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How to Use Technology to Prepare for Travel During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Once you’ve figured out the logistics to get in and get out, you will have more homework to do. Don’t expect your favorite airport restaurants or lounges to be operating normally. Before leaving home, check your airport website to see what’s open near your terminal; if your options are lacking, pack a meal. Likewise, when you arrive at your destination, make sure to check the websites for the restaurants and tourist sites that you hope to visit for their hours. The travel industry is far from returning to normal.

Keep up on vaccine passports.

Airlines may require travelers to present a vaccine passport, digital documentation proving that they have been vaccinated to make traveling smoother. Airlines have been testing mobile health apps including CommonPass, ICC AOKpass, VeriFLY, and the International Air Transport Association’s travel pass app to ensure travelers can present their health data in a secure, verifiable way.

Most of the apps will, in theory, work like this: If you get vaccinated at a medical facility, the app connects with the database of that facility to retrieve your information. The app then loads a QR code, a digital bar code, verifying that the vaccine was administered. You could then show that bar code at the airport check-in counter, the boarding gate, or immigration control.

Too much is still up in the air with vaccine passports for widespread use, Mr. Harteveldt said. Airlines, government agencies, and cruise lines are still testing the apps to determine which products are reliable and easy to use. If different parties require people to download other passport apps, things could get chaotic, and many experiments may fail. Vaccine passports have also set off a fierce political debate over the legality of requiring digital credentials for an ostensibly voluntary vaccine. (The Biden administration has said it would not push for mandatory vaccination credentials or a federal vaccine database.) So the best we can do with vaccine passports right now is nothing. Don’t upload your data to any of the apps just yet — but when it comes time to travel, do check your airline’s website for updates on vaccine passports and follow the instructions.

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