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Emirates is hoping to make it easier to get to and from the United Arab Emirates amid the pandemic.
The health data tech is one of many ways the airline is hoping to make visiting Dubai easier for international travelers (whenever they are ready to travel again), including free COVID-19 health coverage and rebuilding its U.S. route network.
Emirates has linked up with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to give its passengers access to the recently created IATA Travel Pass. The mobile app allows users to find out the COVID-19 entry requirements for their destination and then upload their COVID-19 testing information (and eventually vaccine status) as needed.
The IATA Travel Pass is the latest in a series of digital health “passports” that have been developed in the wake of the pandemic, all with the aim of giving travelers digitized access to their health data to make verification easier.
IATA’s version serves as a global registry of health requirements, providing passengers with up-to-date information on travel, testing, and eventually vaccine requirements for their journey. (IATA already has a version of this with its very useful interactive COVID-19 travel restrictions map.)
It will also provide a global listing of testing and vaccination centers, which lets passengers know where to find testing centers and labs at their departure and arrival locations. Authorized labs and test centers will share test and vaccination information securely with passengers, who will then be able to store the data in the app and verify that their COVID tests or vaccines meet the requirements of the destination.
Travelers can then share the test and vaccination certificates with airlines and border authorities to facilitate travel.
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Emirates is the first airline to trial the IATA Travel Pass. The initial phase of the new partnership will begin in Dubai in April and will allow the airline to validate passengers’ negative COVID-19 PCR test results prior to departure. Passengers departing the United Arab Emirates will be able to upload their test results through the app, and their details will then auto-populate into Emirates’ check-in process.
“We have worked with IATA on this innovative solution to simplify and digitally transmit the information that is required by countries and governments into our airline systems,” Emirates chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said in a statement.
Emirates’ partnership with the IATA Travel Pass comes as the airline recently announced that it will be resuming nonstop services between Dubai and three major U.S. markets in the coming weeks—Seattle on February 1, and Dallas and San Francisco on March 1—as demand for international travel slowly begins to rebound.
The resumption of service to those three hubs will increase Emirates’ North American network to 10 destinations, including Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.
The airline is also increasing service to and from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
U.S. travelers flying to Dubai must present a negative COVID‑19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result procured no more than 96 hours before departure. Children under the age of 12 are exempt as are passengers with a moderate or severe disability. Travelers may be asked to take a second COVID-19 test upon arrival in Dubai.
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Emirates is also offering its passengers complimentary COVID-19 coverage for all classes of travel that is valid for 31 days from the day of departure and covers COVID-19 health expenses up to $180,000 and quarantine costs of $120 per day for up to 14 days.
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