Travel in the time of COVID – tech is making your overseas trip less painful than you think
Fans of overseas travel are no doubt excited about Singapore moving towards living with covid and more Vaccinated Travel Lanes opening up – allowing people to go to countries like Germany, Spain, South Korea, Indonesia, Finland, and India without the need to quarantine upon arrival and upon return.
Still, the potential hassle of travelling in the time of Covid and safety concerns may be holding some back from dusting off their passports.
If this describes the dilemma you are facing about whether to organise a year-end trip, read on. Knowing how tech is making travel more seamless and safer may well help you arrive at a decision!
Traveling soon? Tech can help smoothen out the bumps in the road! Photo Credit:Unsplash.com
Vaccine certification and authentication digitalised
Many of you are no doubt familiar with the Google Pay app that enables cashless payments, but did you know that your vaccination certificate can also be stored there? This feature is all the more important since a lot of travel now depends on whether one is vaccinated and clear of Covid before travel. Proof of vaccination and pre-departure results need to be tamper-proof, convenient to present, and easily authenticated.
The tech powering the digital vaccination certificates is HealthCerts, a digital open standard for test results and vaccination certification. The system ensures tamper-proof e-documents can be shared with travel authorities. The open eco-system means private companies and public entities can easily opt in.
HealthCert providers give issuance service to clinics and labs. So far, there are 14 providers that are connected to over 700 institutions which have presence in around 30 places such as Canada, France, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.
Contactless boarding procedure
The pandemic has made us think twice about what we touch, so the boarding process has been revamped to minimise contact with surfaces and others.
For starters, online and mobile check-in is increasingly replacing the need to queue at counters. The Singapore Airlines (SIA) app can even generate a digital boarding pass that enables passengers to proceed through the airport.
Passengers can also use the app to declare the number of baggage and auto print their baggage tags at the airport.
Even if there is a need to use check-in kiosks, there are now 160 newly installed ones with proximity touch screens that can track finger movements using infrared sensors. Users can thus use the kiosks through gestures instead of touching the screen.
As for immigration clearance, facial and iris recognition is replacing fingerprint scanning as the primary biometric identifier at Changi Airport. Be sure to check if your facial and iris biometric information has been enrolled with the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority!
Mobile app for in-flight entertainment and reading
A big part of the pleasure of flying is no doubt the in-flight entertainment system (movies, games, music!) and the magazines stuffed into the seat pocket, where you can pick up nuggets of information about the place you’re headed to.
The aviation industry has been moving towards incorporating passengers’ mobile devices into the inflight entertainment system in recent years, but the pandemic has accelerated this trend.
Passengers on selected SIA aircraft can operate the inflight entertainment system using the SIA app on their mobile devices, eliminating the need to touch the aircrafts’ touchscreens.
And though inflight magazines have been removed, passengers have access to an even wider selection of reading material now on the SIA app, with titles like National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveller, and Harvard Business Review available in SIA’s e-library.
One-stop map for travel regulations
If your choice of destination is heavily dependent on the travel regulations in place for that country, check out this map by the International Air Transport Association. You can click on any country and the latest list of travel regulations or restrictions will be displayed. The map is also colour coded in terms of the restrictiveness of the rules in place for each country.
Not quite spinning a globe and heading off to the place where your finger lands on, but close enough in our time of pandemic.
Do double check the regulations with other sources as we have learnt by now that the pandemic situation changes quickly.
The world is still your oyster
With the right attitude and digital tools, travelling during these times can still be pulled off and be enjoyable!
And when you’re back from your adventure, you will not only have tales and photos to share, but Covid travel hacks as well.