As the world stumbles into 2021 in a matter of days, life, as we know it, will never be normal again, referring to good ol’ days of the pre-pandemic.
For months, readers may have heard us discuss “COVID passports,” “immunity passports,” or at least speak on the subject of those who don’t get tested for COVID-19 or vaccinated will face travel restrictions.
Well, from conspiracy theory to conspiracy fact, Singapore Airlines this week is the first major carrier to introduce a digital health certificate to verify passengers’ testing history and vaccination status.
On Dec. 23, the new digital health verification process was rolled out for passengers traveling on flights operated by the carrier from Jakarta or Kuala Lumpur to Singapore, according to a Singapore Airlines press release.
The airline explains passengers will take COVID-19 tests at local clinics in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and be issued “digital or paper health certificates with a QR code.” These forms of immunity passes will be checked by airport security and Singapore’s immigration authority.
“This is a faster and more secure way to validate a passenger’s health credentials than the existing protocols, speeding up both the airport check-in process and the immigration entry process into Singapore. It would make it easier for SIA customers to control their information, reduce friction during their travel journey, and result in a more seamless experience with the aid of digital technologies in the new normal,” the airline said.
JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines, said the rollout of immunity passports “will be an integral part of air travel for the foreseeable future.”
In October, passengers flying from London’s Heathrow Airport to Newark on a United Airlines flight were part of a pilot program to test passengers for the virus.
Just weeks ago, Lance Gokongwei, President and CEO of Cebu Pacific, the Philippines’ largest budget airline, announced health passports would be “essential” for travel.
Even after the virus pandemic ends, these health passports will be sticking around and could offer evidence that a traveler has been vaccinated – not just for COVID-19, but any other disease.