Skift Take

This is America, the land of the free and hyper-polarized. Sadly. Though good news, enough will exists across the country for a vaccine requirement for air travel, but the vocal opposition will unlikely let it happen.

Every thing in America is political these days and coming into 20 months into the pandemic, every part of it even coming out of it has now been weaponized beyond recognition.

Witness the controversy around vaccine mandates for airlines employees, United moved decisively and early and has for most part been very successful with its staff, while Southwest hedged and is now in the crosshairs in media, political sphere and social platforms as a result.

When it comes to vaccine requirements for travelers, in this case airline passengers, it isn’t a surprise there is a very mixed opinion on the mandatory need for showing vaccine card/pass to fly, whether domestic or international. Certainly no brand will make the mistake of using the phrase “vaccine passports” as that has been politicized the heck out of over the last year the world over.

Some progress has been made, Canada is now going to require mandatory vaccines for anyone traveling within and out of the country. Airlines such as Qantas and Air Asia are making it a requirement too.

And while it doesn’t look like similar requirements would come into effect in U.S. anytime soon, there is some political will, mostly on Democratic side, to make it a law of the land.

So we at Skift decided to stir the pot and ask in online surveys about the support for vaccine requirements to fly in America, through polls on Google Surveys (a scientific one) and LinkedIn (a decidedly unscientific and controversial one).

From a representative sample of 1500 adult Americans online through Google Surveys, it looks like the country is split, with about 45 percent of Americans definitely wanting a requirement, 23 percent don’t care either way, and a pretty vocal 33 percent against it. The good news for those in favor of this requirement is *only* 1/3rd are against it, probably a portion of that population being against taking the vaccine as well.

Some of the opposition could also be related to travelers not wanting to be inconvenienced in an already complex booking, airport and flying experience, a requirement would certainly add more hurdles and potentially slow down the flying process overall.

The sentiment by age is more nuanced, with more older American wanting this vaccine mandate for air travel, which is to be expected since coronavirus has been disproportionately devastating for the elderly population worldwide.

Lastly in the gender breakdown, more women are in favor of air travel vaccine mandate than men, also in keeping with the general breakdown on those who have gotten the vaccine in U.S. versus those who haven’t.

Then, I posted this poll on my Linkedin feed, and it generated a lot of heat in comments, with so many vaccine. deniers — I had to delete many comments for being inflammatory and completely factually wrong, but gave up after a while. The good news for supporters is this unrepresentative BUT likely more professional sample — and hence more actual frequent fliers — are majority in support of a vaccine mandate for flying.

This comment on my poll sums up the rational side: “You may have the freedom to not vaccinate yourself, but you don’t have the right to risk others’ lives or health in public. And airline doesn’t have to accommodate your needs over greater public’s need either. So either get vaccinated and travel or stay home. That should be the only choice one has.”

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Tags: airlines, coronavirus, surveys, vaccines

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