Travel habits have changed forever: survey

10 Nov 2020 by Tom Otley

A new survey out today says that the Covid-19 pandemic has ‘drastically’ changed travel habits ‘forever’, with eight in ten air passengers say their travel habits will change as a result of Covid-19, and 41 per cent planning to travel less frequently by any means

Inmarsat’s ‘Passenger Confidence Tracker’ surveyed 9,500 airline passengers worldwide, revealing significant variance across the 12 countries surveyed when it comes to passengers’ confidence about flying in light of the pandemic (countries surveyed were the U.K, U.S, Germany, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil, Hungary, Finland and Spain.)

Only a third (34 per cent) of passengers surveyed have taken a commercial flight since the pandemic began, and this appears to have sparked a shift in attitudes to flying. Four in ten passengers (41 per cent) expect to travel less by any means and a third (31 per cent) plan to fly less. This sentiment is even higher among Asian passengers, with 58 per cent in India and 55 per cent in South Korea planning to travel less in the future.

The study reveals significant variance across the world when it comes to passenger confidence about flying in light of the pandemic. Hungarian and British fliers are most confident, with 26 per cent and 16 per cent respectively saying they would get on a flight today. Asian passengers are less so; over a third (35 per cent) of South Koreans expect not to fly again until Covid-19 disappears.

Despite this change, there are early signs that travellers are beginning to feel confident about flying again; almost half (47 per cent) expect to feel ready to fly within the next six months. This corresponds with a survey out last week from the Airports Council.

Airports Council International: Half of passengers want to travel again soon

The Inmarsat survey shows that travel confidence broadly correlates to levels of public concern about Covid-19. For example, South Koreans and Singaporeans are twice as likely to describe their behaviour in relation to the virus as ‘highly cautious’ than Britons.

Passengers are currently more fearful of catching the virus abroad than on the plane. In fact, many think they are at a greater health risk in other environments, such as the gym and public transport. Recent IATA research supports this, suggesting people are more likely to be struck by lightning than catch Covid-19 on a plane.

While passengers largely feel confident at passport control, security and communicating with cabin crew, they are less comfortable visiting the toilet inflight, and being in close proximity with others.

When it comes to ensuring personal safety, passengers have disregarded the automatic 14-day quarantine. Instead, the results show a desire for a consistent set of measures to make the journey safer – such as mandatory face coverings, or a 48-hour test before travel.

Country ranking Fly today Next month Within six months Within a year More than a year Not until COVID-19 disappears Not until there’s a vaccine
1 Hungary 26% India 18% India 43% Singapore 24% Singapore 17% South Korea 35% Brazil 17%
2 UK 16% Brazil 14% UAE 43% Germany 22% South Korea 11% Finland 14% Germany 17%
3 US 14% US 14% Brazil 36% UK 22% Spain 10% Hungary 14% Finland 16%
4 Brazil 13% UAE 13% Spain 32% Australia 20% Australia 9% Singapore 14% UK 13%
5 Finland 11% Spain 11% US 32% Finland 20% Finland 9% Germany 11% Australia 12%
6 Australia 8% Germany 9% Australia 29% Spain 20% Germany 8% Australia 10% Singapore 12%
7 Germany 8% Australia 7% Singapore 22% Hungary 19% UK 8% Spain 10% South Korea 12%
8 India 4% Singapore 7% UK 20% UAE 19% Hungary 7% US 10% Hungary 10%
9 UAE 4% Hungary 5% Germany 19% India 16% India 6% India 8% US 8%
10 Singapore 2% South Korea 5% South Korea 17% South Korea 16% UAE 6% UAE 7% Spain 7%
11 South Korea 1% UK 5% Finland 16% US 14% US 5% UK 7% UAE 6%
12 Spain 1% Finland 2% Hungary 15% Brazil 10% Brazil 3% Brazil 6% India 5%


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