Skip to content

Delta CEO raises prospect of 'immunity passports' for air travel

April 24, 2020
3 min read
Delta CEO raises prospect of 'immunity passports' for air travel
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The travel industry has been decimated in the last few months by coronavirus.

Inevitably, travelers will one day return to the world's airports, seaports and train stations, but it's likely that travel in the future will happen a little differently than it did before the COVID pandemic.

The airline business has been particularly hard-hit during the outbreak, with demand for flights at historic lows. Aviation executives have been clear that their industry is in for some major changes, but exactly what's on the horizon remains hazy for now.

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more airline news.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said in a call with investors Wednesday that he and his employees are preparing for the possibility of new restrictions for travelers, which could include requiring passengers to present documentation of good health at airports.

Related: Travel in the post-coronavirus era.

"We will make whatever changes to the business model that will be necessary," he said, suggesting that what he called "immunity passports" could be a requirement for travelers. "Could there be a new public health agency coming out that requires a new passport to travel? I don't know but we'll be on the forefront of all those advances."

Related: Delta modifies boarding process to encourage social distancing.

Bastian is not alone in assuming the future will bring requirements for travelers to prove they're healthy before boarding a plane. Industry watchers previously told TPG that they have similar expectations.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

"People will have to carry, essentially, a COVID passport,” said Robert W. Mann, an aviation analyst based in the New York City suburbs. Even when a vaccine becomes widely available, Mann said people will still likely have to carry documentation to show they are immune before traveling.

This "show me your papers" future is already nearing reality in some parts of the world.

Related: Cobranded credit cards may help airlines recover from coronavirus.

Earlier this week, The Washington Post reported that Chile will begin to issue immunity passports to its citizens who have recovered from COVID-19. The paperwork allows its bearer to operate outside of government-imposed social distancing restrictions. In other words, those in Chile who have recovered from the virus can return to work and will no longer be forced to remain in lockdown.

So far, there are no official plans by U.S. regulators or companies to follow in Chile's footsteps, but widepsread speculation about requiring health documentation for travel and other parts of everyday life makes it seem like an increasingly likely possibility as stay at home restrictions are eventually lifted.

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

Earn 60,000 points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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.

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
BEST FOR DINING AND GROCERY REWARDS
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

    Earn 60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There’s a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It’s been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you’re hitting the skies soon, you’ll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there’s no reason that the foodie shouldn’t add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x).
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel.
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months.

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories.
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits.
  • Few travel perks and protections.