Australians will be jetting overseas in a matter of days – and new technology to make sure you’re always Covid-safe isn’t far behind.
Travel in a post-Covid world is going to be very different.
With regulations different in every country, and coronavirus outbreaks still putting places into lockdown, airlines have had to go back to the drawing board to ensure travelling is still easy and safe.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has for months been working with airlines across the world, including Qantas, to develop a travel pass that will align with Covid regulations no matter where you’re flying.
Speaking at Sydney International Airport yesterday, ahead of Qantas’ global restart on Monday, the airline’s chief customer officer Stephanie Tully said Qantas was determined to “hold the hand” of their passengers from the moment they book a flight.
Showing prototypes of the Qantas app and the IATA travel pass, which could change over the next few weeks, Ms Tully ran through the steps passengers would be taken through after booking a flight.
Ms Tully said Qantas planned to “help our customers every step of the way”.
“No one should be turning up at the airport without knowing exactly what they needed to have done to get on the flight,” she added.
“We’ve developed some technology, some world-first technology, that will help us virtually hand hold our customers through the flight.”
Ms Tully said Qantas will start sending texts and app alerts as soon as a customer books with them about the latest government and travel requirements.
“Where it becomes particularly important is seven days out from a flight, that’s when you need to start doing a few things … so depending on the requirement of the destination, at seven days out we will contact customers so they know what to do in the lead up to travel … we’ll provide a checklist via SMS and email of exactly what customers need to do,” she said.
“Four days out, again we’ll SMS all customers because at that point you’ll need a PCR test, so we’re making sure our customers know that they need to do that and where they can do that.”
Customers can also get a discount on their PCR test if they book via Qantas.com, Ms Tully added.
Qantas will send out another alert closer to the day of departure, reminding customers to check in and ensuring they have all the necessary documents to fly.
The process will become even more streamlined when the IATA app comes online. It will sync a passenger’s vaccination status and negative test result with the airline’s system.
The IATA app will come online in December at the latest.
Through the IATA app, travellers will upload their vaccination certificate and any Covid test that’s relevant to their trip.
“That will connect to our check-in systems and you’ll get a big green tick,” Ms Tully said.
“So essentially when you arrive at the airport, all you’ll need to share with our staff is that big tick and your boarding pass and you’re good to go.
“Over the next few weeks, that will progressively be rolled in, but from day one we’re going to guide our customers so that travel feels easy.”
The IATA travel app will also include a map showing where travellers can gest tested overseas, if that’s a requirement of the country.
The app will also text you when your test results are in.
“Find out if you’re eligible to travel,” the app says.
Ms Tully said the coronavirus situation was constantly changing and she hoped things would change soon.
“The new technology, for example the IATA travel pass, that will streamline the journey even further,” she said.
“The world of post-Covid travel will continually evolve over the next 12 months, so our job at Qantas is to help our customers through those changes.
“What exists next week probably won’t exist in the next few months; testing will probably change, quarantine as we know it has already changed.”