Weekly Newsletter 14th May
Friday 14th May 2021
BA to trial virtual queuing system at London Heathrow
British Airways will trial a new intelligent virtual queuing system to avoid long lines and close contact with other customers.
The Covid-safe system is developed by tech firm Qmatic by allowing customers to virtually queue at check-in by pre-booking their slot time in advance of arriving at the airport.
An optional service for customers, it will be trialled by BA for three months on selected flights departing from Heathrow Terminal 5.
Customers will be sent an email before travel inviting them to book their personal check-in time.
They will be notified when it is time for a customer to check-in, allowing them to then simply go to the dedicated desk and the airline's customer service team will be able to assist.
Customers who have not booked a check-in slot through Qmatic, can proceed as normal, or have the option to join a virtual queue when they arrive at the airport by scanning a QR code.
British Airways will be the first airline to trial Qmatic, which is currently used extensively in the public sector, retail, healthcare and financial organisations around the world, including BP Service Stations, the Tate Modern and the Post Office in the UK.
Declan Pollard, British Airways' Head of Heathrow Customer Experience, said: "In this new Covid-19 era we know that customers have been travelling less frequently than they normally would, and in most cases not at all. We understand many people will feel unfamiliar with the airport journey, so we are committed to exploring how technology can simplify that experience for them."
"We think this technology, coupled with digital travel apps, will help efficiently manage the flow of customers in the airport at any one time and give our customers reassurance."
Mark Brackley, Managing Director of Jade Solutions, the exclusive supplier of Qmatic in the UK, added "The intelligent queuing solution will provide British Airways' customers with the ability to add themselves to a virtual queue and see their position change in real-time, all from their phone."
British Airways is also trialling digital travel apps to ensure customers meet the entry requirements for their destination before arriving at the airport.
The airline's customers can currently use VeriFLY on all flights to the US, Canada and France, as well as on all inbound flights.
The airline has also been assisting in the development of the IATA Travel Pass.
British Airways' customers also travelling to Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal, can now also upload their negative Covid-19 test result and other documentation directly into ba.com for verification before travel.
Advantage Secures COVID-19 PCR Testing with UK’s largest Company
The Advantage Travel Partnership, the UK’s largest travel agent consortium, has confirmed a new partnership with the UK’s largest COVID-19 PCR testing company, Randox Health to support members and provide customers with the best value for money on testing.
The partnership comes hot on the heels of Randox hitting the news earlier this month when they confirmed they had halved the cost of a COVID-19 PCR test to £60 in response to the UK Government calls to drive down the cost of testing to make travel financially viable for British holidaymakers this summer.
The agreement is the first in place with a travel agent consortium meaning members of Advantage can pass this offer directly to their customers significantly cutting the cost of testing. Randox Health who provide both PCR and lateral flow tests usually charge £120 however, by using an exclusive code consumers can access the tests at a reduced price.
Once the Advantage code is passed onto the customer, they can access the website, www.randoxhealth.com, use the code and purchase the test. The kit will be sent to the customers’ home address where they will do the test and drop it at one of the 120 drop boxes or partner clinics across the UK. The swabs are collected by the extensive Randox logistics network and taken to one of the labs for processing. The results will be sent back to the customer within 24-hours.
German Government lifts COVID-19 quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers
As of 13 May 2021 (date of planned entry into Germany) new regulations will apply for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany.
The most important points at-a-glance:
•Fully vaccinated or recovered persons are exempt from the testing requirement. However, this does not apply to entry from virus variant areas: Here, proof of testing is still required prior to departure
•Travelers are considered vaccinated if they have completed their vaccination series more than 14 days ago with a vaccine approved in the EU. These are currently the vaccines from BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The proof of recovery must be a PCR/LAMP/TMA test proof that is at least 28 days and at most six months old
•The negative Covid-19 test result at time of departure, which may be required for entry, must be done no more than 48 hours (antigen)* or – new – no more than 72 hours (PCR, RT-LAMP or TMA) before the time of entry into Germany (time of swab)
•Certificates are accepted in English, French, German, Italian or Spanish; self-tests are not valid
•Fully vaccinated or recovered persons are exempt from quarantine when entering Germany from risk and high incidence areas. Passengers who have tested negative are also exempt from quarantine when entering from risk areas. This requires uploading proof of vaccination/immunity or testing as part of the Digital Registration on Entry (DEA). Alternatively, proof can be provided to health authorities after entry
•The Digital Registration on Entry (DEA) remains mandatory for all travelers, regardless of risk classification. There are only a few exceptions to these rules
•The above-mentioned proof of vaccination/immunity and testing requirements also apply to transfer passengers who are entering Germany for transit purposes only. The only exceptions are transfer passengers traveling from a non-Schengen state to a non-Schengen state
Qantas postpones international flight restart to late 2021
Qantas has extended its pause on scheduled international flights until at least the end of the year.
The flag carrier remains confident about new international travel bubbles opening up before then but doesn't expect general overseas air travel to commence until late December.
This is due to the general Covid situation in the region as well as Australia's stuttering vaccine rollout.
"We remain optimistic that additional bubbles will open once Australia's vaccine rollout is complete to countries which are in a similar position, but it's difficult to predict which ones at this stage," Qantas said in a statement.
"This planning assumption will allow the Qantas Group - and Australia - to be ready to take advantage of pockets of tourism and trade opportunity as they emerge. We will keep reviewing these plans as we move towards December and circumstances evolve."
Currently Australia has an air travel bubble with New Zealand and there have been talks with other nations such as Singapore.
Confusion over green list travel to Portugal
Just days before green list quarantine-free overseas travel to set to start, a big question mark hangs over travel to Portugal.
Although designated a green list country, Portugal has extended its lockdown measures until the end of May.
That leaves the first British holidaymakers hoping to jet off to Portugal facing uncertainty.
Portuguese officials approved a move to continue the current level of lockdown but haven't said whether that will prevent inbound tourism.
Portuguese Cabinet office minister Mariana Vieira da Silva said she had 'no information to give yet' regarding entry for holidaymakers.
The second highest level of restrictions is termed as a 'state of calamity' in Portugal.
Proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within 72 hours is required.
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