MIAMI – As airlines grapple to lure back passengers, a new poll conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) offers some insights about post-pandemic air travel.

The Geneva-based organization today announced results from its latest poll of recent travelers, revealing growing confidence in a return to air travel, frustration with current travel restrictions, and acceptance of an app to manage health credentials when traveling.

EY’s MicrobeBARRIER™ face protection. Photo: Etihad Airways.


When it comes to travel restrictions, 88 percent of survey respondents said the right balance must be struck between managing COVID-19 risks and getting the economy going again. In addition:

  • 85% believe that governments should set COVID-19 targets (such as testing capacity or vaccine distribution) to re-open borders.
  • 84% believe that COVID-19 will not disappear, and we need to manage its risks while living and traveling normally.
  • 68% agreed that their quality of life has suffered with travel restrictions.
  • 49% believe that air travel restrictions have gone too far.

“While there is public support for travel restrictions, it is becoming clear that people are feeling more comfortable with managing the risks of COVID-19,” IATA said in a news release announcing the findings.

“The top priority of everybody at the moment is staying safe amid the COVID-19 crisis. But it is important that we map a way to being able to re-open borders, manage risks and enable people to get on with their lives. That includes the freedom to travel,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

“It is becoming clear that we will need to learn to live and travel in a world that has COVID-19. Given the health, social and economic costs of travel restrictions, airlines should be ready to re-connect the world as soon as governments are able to re-open borders. That’s why a plan with measurable milestones is so critical. Without one, how can we be prepared for restart without an unnecessary delay?”

Photo: Delta Air Lines

Future Travel Trends

IATA’s survey also found that: 

  • 57% expect to be traveling within two months of the pandemic being contained (improved from 49% in September 2020).
  • 72% want to travel to see family and friends as soon as possible (improved from 63% in September 2020).
  • 81% believe that they will be more likely to travel once they are vaccinated.
  • 84% said they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine at their destination (largely unchanged from 83% in September 2020).
  • 56% believe that they will postpone travel until the economy stabilizes (improved from 65% in September 2020).

“People want to get back to travel, but quarantine is the showstopper,” de Juniac said. “As testing capacity and technology improves and the vaccinated population grows, the conditions for removing quarantine measures are being created. And this points us again towards working with governments for a well-planned re-opening as soon as conditions allow.”

IATA Travel Pass. Photo: IATA

IATA Travel Pass

The poll also found strong support for standardized health documentation, in this case IATA’s Travel Pass app, which is undergoing a trial by a handful of international carriers:

  • 89% of respondents believe that governments need to standardize vaccine and testing certificates.
  • 80% are encouraged by the prospect of the IATA Travel Pass App and would use it as soon as available.
  • 78% will only use a travel credential app if they have full control over their data.

Featured image: Munich Aiport