Will Airlines Demand Real-Time Vaccination Proof Or Testing Results As A Condition Of Travel?

With a vaccine for Covid-19 seeming like a real possibility next year, but taking time to roll out broadly across the population, companies whose activities bring large groups together are working to figure out how to do that faster. One way is through technology to ensure that everyone congregating indoors is likely to be free of the virus.

Ticketmaster Plans To Require Digital Proof Of Vaccination Or Negative Test To Attend Events

Ticketmaster has a plan to bring back large-scale events that involves real verification that all attendees have either been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have had a recent negative test.

They’ll use a third part health pass company “like CLEAR or IBM” to deliver the results to the Ticketmaster app. For privacy reasons, Ticketmaster would only get an ‘ok to attend’ or ‘not ok’ message and wouldn’t see any medical records. The ticketing monopoly expects the technology to become available soon,

To date, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any third-party companies to provide the complex technology needed to deliver real-time vaccination results, but Ticketmaster president Mark Yovich expects the demand for digital screening services — which will be needed for airline travel, employment verification and theme park entry — will attract a new wave of investors and entrepreneurs to fuel the growth of a new COVID-19 technology sector.

“We’re already seeing many third-party health care providers prepare to handle the vetting — whether that is getting a vaccine, taking a test, or other methods of review and approval – which could then be linked via a digital ticket so everyone entering the event is verified,” Yovich tells Billboard.

Knowing Everyone Else Is Safe Could Bring Back Customers

At the end of the day assuring customers everyone else they’re traveling with is likely safe would go a long way towards bringing back travel, though people would still need the point of the trip to be worthwhile meaning that offices would have to be open, activities in a destination would have to be operating. However once we have widespread adoption of a vaccine, if it’s indeed highly effective, we could bring back conferences and large scale events.

Airlines Might Not Make The IT Investment – And Might Not Need To

Even though ensuring everyone on a flight is Covid-free might bring back customers – and United is experimenting with mandatory testing prior to some Newark – London Heathrow flights – it’s possible airlines would be reluctant to make the IT investments necessary to get real-time verifiable testing results or proof of vaccination imported into their apps – preferring instead to continue insisting that passengers self-certify their health status.

On the other hand American Airlines President Robert Isom shared at the Baird Global conference this morning that a “medical report wallet through Verifly” is coming to help open up travel to the Caribbean.

This will be for passengers flying Miami to Montego Bay or Kingston, Jamaica starting November 18. At this point it’s a voluntary way to have eligibility for travel preverified, and customers in Miami using it “will be provided an expedited entry lane for testing verification in the North Terminal” where they show their ‘pass’ validation on the app. There’s no integration into American’s IT systems with this solution.

Ultimately though if a vaccine is as effective as Pfizer has suggested theirs is (could it even be 97% effective so far in the trial?), if Moderna’s vaccine using similar mRNA technology is in the same range of effectiveness, we may start to get enough supply of a vaccine that really works next year that all these issues about proving health could become moot in a matter of months. Vaccinating half the population with that level of effectiveness would severely limit the ability of the virus to spread.

Since the summer I’ve written that large scale, cheap and easily accessible testing, linked to an app to prove results, would be a way to bring back everything from amusement parks to events to in-restaurant dining. Just take your daily test and scan a code wherever you go.

However widespread availability of effective vaccines, coupled with scaling up of highly effective treatments, could make this largely moot in the west.

Much Of The World Will Still Need To Verify Customers Are Covid-Free

Unfortunately much of the world may take longer to get access to these potentially life-saving innovations. mRNA vaccines, especially, that have to be stored at temperatures well below freezing and monoclonal antibodies that are difficult and costly to produce may be out of reach for some time in Africa, parts of South and Central Asia, and elsewhere for a long time. Expect to show proof of negative test or vaccination to enter long after such requirements dissipate in the West.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. There are a lot of us with antibodies who’d appreciate traditional travel & entertainment options again (safely) as well

  2. Why can’t people see past this pandemic to the fact that allowing companies to demand access to personal health information as a prerequisite to doing business is a terrible precident to set?

  3. Typhoid kills healthy people, I demand proof you’ve been vaccinated for Typhoid, Rubella, and Chicken Pox, cause my granddad might be on a flight.

    @Doug – You’re absolutely right; GDPR is absolutely worthless, worrying about business mobile numbers being considered PII while travelers are forced to divulge health conditions to both private parties and foreign governments. GDPR was expressly created to give individuals with EU citizenship control over the data that private companies had, or could retain, about their person. I have been through too many damned GDPR reviews on client projects where I have to prove their email address isn’t stored outside of XXX country, or their IP address isn’t being stored (all while on company equipment and on company business) to let this slide.

    I might ask, where are the German DPAs (Data Protection Authorities?) You’re aggressive as hell pursuing even medical companies trying to match donors to recipients for biologic products, but now, meh, you’re not interested? Is it because there’s nobody to sue because of force majeure? The Europeans have complained incessantly, and at great length, the collection of fingerprints and other biometrics (which plenty of non US countries do) that the Americans want to do. Yet, what is being proposed is equivalent to asking to provide proof you’ve been vaccinated against HIV, or prove that you’re negative.

    Despicable in your double standards on human rights.

  4. @Joe

    Good job being willfully dense. Typhoid does kill people but it’s only spread via faeces, and isn’t currently in a worldwide outbreak. Unless your granddad is routinely sampling the water from the local sewer system, he’s not at risk of contracting it.

    The proposed solution is simply a flag stating yes/no as to whether you’ve received a vaccine or had a recent negative test; it’s not providing a complete medical history, or any sort of PHI other than that one marker.

  5. Gary

    D614G is old news….

    Predominant mutation NOW. But others are rising. Hard to keep track of all of them. I’ve stopped.


    I said it many months ago, I expect a “Vaccine” will provide a temporary relief, but whoever “is meant” to get sick/die will just do that…. IFR is really low now…expect that to increase not only with winter, but over the years.

    Cuz “we” don’t know the true cause of all this….but no sense in spitting that out. Few want to hear that.

  6. I’d love to see some kind of system which allows proof of vaccination, or presence of anti-bodies, for those of us that have it. IMHO, even if one brings negative test results which are taken outside of the airport, (s)he could’ve gotten infected since.

  7. Pointless….


    People can have low antibodies and not be sick. it doesn’t mean much of anything.


    Enough of this immunity passport talk….tests are unreliable, etc…life is a risk.

    Just got back from Mexico, no PCR test required. Unless I have a strong desire, not going anywhere that requires PCR tests in 72 hours…unreasonable time.

  8. “Typhoid does kill people but it’s only spread via faeces”
    All the more reason to avoid the lavatories as much as possible on 13 hour flights to 3rd world countries. I’ve seen things I can’t erase from my mind.

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