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You could wait 8 hours at the airport on your next trip; here's why

June 01, 2021
3 min read
You could wait 8 hours at the airport on your next trip; here's why
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is pushing for countries to adopt standardized digital COVID-19 screening processes at their airports. If they don't, the organization says travelers could face waits up to eight hours as vaccination records and test results are verified.

"Without an automated solution for COVID-19 checks, we can see the potential for significant airport disruptions on the horizon," IATA Director General Willie Walsh said in a statement.

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Travelers could face waits of up to eight hours when capacity returns to 100%, thanks to manual verification needed to process paper COVID-19 health documents. (Photo by Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Walsh -- former CEO of the International Airlines Group, which includes British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia -- added that IATA, the trade association for 290 of the world's airlines, puts pre-pandemic wait times around 1.5 hours, on average. Now, even with most airports almost fully staffed and passenger numbers at only about 30% of what they were at their pre-pandemic peak, those wait times have doubled "reaching an unacceptable three hours." The greatest increases have been reported at check-in and border control, where health credentials (mainly paper documents) are being checked.

"Nobody will tolerate waiting hours at check-in or for border formalities," Walsh said. "We must automate the checking of vaccine and test certificates before traffic ramps up."

The technology required to digitize COVID-19 travel health documents is already in place, but few countries currently have a way of standardizing it. (Photo courtesy of The Commons Project Foundation)

The technology already exists, as seen with IATA's own Travel Pass app and the automated check-in processes airlines currently use to verify passenger identities. Adding a COVID-19 verification component would eliminate the need for manual checks, cut down on queues and help to eliminate fraudulent documentation, IATA said.

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The organization is pushing for countries attending the G7 summit on June 11 to adopt a standardized set of internationally recognizable digital protocols that will speed things up as travel resumes.

Some countries, including the U.K., have taken steps to thin out potential overcrowding in anticipation of a surge in travel this year. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

Some countries -- including the U.K., where the G7 summit is set to be held -- have taken measures to thin crowds as they anticipate an influx of travelers. Specifically, the U.K. has warned that wait times at London's Heathrow could stretch up to six hours.

"This cannot wait," Walsh said. "More and more people are being vaccinated. More borders are opening. Booking patterns tell us that pent-up demand is at extremely high levels. But governments and the competent authorities are acting in isolation and moving far too slowly. A smooth restart is still possible. But governments need to understand the urgency and act fast."

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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    Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The revamped Wander Card from Credit One Bank earns cardmembers up to 10 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases. With no foreign transaction fees, the card is also great for international travel. However, points earned from this card can only be used at a fixed value, so it may not be the best option for those striving to get maximum value from their rewards.

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  • This card has no foreign transaction fees and earns up to 10 points per dollar on travel purchases through the Credit One Bank travel partner site.

Cons

  • While cardholders can earn a significant amount of points on travel purchases, there isn't any way to redeem points from the Wander Card for maximum value (beyond 1 cent per point).
  • Earn 10,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 90 days and redeem for a $100 statement credit, gift cards, or travel
  • Earn 10x points on eligible hotels and car rentals booked through the Credit One Bank travel site
  • Earn 5x points on eligible travel, dining, and gas
  • Earn 1x points on all other purchases
  • Redeem your reward points for statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, flights, hotels, and more
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Free Online Credit Score and Credit Report summary, terms apply
  • If you are a Covered Borrower under the Military Lending Act, you may get a different offer
  • See Rates & Fees