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Revealed: biggest COVID-related air travel fears

New research released by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revealed the concerns travellers have about air travel during the coronavirus pandemic and the precautions they would like to see implemented to protect themselves whilst flying. 



On the ground, the top three fears travellers have are: 

1.         Being in a crowded bus/train on the way to the aircraft (59%)

2.         Queuing at check-in/security or boarding (42%)

3.         Using airport restrooms (38%) 


On board planes, travellers most fear: 

1.         Sitting next to someone who might be infected (65%)

2.         Using restrooms (42%)

3.         Breathing the air on a plane (37%) 


When asked what would make them feel safer:

1.         Two in five (37%) cited extra COVID-19 screening at departure airports 

2.         One in three (34%) agreed with mandatory wearing of facemasks 

3.         One in three (33%) noted social distancing measures on aircraft


When it comes to the measures passengers would be willing to take to stay safe while flying, travellers would consider: 

1.         Undergoing temperature checks (43%)

2.         Wearing a mask during travel (42%)

3.         Checking-in online to minimize interactions at the airport (40%)

4.         Taking a COVID-19 test prior to travel (39%)

5.         Sanitizing their seating area (38%).


“People are clearly concerned about COVID-19 when traveling. But they are also reassured by the practical measures being introduced by governments and the industry under the Take-off guidance developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These include mask-wearing, the introduction of contactless technology in travel processes and screening measures,” IATA Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said.


“This tells us that we are on the right track to restoring confidence in travel. But it will take time. To have maximum effect, it is critical that governments deploy these measures globally.” 


Other notable findings in the study include: 

-       Nearly half (45%) indicated they would return to travel within a few months of the pandemic subsiding

-       Most travellers plan to travel to see family and friends (57%), holiday (56%) or do business (55%) as soon as possible

-       Two-thirds (66%) said that they would travel less for leisure and business in the post-pandemic world

-       Two-thirds (64%) would postpone travel until (personal and broader) economic factors improved

-       57% of travellers believed that air quality on planes is dangerous

-       55% said they understood that it was as clean as the air in a hospital operating theatre

-       85% of travellers reported concern for being quarantined while travelling

-       Only 17% said that they would be will willing to undergo quarantine


“Quarantine is a demand killer. Keeping borders closed prolongs the pain by causing economic hardship well beyond airlines,” said de Juniac.


“If governments want to re-start their tourism sectors, alternative risk-based measures are needed.” 


“Many are built into the ICAO Take-off guidelines, like health screening before departure to discourage symptomatic people from traveling. Airlines are helping this effort with flexible rebooking policies.” 


IATA’s survey took into account the opinions of travellers from 11 countries during the first week of June. 


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Written by: Mark Harada
Published: 15 July 2020

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