Qantas Considers Requiring Passengers To Be Covid-19 Vaccinated Before Traveling With Them

Posted Nov 23, 2020

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce has said that his team is looking to change the airline’s terms and conditions so that travelers will need to show that they have been Covid-19 vaccinated before boarding one of their aircraft in the future.

In a interview on Australian TV show “A Current Affair”, Joyce was asked whether Qantas would enforce policies requiring that travelers be vaccinated when flying with the airline. He said:

“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travelers that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft. Whether you need that domestically, we’ll have to see what happens with Covid-19 and the market, but certainly for international visitors coming out and people leaving the country, we think that’s a necessity.”

While the decision is not set in stone yet, it appears that international travelers will be the first to be subjected to new policies should they decide to make it a requirement to board a Qantas aircraft.

The requirement sounds reasonable as many countries located in the tropics require confirmation of a Yellow fever shot, but it will be interesting to see how this new measure will be implemented. Immunization fraud might not be a big deal when it comes to Yellow fever, but with the whole world being affected by Covid-19, people are desperate to travel, and it wouldn’t surprise me if passengers try to fake vaccine confirmations in order to get on flights, should this concept be adopted by other airlines.

The only way I could see this working is if a central or country database is set up to verify passenger names and their immunization cards with batch numbers and administration dates. Otherwise, who is going to stop me from copy and pasting someone else’s card with some edits and presenting it as my own?

The decision to enforce such a policy could be more than a year away. Even though countries may be able to receive and administer the first set of batches (hopefully) from early next year, it will take some time before the majority of the world population has access to the vaccine, making it a challenging policy to implement any time soon.

If more airlines do decide to implement such a policy, now would be a good time for them to collaborate with government bodies to come up with a solution to address multiple scenarios like:

  • How will vaccine data be accurately verified at the airport?
  • Will vaccinated travelers still need to be tested as a precaution?
  • Would vaccinated travelers be allowed relaxed benefits beyond the flight?
  • Will airlines eventually draw a solid line and block non-vaccinated travelers from being able to fly?

[Featured Photo: Mitchul Hope/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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