Skip to content

The future of international flying? IATA and Qantas push vaccine passports to restart travel

Nov. 24, 2020
4 min read
The future of international flying? IATA and Qantas push vaccine passports to restart 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.

Before the pandemic, I always traveled with my passport (and international power adapter), even if I was going on a short domestic trip.

Though a trip could start with a quick hop from New York to Chicago, I never knew where work would take me next.

That's also why I was sure to always pack one more international travel item: my yellow fever vaccination card. In addition to a passport and visa, some countries require proof of a yellow fever vaccination to enter.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Well, that proof of vaccination framework is what the International Air Transport Association (IATA), as well as Qantas, appear to be working towards as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

On Monday, IATA announced that it's in the final stage of developing a digitalized "Travel Pass" that would help support the reopening of international borders.

This new online system would enable airlines to tap into a common data set of necessary testing or vaccine information for travelers. As part of the plan, travelers and laboratories could theoretically upload negative test results and vaccination information, which could be shared with airlines during check-in and international governments at border crossings.

Additionally, by centralizing all the COVID-19 related testing or inoculation procedures, airlines and travelers could use the Travel Pass as a one-stop-shop for figuring out necessary pre-travel requirements.

In fact, on my recent trip to Dubai, the airline staff simply checked my printed negative COVID-19 test before checking me in. There were no authenticity checks, nor did anyone else in New York or Dubai check the certificate.

Zach Honig and I both checked in for our Emirates flight with our negative COVID test results (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

With a Travel Pass, not only would the laboratory upload the test result directly to the centralized system, but airlines and governments could be reassured that no one's gaming the system.

And perhaps most importantly, a Travel Pass should hopefully have better safeguards for sensitive health information.

According to Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO, "We are bringing this to market in the coming months to also meet the needs of the various travel bubbles and public health corridors that are starting operation."

For now, IATA is working with International Airlines Group, which counts Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, Level and Vueling as subsidiaries, to further develop this solution. The first cross-border Travel Pass pilot is scheduled for later this year and the full roll-out slated for the first quarter of 2021. The end goal, of course, is to convince airlines and governments to work together to reopen borders sooner.

Related: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

IATA's move comes just as Qantas' CEO, Alan Joyce, told a local television network that the Sydney-based airline is working towards requiring all international travelers to be vaccinated against the coronavirus before boarding one of the company's flights.

"We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say that for international travelers to ask people to have a vaccination before getting on the aircraft," said Joyce.

While the details remain light, Joyce hinted at a program similar to IATA's Travel Pass for managing the flow of health information.

"What we are looking at is how you can have a vaccination passport, an electronic version of it, that certifies what the vaccine is, is it acceptable to the country you are traveling to," Joyce concluded.

Only time will tell how the airline industry and governments collaborate to reopen international travel. But one thing's for certain: there's no shortage of concepts being piloted.

Featured image by (Photo by nodrama_llama/Shutterstock)

TPG featured card

Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 6X points
6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points75,000 points
Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

Annual Fee

$125

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

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for Marriott Bonvoy Business® American Express® Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best Marriott card for Business Owners
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
3 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
2X2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Earn 100,000 points
    75,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • 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

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

Pros

  • 6x points on eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program
  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees