Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

CommonPass Passes the Test on Its First Transatlantic Flight

Digital health technology securely shares travelers’ COVID-19 status to enable safer cross-border travel

October 22, 2020

In a global initiative to enable safer air and cross-border travel, The Commons Project Foundation has announced the first successful transatlantic test of its CommonPass digital health pass. The service on which the test was conducted was United Airlines Flight 15 from London Heathrow to Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 21. 


The CommonPass and the CommonPass Framework is designed to enable safer airline and cross-border travel by giving both travelers and governments confidence in each traveler’s verified COVID-19 status. 


At present, COVID-19 test results for travel are frequently shared on printed paper — or photos of the paper – from unknown labs, often written in languages foreign to those inspecting them. There is no standard format or certification system. 


The purpose of the trip was to establish the viability of a verified “digital health pass,” which provides a global framework for lab results and vaccination records to be verified and shared with border control. 


The initiative was launched by the Commons Project and the World Economic Forum to find a long-term solution to replace travel bans and quarantines with the ability to verify individual health and test result data while maintaining privacy standards. 


Prior to departure, passengers downloaded the CommonPass app, answered screening questions and took a COVID-19 test at the airport. A negative test result generated a digital health pass via a QR code, which allowed them to board the flight in London. 


One of the passengers was J.D. O’Hara, CEO of Internova Travel Group, one of the largest travel services companies in the world. O’Hara said that the ability to verify health information in a secure, verified manner “will allow countries and regions to open borders and restart the travel industry along with the economic activity that comes with it.” 


According to O’Hara, the CommonPass pilot “demonstrates that we have a means of enabling safer cross-border travel by giving both travelers and governments confidence in the COVID-19 status of every traveler.”


In a statement, US Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said, “The US and global economies simply cannot afford to wait for a widely distributed COVID vaccine for international travel to resume, so innovative technologies and the embrace of best health practices need to provide the way forward. A rapid and secure means of verifying travelers’ COVID status is an important component of that.”


The successful transatlantic test follows an earlier trial on a Cathay Pacific fligth between Hong Kong and Singapore on Oct. 6.