A trial will begin this week at Heathrow aimed at simplifying entry for fully vaccinated passengers.
Volunteers on selected British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flights will show proof of their vaccine status ahead of reaching immigration. The trial aims to reassure the government that airlines and airports can check vaccine status before passport control, alleviating pressure on Border Force staff.
Volunteers will use a dedicated arrivals lane, with those who have had their second jab 14 days before departure eligible to take part. BA customers are also able to access a discounted arrivals test rate.
Internationally recognised vaccination credentials accepted in the proving trial include the NHS app, CDC card, US state-level digital certification and EU Digital Covid Credential.
BA will also support customers’ vaccine verification through the VeriFLY app, while Virgin Atlantic customers can verify their vaccine certificate through a new digital uploader. It is hoped to eventually add the Iata Travel Pass to the list of credentials.
The initiative will involve volunteers travelling on selected flights from Athens, Los Angeles, Montego Bay and New York. The two airlines will contact passengers asking them to participate, with Virgin passengers from Montego Bay permitted to offer paper as well as digital certification.
Sean Doyle, BA chief executive and chairman, said: “We are already helping our customers show proof of their vaccination status when travelling to a number of other countries outside the UK which require it, and we’re confident we can make this happen for entry to Britain too, very quickly.
“We look forward to providing the data that proves it’s simple for fully vaccinated status to be verified and to the government meeting its commitment to get the country moving again.”
Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic chief executive, added: “Our proof-of-concept trial on selected US and Caribbean routes demonstrates our readiness as an industry to rapidly operationalise the new policy, and work with government and authorities to ensure it is smoothly implemented at pace, supporting the reopening of the transatlantic corridor, without which £23 million is lost each day from the UK economy.”