American Airlines debuts vaccine passport feature within mobile app

May 20, 2021

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Flying with American Airlines? Get your vaccine card ready.

On Thursday, the Fort Worth-based carrier announced that it’s adding a vaccine passport capability to its health passport mobile app, Verifly. Flyers can now securely upload their CDC vaccination card before a trip, which will then be verified and processed before departure.

Verifly is an independent mobile app that American has deployed since November 2020 to streamline the check-in and document verification process before departure, including international entry requirements, COVID-19 tests and now vaccines. It can be downloaded for free on both the Apple App Store and Google Play store.

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In explaining the news, Preston Peterson, American’s director of customer experience innovation, told TPG that “we’re now shifting into this phase… where countries are really opening up, but it’s more based on vaccines. We need to adapt to that shift and make sure that we’re providing an opportunity for our customers to use their vaccine status to get into a country or a destination if they choose to.”

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

At launch, the vaccine passport feature will only be available for travelers headed to the Bahamas, El Salvador and Guatemala. In addition to accepting U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination cards, Peterson told TPG that the carrier is working with Verifly to accept international vaccine records as well.

With ever-changing entry requirements, American’s committed to expanding the feature to other international destinations. In fact, this paves the way for American to support the much-anticipated travel corridor expected to launch shortly between the U.S. and the European Union.

“We are laying the groundwork for that,” Peterson said in reference to the news that Europe could soon be open to fully vaccinated Americans. “We’re happy to have this challenge to be able to provide our customers with more destinations to travel to this summer,” he continued.

On Wednesday, European Union countries confirmed that they’ll open to fully vaccinated Americans this summer. The agreement will allow fully vaccinated travelers entry to each of the EU countries without the need for a further COVID-19 test result or quarantine on arrival. A similar corridor between the U.S. and U.K. has reportedly been in the works for at least a month, but no formal announcement has been made yet.

American Airlines does not require vaccination for travel on its planes, except when it’s mandated by the destination country. When using the Verifly app for pre-departure screening, travelers can proceed through online or mobile check-in without needing to stop at a counter at the airport. If there are issues that require a visit to an agent, you’ll need to stop at a physical check-in desk, though Verifly customers can use a dedicated priority lane at 11 airports, including five of its 10 hubs.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

In recent weeks, there’ve been reports of travelers providing falsified COVID-19 test and vaccine documents to airlines and immigration officials during travel. Asked about how Verifly actually verifies the CDC paper stock, Peterson couldn’t get into the specifics, but he did reassure travelers that “we will meet and comply with the requirements of the destinations of where we travel.”

American isn’t the only U.S. carrier to support mobile vaccine passports. United’s all-in-one travel-ready center includes the ability to upload test results and vaccine certificates prior to travel. Delta hasn’t announced a dedicated vaccine passport feature.

In addition to now supporting vaccine cards for international travel, the Verifly app can be used by AA travelers returning to the U.S. All travelers two years and older entering the U.S. are required to have proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure, in addition to a signed attestation form.

By using the Verifly app, flyers can bypass a stop at the check-in counter and be assured that their documents were already verified before getting to the airport. Nevertheless, Peterson still recommends traveling with paper copies of test results and vaccination certificates.

At the end of the day, “we don’t control the immigration process in the various countries,” he said.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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