Airlines Are Testing an App to Help Verify Passengers' COVID-19 Test Results

The hope is the app will make pandemic travel easier.

an airport guests holds phone displaying CommonPass App
Photo: The Commons Project

United Airlines and Cathay Pacific are testing an app to make global travel a little smoother as the pandemic persists.

The app, called CommonPass, verifies that passengers have tested negative for COVID-19 and are in compliance with entry requirements at their destination. Once a passenger uploads negative test results from an approved lab to their phone, they’ll receive a QR code that can be scanned during travel to ensure compliance with evolving local regulations.

United is testing the system with passengers traveling between London and New York, and Cathay Pacific is testing it with passengers traveling between Hong Kong and Singapore. Should the tests go well, it's likely the app will be deployed across additional airlines and routes.

“Without the ability to trust COVID-19 tests – and eventually vaccine records – across international borders, many countries will feel compelled to retain full travel bans and mandatory quarantines for as long as the pandemic persists,” Dr. Brad Perkins, chief medical officer of The Commons Project said in an announcement.

Several countries and U.S. states have instituted COVID-19 testing requirements as they’ve begun reopening to visitors. Uganda, Belize, Dubai, and Alaska are among the places requiring all visitors to arrive within 72 hours of testing negative for coronavirus. Hawaii is planning to reopen this month to passengers with negative test results, and several airlines — including United — are planning to offer testing services to passengers headed to the state.

The CommonPass can be programmed to meet the specific restrictions a municipality has enacted to stem the spread of coronavirus, and it should make it easier for travelers to keep up with what can be rapidly changing travel restrictions.

The CommonPass was created by the World Economic Forum and the Commons Project Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, and eventually plans to include vaccination records.

Meena Thiruvengadam is a Travel + Leisure contributor who has visited 50 countries on six continents and 47 U.S. states. She loves historic plaques, wandering new streets, and walking on beaches. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles