Iata has reported that the majority of air travellers are frustrated with the “hassle factor” of COVID-19 protocols, the confusion and uncertainty around travel rules, testing requirements, and excessive costs of testing. This impacts their willingness to travel.
At the same time, they are, however, confident about the hygienic safety of air travel and support mask-wearing on board.
Iata’s survey of 4 700 travellers in 11 markets around the world showed that 85% of air travellers believed aircraft were thoroughly disinfected, and 65% agreed that the air on an aircraft was as clean as an operating room.
Among those who had travelled since June 2020, 86% felt safe on board, owing to COVID-19 measures; 89% believed protective measures were well implemented and 90% believed airline personnel did a good job of enforcing the measures.
Passengers strongly support mask wearing on board (83%) and strict enforcement of mask rules (86%), but a majority also believe the mask requirement should be ended as soon as possible.
At the same time, participants admitted that they struggled with the COVID-19-related rules and requirements and that this impacted their willingness to travel; 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand, 67% said arranging testing was a hassle; and 89% agreed that governments must standardise 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. 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,” said Willie Walsh, Iata DG.
Almost nine out of ten respondents liked the idea of using a mobile app to store their travel health credentials and 87% supported a secure digital system to manage health credentials. However, 75% said they would only use an app if they had 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. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like the Iata Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return,” said Walsh.
“Air travellers recognise and value the safety measures put in place to minimise 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. 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 with 2019, and the increase in physically abusive behaviour is a particular cause for great concern,” said Walsh.