The majority of Americans have backed restricting air travel – both international and domestic – to fully vaccinated travelers in yet another major survey by a reputable pollster. In this case, the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll of 1,729 adults between August 12-16 found that 57 per cent strongly or somewhat supported only letting fully vaccinated Americans travel by airplane.
Support was strongest amongst self-identified Democrat voters who favored introducing vaccine passports by 80 per cent. Only 36 per cent of Republican voters supported vaccine passports for air travel, while 43 per cent strongly opposed the measure.
Older Americans, who are statistically most at risk of severe COVID-19 infection, could also see the benefit of vaccine passports more than younger adults. Nearly three quarters (74 per cent) of Americans aged 60+ were in favor of a vaccine passport for travel, compared to just 47 per cent of 18-29-year-olds.
The Biden administration is actively considering only letting fully vaccinated foreign visitors travel to the United States but has rejected the idea of domestic vaccine passports. The travel industry has welcomed the idea as part of measures to reopen the United States to visitors from Europe and the UK, as well as easing restrictions on Canada and Mexico.
The industry has, however, opposed the introduction of vaccine or testing mandates for domestic air travel.
In February, airlines lobbied the White House to drop plans for a domestic pre-departure testing mandate arguing it would decimate demand and simply push people onto less safe modes of transport. A similar argument would be in play if vaccination became a pre-requisite to fly.
Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian can’t even bring himself to use the term ‘vaccine passport’ because it “carries too many connotations.”
Bastian prefers the term ‘travel credential’, although he doesn’t see a vaccine or test mandate being introduced for domestic air travel.
Earlier this month, Canada announced that it would restrict air travel to fully vaccinated passengers only. The new rules will take effect from late October.
Both Air Canada and WestJet welcomed the decision – partly in the hope that fully vaccinated travelers wouldn’t then have to shell out money for expensive and “excessive” RT-PCR tests.
The latest poll is largely unchanged from March when a Reuters poll of 1,005 Americans found that 62 per cent said people should be vaccinated before being allowed to travel, with that number rising to 80 per cent amongst Democrat voters.
Vaccine passports have been developed and are in use around the world, including in Israel, the UK and much of Europe. Centralized data records have allowed countries to quickly rollout vaccine passports but President Biden has refused to develop a federal register of vaccinations.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.