A Better Flight Plan

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Have Health Pass, Will Travel

With vaccinations on the rise, COVID-19 cases on the decline, and domestic and international restrictions being lifted or eased, more and more people across the U.S. and around the world are reclaiming one of their most treasured pre-pandemic activities: travel. While being vaccinated is not a requirement to fly, showing proof of vaccination or negative test results is required for entry into many countries and can often enable travelers to avoid otherwise mandatory quarantines.

If you’ve been vaccinated in the U.S., you have a white card from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but what’s the best and easiest way to provide proof of your vaccination or a negative test when you’re traveling? A digital health pass. The U.S. does not have a single standardized pass, but U.S. airlines are making the process as easy as possible, offering access to digital platforms such as CLEAR Health Pass, VeriFLY and CommonPass or integrating that functionality into their own apps.

“We want to ensure that everyone is able to travel,” A4A Senior Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Policy Sharon Pinkerton explained at Fortune Live Media’s Gone Digital: Everything You Need to Know About Digital Health Passes event.

While the U.S. airline industry applauds the progress made in vaccinations in the U.S., Pinkerton stressed the importance of the ability of health passes to also show proof of negative test results. “If there are certain requirements in place, health requirements, then we believe a vaccine is one option, but people should also be afforded the opportunity to present a negative test,” she said, noting that some people cannot be vaccinated for medical or religious reasons.

And given that the U.S. government will not be creating a health pass, the U.S. airline industry is urging the government to take the lead in establishing uniform standards for health passes. “A key component of providing public confidence is a standardized experience,” Pinkerton said. “That was really behind our thinking with respect to asking [the federal government] to create standards. And those standards, hopefully, will be embraced by international organizations like W.H.O., the International Civil Aviation Organization and others so that the world can come together around these health standards. That’s really what we need to create a sense of confidence.”

And as the world recovers from the pandemic and more and more people take to the skies, Pinkerton stressed that U.S. airlines are doing everything they can to keep passengers healthy and safe – and those measures have proven to be highly effective.  

“Flying is incredibly safe,” Pinkerton explained. “We worked with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health earlier in the year, and they came out and looked at the variety of measures that airlines have in place from deep cleaning to mask-wearing to HEPA filters that are used in operating rooms and these types of risk-mitigation measures, and they came out and said it’s safer to fly than it is to go to a restaurant or to a grocery store. So, we feel good about the fact that it’s very, very safe to fly.”

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