm a traveller’s negative status. In the future, it will also store vaccine records. Virgin Atlantic will be the first UK airline to conduct a live trial of IATA Travel Pass.

A man shows his IATA Travel Pass app to an airline worker and hands over his passport

The free app is being considered by governments around the world to support the restart of international travel at scale. Virgin Atlantic will seek approval from the UK government to expand the trial to accommodate customers arriving at the UK border on flights from Barbados.

“In parallel to the UK’s successful vaccination programme 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,” Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer at Virgin Atlantic, said. “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.”

A woman's hand holding an iPhone that shows the Virgin Atlantic TrustAssure QR code
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic is also working with TrustAssure to trial a similar system for customers travelling to the US. From 29 March, travellers will be able to verify COVID-19 test results digitally, utilising TrustAssure’s robust artificial intelligence-based solution. Each customer’s pre-departure test documents can be securely uploaded via TrustAssure’s mobile-optimised website before their flight and validated using AI in less than two minutes. The technology has already proven extremely effective in trials by Virgin Atlantic’s Joint Venture partner Delta Air Lines. Once confirmed, customers will receive a QR code with a green verification, allowing them to proceed quickly through Check In. 

Rapid COVID-19 tests for air travellers are as effective as a 10-day quarantine at reducing imported cases of COVID-19, according to new research by Edge Health and Oxera. The study was commissioned by an industry consortium led by Virgin Atlantic.

Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more.