As vaccination efforts increase around the globe, more people are getting the itch to travel after staying close to home for a year.
With people looking at the possibility of visiting international destinations, something that could become integral to post-pandemic travel would be “vaccine passports.” Several companies are working on different methods to show if a person has received COVID-19 shots or recently tested negative for the virus. Something like this could come in the form of a QR code or paper document.
Officials with President Joe Biden’s administration have said they would not enforce such documentation at a federal level, as they believe it is best for private businesses to do what works for them.
Nothing is set in stone on how vaccine passports would look for airlines, and it may look different depending on who you fly with.
At Kansas City International Airport, officials said there is not anything currently in the works locally for such a program, although that could change depending on what other entities require.
“We are working with local groups in the industry to try to understand the best practice in our role in that and what it would be,” Justin Meyer, deputy director of aviation at KCI said. “We would certainly coordinate and work with federal guidelines, as we do with anything. The FAA or TSA drives everything that we deal with. As those rules are updated, we will do what we need to do to comply.”
IBM, Microsoft and Cerner are some companies working on mobile apps or QR codes to show people have tested negative or have gotten the vaccines. Since they are being developed in private companies, there has not been any need for prep work as nothing official has been set by the federal government. And there might not be vaccine passports required at all due to the complex nature of the situation.
“I would not see how they would be able to do it or how they would do it,” Abe Forney, the general manager at Rosecrans Memorial Airport, said. “What is most important is that everyone is comfortable with flying again. As long as everyone becomes comfortable and starts traveling, get them back in the seats and fly. That is what we want.”
Forney knows how an airport functions and how difficult it can be to manage people going through security checks. However, he does believe that if there is a vaccine passport requirement, the industry would adapt quickly.
“Initially it would be new and slow some of the process down, but I think we would adapt pretty quickly and figure it out,” Forney said.
Vaccine passports could be put in use — at least for a time — by cruise lines. The industry still is reeling from the pandemic and needs a way to show passengers that they are able to travel safely.
One local travel agent said he has noticed an influx of people booking trips since vaccination rollout has begun.
“We have been jam-packed here the last few weeks with people wanting to book a vacation,” Chad Cotter, the manager at Totally Trips, LLC, said. “I think the cruise lines are looking at COVID passports because it is a way to build confidence and get things rolling, but I don’t think it will be a permanent thing.”