With the recent news that five major global airlines will now require passengers to prove their COVID-19 status using an app before boarding international flights, CivicScience checked in again on Americans’ feelings about digital health passes.
In the study, the percentage of U.S. air travelers who’d be “very comfortable” with using a COVID-19 health status app rose only slightly since CivicScience’s June survey, from 23% to 26%. Another 26% would now be “somewhat comfortable.” Meanwhile, the number who’d be “not at all comfortable” held firm at 48%.
There is good news and bad news for airlines in a separate survey run by CivicScience. The good news? Twenty-eight percent of U.S. adults surveyed said they would be more likely to fly internationally if digital health passes were used. The bad news? A substantial number of respondents (21%) said the digital health pass requirement would make them less likely to travel internationally.
Frequent Flyers Are Interested in the Idea
Comfort with the idea of a digital health pass for airlines appears to be higher among frequent international flyers. Among airline travelers, those who “leave the continent frequently” are nearly twice as likely to say they’re “very comfortable” with the idea as those who’ve never left North America. A similar pattern emerges for frequent domestic travelers as well.
Those who’ve traveled internationally in the past and those who’ve visited many U.S. states were also more likely than others to say the digital health passes for airlines would make them “more likely” to travel internationally.
Frequent business travelers were also slightly more likely than other air travelers to embrace the idea of digital health passes.
The willingness of frequent domestic and international travelers to try the digital health pass — along with the fact that it’s set to make them more likely overall to travel internationally — is good news for the airline industry. In other words, much of the resistance to digital health passes is coming from people who weren’t very likely to travel internationally in the first place.
There’s one big caveat, though. The digital health pass requirement may end up coming as a trade-off. It turns out that a large portion (43%) of the people who say they are currently comfortable with traveling abroad would be turned off by the health pass requirement. Still, the health pass would make many of those who aren’t currently comfortable feel better about international travel.
It remains to be seen whether the dozens of foreign nations that currently ban travel from the U.S. for pandemic-related reasons will drop some of their restrictions once airlines adopt digital health passes.
Holiday Air Travel May Be More Robust Than You’d Think
In November, 67% of U.S. adults said they had no plans to fly within the next six months, the second-highest mark since the start of the pandemic and the highest since July (70%).
But while Christmas-related air travel will likely drop this year, the decline may not be as severe as might be expected mid-pandemic. Four percent of U.S. adults say they will fly for the holidays this year, down from 6% in 2019.
Of the four top U.S.-based airlines (Southwest, Delta, American, and United), Delta came out on top among holiday travelers for the second year running.
Other rivals, like American and United, were well behind Delta and Southwest among holiday travelers.
Delta’s holiday ascendency comes despite the fact that it falls behind people’s general preference for Southwest.
While the pandemic will certainly put a damper on airline travel this holiday, the overall effect likely won’t be as catastrophic as some might have predicted. Similarly to last year, Delta seems set to win the holiday among airlines.