Miami was nice—T&T Travel Pass processing, not so much.
That’s the view of UNC MP Roodal Moonilal, speaking after arriving from Miami via a Caribbean Airlines flight yesterday—and undergoing hours of uncertainty over whether his Travel Pass document for entry to Trinidad and Tobago had been confirmed or not.
In order to return to T&T, which reopened its borders yesterday, travellers must go through a rigorous registration process related to COVID-19 health and safety protocols via the Travel Pass system.
Last Saturday when details of the border reopening were announced, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young said the first big flight which was coming into T&T was from Miami yesterday.
Speaking to Guardian Media as he was at the Miami International Airport yesterday, Moonilal said he considered it his civic duty to test and report on the new Travel Pass system required for entry.
“While I had issues regarding the Travel Pass, I had no problem being the ‘guinea pig’ to test the system in the national interest. I had no plans to call any official—public or elected—to ‘get thru’. Members of the public don’t have that, I wanted to understand what a traveller might encounter,” he said. Moonilal said he learned the hard way.
After doing the online process for the pass around 1.30 pm last Saturday, he failed to get word on whether it was confirmed up to when he left for the Miami International Airport at 9.30 am yesterday.
“But in the end, the gracious and super-helpful CAL staff assisted me to pinpoint the problem—which was uploading the required files on my phone. Phones apparently cannot hold the large size of files needed for the process,” Moonilal said.
Moonilal, who went to Miami to visit an ill relative, received a negative PCR result and began completing his Travel Pass documentation at 1.30 pm last Saturday, but noted the online system “froze” 25 times.
By 9.22 pm, there was no confirmation or acknowledgement of whether the final page of the document was submitted.
Moonilal said he’d been worried if the pass wasn’t obtained whether he’d be allowed on the flight.
“And when I checked (yesterday morning) there was still no headway, but I went to the airport, where CAL staff assisted me and a few who didn’t have forms intact. Many passengers had theirs though. A fellow passenger also demonstrated the process to me,”Moonilal said.
“I was told the files requested were too large to do via phone. But when the system froze, there was no advisory indicating the problem, or that I should do something else, or that the form was incomplete. ’
“It seems this process is better suited to be done via laptop, since files are too large to be input by phone. People may have to take pictures of their Vaccination Card and PCR tests and convert to lighter formats.’’
He added: “The document requires a lot of information but there are many repetitions. There are three places where you’re asked for the PCR test, including to upload test results.
“For people who may not be Internet-savvy or have proper facilities to fill this out, it may be a problem.
“I’m willing to speak with the Digital Transformation Minister to assist with identifying issues that need tweaking.”