Mask wearing wins vote of confidence

GENEVA 21 July 2021: Based on its latest passenger survey conducted in June, the International Air Transport Association concludes 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 and uncertainty about travel rules, testing requirements, and high test costs.


The survey of 4,700 travellers in 11 markets around the world shows that:

  • 85% believe aircraft are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
  • 65% agree that the air in the cabin 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
  • 90% believe airline personnel do a good job of enforcing the measures

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. 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,” said  IATA’s director-general, Willie Walsh.

At the same time, participants admit that they struggle with the COVID-related rules and requirements and that this impacts their willingness to travel:

  • 70% thought the rules and the accompanying paperwork were a challenge to understand
  • 67% saw arranging testing as a hassle
  • 89% agreed 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. 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 Walsh.

Almost nine 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% say 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. Now is the time for governments to facilitate digital solutions like IATA Travel Pass to avoid chaos at airports as travel begins to return,” Walsh concluded.


  1. John, as you have probably seen, the situation is getting worse every day,,practically everywhere. The governments around the world have to pull their finger out and vaccinate everyone. Every country should have its own certified vaccin production , run by the relevant licence holders.. Otherwise this is all going to go on and on, for how long ???

  2. I certainly don’t support mask wearing in any setting, especially given how weak the evidence is that it protects against viral infection. Furthermore, as a recent court case in America proves, the inflexibility of this rule, which does not allow those who can’t wear masks for medical reasons to fly (specific exemptions may be in place in some jurisdictions but these seem to be uncommon) further proves that is more about control than health. The individual in question, who wanted to fly from the USA to Germany took his case to court but lost. He intends on taking it up with a higher court of appeal. Due to his condition, it means he will have to forego air travel for the foreseeable future. It is sad that this kind of discrimination is tolerated.

    It is of course reassuring to read that survey respondents want to do away with the rule as soon as possible and that no one wants mask wearing to become a permanent fixture of flying. Personally I believe it will eventually be done away with, most likely starting in the USA and later on the rest of the world, as the epidemiological situation improves.

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