Most Americans Uncomfortable Flying When Corona Quarantine Is Over
Earlier this week a poll that found millennials are wary to return to international travel. The poll showed that millennials are more willing to domestic travel. But a new poll demonstrates the struggle airlines may have getting passengers back on their airplanes.
A CBS News poll asked respondents, “If stay-at-home restrictions were lifted, would you be comfortable going to…?” The poll asked about bars/restaurants, getting on a plane, or attending a large event. A staggering 85% of Americans said they would not feel comfortable getting on an airplane. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 points.
Of course, it is possible that a crisis mentality is skewing the results of the poll. During a crisis, people tend to process and act on information differently than they do before or after the crisis occurs. The results of this poll may be due to people’s perception of the virus based on staying at home and relying on media reports for their views.
Why Do Americans Feel This Way?
Another question in the same CBS News poll may provide some insight into why Americans are uncomfortable getting on a plane. The poll asked respondents if they would return to public places if stay-at-home restrictions are lifted. Forty-eight percent of people said they would not return to public places until the outbreak is over.
Those results show Americans are clearly worried about the virus and returning to activities in public spaces. The same poll found Americans more willing to visit friends, something that doesn’t require contact with the general public.
The poll did not look into why Americans are wary to get on board airplanes. The CDC says the risk of infection on a plane is low. A recent study even suggests that flying may be safer than other activities, such as eating in a restaurant.
This Could Mean Trouble
This may be a sign that airline industry leaders are right that a rebound for travel will not come quickly. Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said on Wednesday that he thinks it will take two to three years to return to normal.
Airlines are already reeling with limited schedules and are selling significantly less seats week to week. Delta reported yesterday they are operating at less than 5% of their normal capacity. The airline’s business is almost exclusively essential workers who need to travel for work. United Airlines recently announced they will be operating 90% fewer flights in the month of June.
Both United and Delta provided quarter one losses this week, demonstrating what it likely only the beginning for the airline industry struggles. Delta Airlines lost $534 million in quarter one, while United lost $2.1 billion.
It’s hard to know exactly how many people will stick to this mentality once stay-at-home orders and other corona restrictions are lifted. Millions of Americans are stuck in their houses under corona restrictions. Many of those restrictions began over a month ago. Americans might change their opinion when stay-at-home order conclude.
Regardless, airlines are likely worried about this sort of mentality. It demonstrates the potential challenges airlines will face in getting passengers to fill their seats. It’s also unclear to what extent airlines will need to implement social distancing policies on board their aircraft. To date, there is no government mandate for social distancing on aircraft. But it’s unclear if that will change in the future.