Passengers support mask-wearing & standardized proof of vaccination: IATA

Passengers support mask-wearing & standardized proof of vaccination: IATA

GENEVA — Airlines are doing a top-notch job of keeping passengers safe, according to a new survey by IATA.

Conducted in June, the survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 global markets found that most air travellers are confident about the safety of air travel and support mask-wearing in the near-term. However, a majority are also frustrated with the ‘hassle factor’ around COVID-19 protocols, including confusion about travel rules, testing requirements and excessive test costs.

Among the respondents, 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, and 65% agree the air on an aircraft is as clean as an operating room. 

Among those who have travelled since June 2020, 86% felt safe onboard owing to COVID-19 measures, 89% believe protective measures are well implemented, and 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures. 

The survey also found that passengers strongly support mask wearing onboard (83%) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86%), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.

“Air travellers recognize and value the safety measures put in place to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during air travel. And they support the continuation of these measures as long as necessary, but they also don’t want the measures to become permanent,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. “In the meantime, we all need to respect the rules and the safety of fellow passengers. It is unacceptable that unruly passenger incidents have doubled compared to 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern.”

Respondents also reported struggling with COVID-related rules and requirements that, in turn, impacts their willingness to travel. 70% thought the rules and accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand, while 67% said that arranging for testing is a hassle. An overwhelming 89% agreed that governments must standardize vaccinations/testing certifications.

“These responses should be a wake-up call to governments that they need to do a better job of preparing for a restart,” added Walsh. “Almost two-thirds of respondents plan to resume travel within a few months of the pandemic being contained (and borders opened). And by the six-month mark, almost 85% expect to be back to travel.

“To avoid overwhelming airports and border control authorities, governments need to agree to replace paper-based processes with digital solutions like the IATA Travel Pass for vaccine and testing documentation.”

According to the survey, almost 9 out of 10 respondents like the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials, and 87% support a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75% said they will only use an app if they have full control of their vaccine/test data.

“IATA Travel Pass enables travellers to receive, store and share their health information with governments and airlines but they always keep control of the information on their own mobile device,” said Walsh. “Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return.”