If all goes as planned, Singapore Airlines should be expanding the digital health verification system to more destinations, pandemic circumstances permitting.

The world’s first airline to pilot the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) Travel Pass mobile app for digital health verification has been announced, involving passengers travelling from Singapore to London from 15 – 28 Mar 2021.

This is after a successful trial in December last year, where Singapore Airlines’ digital health verification process became the first in the world to be based on IATA’s Travel Pass framework, and allowed customers to easily and securely manage their travel administration amid global border restrictions.

Through the Travel Pass app, travelers can offer proof of their health status (including being tested recently for COVID-19) and have this certification recognized by many if not most airports (hopefully soon).

Only for iPhone users

Take the first trial performed last year. Passengers who took their COVID-19 tests at selected clinics in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur were given either digital or paper health certificates with a QR code. Airport check-in staff and Singapore’s immigration authority verified the authenticity of these certificates via a secure mobile app, and ensured that the customers met Singapore’s entry requirements.

The trial has since recorded more than 200 successful health certificate verifications by SIA check-in staff, with no fraudulent certificates detected. In the next phase of the trial, travelers will be flying from Singapore to London in mid- to late March.

The caveat is that only passengers with Apple mobile phones can take advantage of the seamless health status verification system. Those who have such devices can download the IATA Travel Pass app and create a digital ID comprising their profile photo and passport information. They can also insert their flight information into the app.

Subsequently, travelers can book their pre-departure COVID-19 test at one of seven participating clinics in Singapore via a dedicated online portal. They can then register at the clinic using the digital ID and flight information in the app. They will be able to view their test results, as well as confirmation status to fly, directly on the app. IATA’s Timatic registry will provide the back-end information on the COVID-19 testing and entry requirements. Participants will need to show their confirmed status in the app to the check-in staff in Changi Airport before flight departure. In line with current regulatory requirements, they will also need to carry a physical copy of their health certificate issued by the clinic where they took their COVID-19 test.

What are the benefits?

By consolidating the verification of health credentials into a single app, the system

  • enables participants to enjoy a faster and more seamless check-in process in airports recognizing the system.
  • grants participants full control over how their personal information is shared, as the data is stored locally in the mobile phone and not in any central database. This is critical given the highly sensitive nature of health data.
  • if successful in the second phase, will pave the way for the integration of the entire digital health verification process into the SingaporeAir mobile app from around mid-2021, again using IATA’s Travel Pass framework.
  • will be expanded to more travel destinations, towards the eventual restoration of a seamless travel experience for travelers.

What about vaccination status? According to JoAnn Tan, Acting Senior Vice President, Marketing Planning, Singapore Airlines: “The first phase of the trials helped to support SIA’s drive towards a secure and convenient industry standard for the verification of COVID-19 test results, and the health status of passengers including their vaccination status, in the future. That gives us the confidence that in the second phase, we can further streamline the verification process for eventual integration into the mobile application. This will help to provide a hassle-free digital solution for customers … and help to bring about a more seamless travel experience.”