The travel and hospitality industry continues to feel the effects of the pandemic. The good news is that air travel intent has more than doubled from last holiday season. On the flip side, the industry faces a growing number of challenges that are keeping people from flying right now, as shown by a recent CivicScience survey of more than 2,540 typical air travelers (frequent to occasional). 

A high-level look at overall reluctance to fly finds that just 37% of respondents are currently willing to travel by plane, whereas the majority aren’t feeling very motivated to board a plane.

Ranking reasons by those most cited, the fear of contracting COVID-19 remains the biggest deterrent. Nearly one-third (31%) of adults say that concern for their safety (particularly regarding the Omicron variant) is keeping them away from flights.

That’s quickly followed by concerns over the cost of airfare (estimated to have increased 55% from this time last year), leading more than one-quarter (26%) of respondents to forgo flying.

Another noteworthy reason includes concern over fights and confrontations on planes (21%), which is driving nearly as much reluctance as flight costs or flight delays/cancellations. Reports of conflicts erupting on flights have regularly made headlines throughout 2021 and are indeed influencing consumers’ travel choices, particularly those of older adults. Survey results show adults over age 55 are the most likely to avoid flying due to COVID concerns, but are also nearly twice as likely as younger adults to cite fighting onboard planes as a reason not to fly.

A mix of concerns over health risk, rising ticket prices, and issues related to the flying experience all add up to many Americans feeling reluctant to travel by plane right now.

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