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Air travel is about to get more complicated. Here’s how United Airlines is making things easier

United’s new Travel-Ready Center lets you see you upload proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for approval before you head to the airport.

Air travel is about to get more complicated. Here’s how United Airlines is making things easier
[Photo: courtesy of United Airlines]
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Traveling by plane isn’t what it used to be. You can, of course, blame COVID-19 for that. Since the first months of the pandemic, new mandates and restrictions have been put in place by both governments and the airlines themselves. From mandatory masks to negative COVID-19 test requirements to full-on travel bans, it can be hard to navigate what you need before you can step foot on a plane.

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And things are only set to get more confusing as the CDC enacts new travel guidelines tomorrow and countries around the world alter their travel restrictions in the face of new threats from COVID-19 variants, such as the new South African strain. There’s even the possibility that as vaccinations roll out more widely, some countries will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination before travel in the near future.

That’s where United Airlines and its new Travel-Ready Center come in. It’s an app- and web-based tool that allows travelers to access a one-stop shop of all the requirements they need to meet before stepping foot on their flight. Broadly speaking, the tool aims to demystify these confusing requirements based on your destination.

Not only can travelers see all of what is required of them before traveling to the airport, but they can also upload any required documents—such as proof of a negative COVID test or proof of vaccination—right to the tool itself.

Here’s how it works:

  1. In the United app, tap “My Trips” and then select your upcoming flight.
  2. On the Reservation details screen, tap Travel-Ready Center.
  3. On the next screen, you’ll see a list of all the members of your travel party. Below their names will be color-coded labels identifying them as “travel ready,” “verification needed,” “not travel ready,” or “requirements pending.” Tap on one of the traveler’s names.
  4. On the next screen, you’ll see a list of the requirements the person needs to meet in order to travel. These requirements are broken down into two sections: Destination requirements and United’s requirements. Tap on either to view the requirements.
  5. On the Destination requirements screen, you’ll see an explanation of all requirements you need to meet in order to fly there. At the bottom of the screen, you can tap a button to upload the required documentation (such as a photo of a negative COVID test or verification of vaccination). You can also schedule a COVID test right from this screen.
  6. The app will then alert you when your uploaded documents have been verified by a United employee. Once that is done, you can head to their airport safely knowing that you’ve met all the travel requirements and will not be turned away at boarding.

In addition to the mobile app, the Travel-Ready Center is also accessible via United’s website.

About the author

Michael Grothaus is a novelist, journalist, and former screenwriter. His debut novel EPIPHANY JONES is out now from Orenda Books. You can read more about him at MichaelGrothaus.com

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