Air Pax Confident in Onboard Health – But Want Mask Wearing Over Soon: IATA
'As clean as an operating room'

IATA’s latest survey of air passengers globally showed that, while most are confident in the safety of air travel, there’s still a lot of confusion, uncertainty – and frustration – about travel rules.

The International Air Transit Association surveyed 4,700 pax in 11 markets around the world from 14 to 22MAY.

85 per cent believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. 65 per cent agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room.

Among those who have traveled since JUN 2020, 86 per cent felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 protective measures: 89 per cent believe protective measures are well implemented. 90 per cent believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures.

The vast majority – 83 per cent – support mask wearing, and even more pax support strict enforcement of mask wearing. On the other hand, a majority believe that the mask requirements should be ended as soon as possible.

This comes as there are more reported cases – especially in the U.S. – of ‘air rage’ incidents many centered around mask wearing onboard flights.

Willie Walsh, IATA’s director general, notes that ‘unruly passenger’ incidents have doubled since 2019, a cause for concern while balancing the continuing health and safety measures.

In addition, many pax admit to feeling frustrated by the ongoing rules and testing requirements.

67 per cent saw arranging testing as a hassle. 89 per cent agreed governments must standardize vaccinations and testing certifications.

And 70 per cent thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand.

No surprise that almost nine in ten respondents support the idea of a mobile app to store health credentials and 87 per cent support a secure digital system for that purpose. At the same time, 75 per cent say they’ll only use such an app if they have full control over the data.

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart,” said Walsh.

“To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions.”

Last year, the organization developed its own, IATA Travel Pass, for vaccine and testing documentation. It has tested and is now using the digital COVID ‘passport’ with a number of airlines, as reported by Open Jaw, allowing documentation to be verified within the airlines’ own systems even before pax arrive at the airport.

Man sitting in airplane.
Photo courtesy of IATA.

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