Could This App Revive Air Travel?

CommonPass is an attempt to smooth out the differences in countries’ Covid-19 safety requirements

We know the seven-month air travel freeze has you nostalgic for $8 water bottles, damp sandwiches, and leg cramps. Good news: Those dreams could come true courtesy of a new app. 

CommonPass, which was created by tech nonprofit The Commons Project and the World Economic Forum, will be used on a trial basis on Cathay Pacific flights between Hong Kong and Singapore today. Later in the month, United will test it out on flights between Newark and London’s Heathrow. 

What CommonPass does

It takes countries’ wildly divergent requirements for air travel safety and lets passengers demonstrate they’re good to go—in most cases, by testing negative for Covid-19. 

  • It could solve a major obstacle to flying in the Covid era. Those different protocols for proving you’re virus-free have caused confusion for both travelers and airlines, and everyone from the industry to the CDC has been calling for a global, uniform system

How it works: Passengers get tested at CommonPass-supported labs, then upload their results to the app. If you’re negative, the app spits out a QR code you can then wield at Newark to certify you aren’t carrying the virus. 

Or at least…you weren’t when you got tested. Critics have pointed out holes in the CommonPass plan, including 1) the possibility of getting infected after being tested and 2) the tests still aren’t 100% accurate. 

  • Plus, it’s hard to overstate the power of the heebie-jeebies. People are reluctant to travel by plane these days, testing app or no testing app. 
  • Still, it’s a potential jump-start for the sputtering air travel sector, which has been the subject of intense emergency aid negotiations these past few days. 

Zoom out: Airports and airlines are spinning up their own testing schemes as safety-improving- and heebie-jeebie-reducing measures. Airports in Oakland and Hartford, CT,  are opening their own testing centers, while Hawaiian Airlines is offering passengers at-home saliva tests for $150. 


Via Morning Brew

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