I returned from Costa Rica a few days ago after spending nearly a week eating and drinking everything in sight. While it was the rainy season, we were still able to have a somewhat decent trip. Prior to entering Costa Rica, I had to complete the Health Pass. Since I was vaccinated, I did not have any issues enter the country. My friend, on the hand, had to purchase insurance offered at the airport even though he had a policy through Allianz.
On the return to the United States, I had two mandatory items to complete: 1) COVID test and 2)VeriFLY. While the COVID test was fairly straightforward, I had not used VeriFLY because this was my first time out of the US since the pandemic began.
What exactly is VeriFLY? According to American Airlines, it is a mobile health passport app used for a seamless and contactless airport experience. VeriFLY allows passengers to complete health requirements and avoid wait times at the airport.
This was the first message I received from the American Airlines’ app when I tried to check in 24 hours prior to takeoff (normal for any flight). I already had the VeriFLY app downloaded so I closed the American Airlines’ app and opened the VeriFly app.
Let me stop here for a second: I will admit VeriFLY was easy to navigate as I was able to get verified within 15 minutes. As far as “seamless, contactless and avoiding wait times at the airport”, my experience was far from it. I tried to enter the regular queue in the airport to check my bag since I was already checked in but was pointed to a kiosk where agents were waiting. In addition to verifying my paper COVID results, the agent wanted to see the VeriFLY completion status. Why? I did it already in the American Airlines app. For some reason the American Airlines kiosks do not have the capability to show VeriFly completion status.
Ok, let me get back to the VeriFLY app.
The first thing I had to do was load a trip. This included selecting where I was traveling and then loading the details of the trip. In this case, it was a flight but there is an option to load a cruise on Viking. The information loaded into VeriFLY has to be the same as airline/cruise reservation. I assumed since American Airlines and VeriFLY share information, this would have been pre-populated.
Note: Anyone about the age of 2, entering or transiting the US, must have a negative COVID test taken within three days from leaving the first embarkation point.
The flight details were directly from my American Airlines’ itinerary.
Once the trip details are loaded, a three step checklist, which has to be done in order, is loaded. Step 1 of the checklist is COVID-19 Test Review.
There are two options for the review: 1) results provided directly from select Test Providers or 2) passengers input their results with the Manual Upload option. I selected Manual Upload since I had the results in an email. This was as straightforward as could be. I input the specifics of the test and uploaded a copy of the .pdf. The next screen informed me that the results had been successfully submitted for review.
The review for the COVID-19 test turned yellow on my checklist while pending.
I received the following email from VeriFLY during the wait.
As soon as I went back to my checklist in the VeriFly app, the review was complete (as noted by the green check mark) and I could continue on to step 2 of the checklist.
Step 2 of the checklist was Passenger Attestation. This was getting confirmation of a negative test or recovery from COVID from the traveler or their designated representative. Only one option was able to be selected.
Step 3 of the checklist was a confirmation of everything I input: 1) valid passport and 2) printed copy of negative COVID test.
Once the third step was complete, the checklist, trip, and VeriFLY status on American Airlines turned green. In the words of my favorite dude, Rocky from Paw Patrol, “green means go!”
The VeriFLY app was simple to navigate. As I mentioned, the entire process took less than 15 minutes. If you add in the 45 minutes standing in line for a COVID test, the process took an hour.
While I appreciate the idea of the VeriFLY app, I feel there are some things that need to be fixed. 1) why should I have to carry a printed copy of the negative COVID test when I uploaded it on the VeriFly app and have the results in an email? 2) why did the travel agents ask COVID related questions before I was allowed to check my bag even though I did it through VeriFLY and American Airlines? I understand checks and balances but if the process were truly “seamless”, I would expect to not have any issues/delays at the airport in regards to COVID. This was snapshot of international travel during the pandemic.
What do you think of Verifly?