Americans and Brits remain wary of flying

Aishwarya Dabhade
July 07, 2021, 12:59 PM UTC

Several countries are opening borders for travel amid a successful vaccination rollout and as a result, airline companies are welcoming flyers in masse again. In a new YouGov survey, we dive into how comfortable Americans and Brits boarding flights again. 

Leisure travel was hit hard during the pandemic, but what about now? 

The US has posted steady gains in bookings over the past several weeks. The Transportation Security Administration confirmed it screened 1.86 million passengers (as of May 24)  In Great Britain, meanwhile, flight traffic fell 73% from 2019 levels according to the British Airline Pilots' Association (BALPA). Travel restrictions were strict through most of 2020 but were relaxed as per the changing situation in 2021. 

According to the data, most Americans (64%) and Brits (86%) did not travel by air during the pandemic, and as things stand where they live, nearly half (45%) of all Americans and a majority (72%) of Brits have no plans to do so soon. 


Are Brits and Americans comfortable travelling via airplane? 

Diving into how travellers currently feel about flying, data collected by YouGov reveals that 54% of Americans and 42% of Brits are comfortable travelling by airplane. It isn't a surprise that consumers who are vaccinated are far likelier to be comfortable with travelling by air – 39% in the US and 30% in Great Britain say so.  
 
In the US, three in ten US adults say they’ll never be comfortable travelling via air. More than a quarter (29%) of Americans would be comfortable only when enough Americans are fully vaccinated that the risk of COVID-19 transmission is minimal. 

In Britain, nearly half (48%) are relying on guidance from health experts before they travel by air. The next highest segment (45%) is for those who would be comfortable if the destination or the region they have planned to visit has minimal COVID-19 transmission. 
 

To what extent do the dynamics of flying change for parents when children travel? 

When asked at what point will they be comfortable having their children travel by air, 26% of American parents say that the region/destination must have minimal possibility of transmission. A quarter of parents (25%) say enough people must be fully vaccinated to reach herd immunity before they travel with their kids.  
 
Around the same proportion (24%) would be comfortable when the government says it is safe to travel. The government’s green flag matters to 36% of British parents too. Minimal transmission in the planned region matters to around a third of them (29%). However, a significant proportion of parents in Britian (37%) say they will never be comfortable having their children travel by air. 

New variants of the virus have delayed the easing of travel restrictions in Britain, while in the US, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently declared that the delta variant is now the dominant coronavirus strain in the country. So, while the airline industry has been re-awakened, current traveller sentiments suggest there’s still some hesitancy toward lift off.  

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MethodologyThe data is based the interviews of 3,873 US adults and 2,109 British adults. Online interviews were conducted between May 19-24, 2021, in the United States and between June 7-8, 2021, in Great Britain. Learn more about YouGov Realtime