At time of writing, mask mandates have been lifted on public transportation at the federal level, after a Florida judge’s ruling took the requirement away. But the Biden administration may appeal it if the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decides that extending the measure is necessary. So, we’ll see. 

For now, CivicScience sought to understand how the mask-less decision may impact air travel. According to ongoing data, sampled below from the most recent week of data (04/13/2022 through 04/20/2022), 24% of the adult population plans to travel by plane in the next month.

As it stands, 44% who answered our quick survey about how the lifted mandate will impact flying to their next travel destination say they’re “just as likely” to take a flight due to the decision. Roughly one-fourth both say they’re “more likely” to take a flight and “less likely” to do so based on the change. 

Looking at an individual’s political ID compared to this question is quite predictable. Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike are all “just as likely” to fly at similar rates. However, Democrats are more likely not to fly, and Republicans, specifically 39% of them surveyed, are more likely to say there’s a higher likelihood they’ll board a plane due to dropped mask measures. While not surprising in the slightest, it’s enlightening.

Interestingly, the general consensus on wearing masks aboard airplanes has shifted compared to a month ago. Last month, more than half of the U.S. adult population (55%) said they thought masks should be required on airplanes, but this month, there was a nine percentage point decline in the percentage of people who said the same (46%), likely driven by the overall decision to drop them, yet still notable.

While attitudes have evolved, this decision should not impact travel in the grander sense. Sure, a larger portion of left-leaning consumers say they’re less likely to board a plane, but still, more than 60% of all U.S. adults say the change either won’t affect their likelihood to travel by plane or they’re actually more likely to do so. Time will tell if this dropped mandate stays, and for how long, but dropping mask requirements may help airlines for the time being, or at the very least not make too much of an impact either way.