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COVID-19

IATA: Facemasks Among Top Three Measures That Create “A Feeling of Safety”

IATA: Facemasks Among Top Three Measures That Create “A Feeling of Safety”
Joe Cortez

The International Air Transport Association says most flyers want mandatory face mask usage on aircraft because it creates “a feeling of safety” when flying during the COVID-19 pandemic. The additional data was provided to FlyerTalk from their most recent survey of passengers from 11 nations.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is offering clarity to their most recent study, saying airlines’ mandatory face mask policies are one of the top three measures which would create “A feeling of safety” for flyers traveling during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trade group provided new information to FlyerTalk, further reflecting the opinions of flyers from 11 countries.

IATA Argues Flyers Want Face Coverings on Flights

In presentation slides sent to FlyerTalk from their June survey, the IATA notes the majority of flyers would feel better if airlines compelled the use of face coverings. From the expanded data, IATA shows 44 percent of those polled said the mandatory passenger facial coverings in airports and planes would make them feel “somewhat safer,” while 37 percent said they would feel “a lot safer.” The total of those who would feel safer is 81 percent, one percentage point higher than the April 2020 survey.

IATA Survey Shows Flyers Would Feel Safer with Face Masks

Image courtesy: IATA

Additionally, the majority of those asked would also feel at least “somewhat safer” if flight crew members also wore face coverings through the airport and on the flight. Of those asked, 45 percent said they would feel “somewhat safer,” while 36 percent said they would feel “a lot safer.”

The top safety measures flyers want include seeing sanitization being performed throughout the airport, seeing sanitization being performed throughout the plane, and having hand sanitizer readily available on the aircraft. The latest CarTrawler/IdeaWorks report shows while every major airline is performing spray and wipe disinfecting aboard aircraft, only 18 of the top 25 leading carriers are offering hand sanitizer to flyers. Excluding low-cost carriers Frontier Airlines and Spirit Airlines, the top North American airlines reportedly have hand sanitizer on board and available by request.

Passenger Screening, Face Masks and Social Distancing Top Three Leading Measures

Among those passengers asked about the top three safety measures they wanted to see on aircraft, three options stood out the highest: Passenger screening for COVID-19 symptoms at airports, mandatory face mask usage aboard aircraft, and airlines enforcing social distancing mandates. Other top measures include a COVID-19 immunity certification, temperature testing during boarding, and crew face masks. At the bottom of the list were health declarations and regular airport sanitization.

An IATA slide reflecting the top three measures that would create a feeling of safety. Slide courtesy: IATA

Slide courtesy: IATA

Of the leading options, only mandatory face mask usage is being currently enforced on aircraft. Passenger screening is being held on a case-by-case basis among airlines, and social distancing on aircraft is split between carriers. American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines are all booking flights to capacity. A New York Times article suggests American prevented flyers from moving seats because of upgrade fees, but a spokesperson for the airline called it an “error.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is reportedly considering a bill mandating airlines block middle seats.

Other flyers allege the mandatory face mask rule is being enforced selectively, based on the airline and the flight. In a report from The Indianapolis Star, recent flyers say some people were either wearing face coverings incorrectly, or only selectively wearing them in flight.

View Comments (16)

16 Comments

  1. sfoeuroflyer

    July 9, 2020 at 4:04 pm

    Create a “feeling of safety” even if they contribute very little if any safety. Simple physics: masks, well made and properly worn, can have an effect on spread of droplets such as would come from coughing, sneezing or spitting. On the other hand the virus particles are much smaller than the weave of ordinary fabric. Thus, the masks are about as effective in blocking aerosol spread of the virus as a chain link fence is in blocking mosquitoes. Further there are zero studies showing any virus transmission occurring on board aircraft which constantly circulate and filter the air. So the mask is largely theater except to stop transmission from sneezing, coughing or spitting persons.

  2. FEasy

    July 10, 2020 at 2:45 am

    “Feeling safe” is not the top of our prioritties now. Being safe is. “Feeling safe” was important for an industry which has a stellar safety record, like air travel, but which occasionally suffers much-publicised disasters. Then you can work on perception, knowing the basic safety is already top-notch (the MAX was a very sad and avoidable exception to that rule). But with this pandemic, flying is most definitely not safe to begin with . Dabbling in marketing and perception-improving measures is just unacceptable, since it will cost lives.

  3. vargha

    July 10, 2020 at 5:00 am

    As long as “feelings” are being addressed, I’m good. It’s too intellectually taxing to deal with pesky things like “facts”.

  4. ConnieDee

    July 10, 2020 at 5:46 am

    Face masks outside where social distancing is the default, and for quick trips through the smaller, more well run grocery stores, make me feel safer. But on a plane where I have to depend on the material, manner and duration of everyone ELSE’S face covering for hours? Even the poor FA in the photo is not wearing her mask properly. She could be leaking droplets and/or aerosols up along her nose and out the top of the mask.

    We need N-95 masks that protect both ways, for everyone, which means, they protect ME as well as you. I keep wondering why our global economies can’t come up with enough for us all.

  5. DeltaFlyer123

    July 10, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Even though face masks my not be totally effective, they do indeed reduce the capture of some of the virus particles, thus reducing the risk of infecting others. That will not eliminate all transmission of the virus, but reduce its rate of transmission, thereby helping crowding in hospitals and bringing it down. It’s the same reason as wearing seat belts, they may not save your life if the airplane catches on fire, but wearing it reduces the risk of injury during turbulence, which is far more likely.
    As for the air quality on an airplane being better than anywhere else, that’s great, but if the guy sitting elbow to elbow with me is coughing and sneezing, then the overall air quality in the cabin is not protecting me if he’s not wearing a mask or covering his face.
    Frankly, I won’t go anywhere where not everyone is wearing masks and practices social distancing, not because it eliminates all risk of catching the virus, but because it significantly reduces it.

  6. nycityny

    July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am

    sfoeuroflyer: You mention that there are zero studies showing any virus transmission occurring on board aircraft. I suspect the reason for that is a lack of organized contact tracing in this country as well as a lack of interest by the airlines in cooperating with such a study. I find it difficult to believe that none of the over 3 million cases of Covid in the USA came from community spread on an airplane. It’s simply inconceivable. Yes, there is no proof. But that’s probably because powerful entities have no interest in proving such a thing.

  7. SamirD

    July 10, 2020 at 10:13 am

    You know what would really help? As evidenced from 4 legs I just traveled–enforce the distancing rules. When the FA says to wait for the row in front of you to be at least 6 feet in front of you before you get out of your seat, do it!! In 4 different flights, I had someone practically pressed up against my back, even when in J. If you care about killing old people, don’t behave this way. Otherwise, those deaths are by your hands.

  8. PDog

    July 10, 2020 at 10:32 am

    Dog and pony show put on for “feelings*.

  9. BMGRAHAM

    July 10, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Just the other day you wrote that passengers are not sold on masks. I think that is more likely the feeling. I will wear a mask because I have to. But if I am sitting more than six feet away from another passenger, I am more concerned that the airline is doing what it should to keep the plane clean and free of germs on surfaces.

  10. snidely

    July 10, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    NY (along w. a couple of nearby states) BEAT the virus by mandating lockdowns, masks, etc.
    Calif. is the only Blue state really losing the war. Must be something to those states following DJT’s line that “nothing needs to be done” are now in deep doo-doo.
    I can’t believe allegedly “above average” members of this forum are in favor of being on a plane w. no masks.

  11. Kumar2013

    July 11, 2020 at 3:29 am

    I wonder what the mask-loving snowflakes will say in response to this.

    It was obvious from the start that masks were all about theatrics and perception of safety rather than meaningful safety. Like the cohorts of armed troops kept in static defences at airports whose mere presence no doubt makes terrorists wet their trousers.

    It’s amazing how self-righteous people are in pushing for others to wear masks without knowing the faintest as to whether it actually helps or not.

  12. sdsearch

    July 12, 2020 at 8:57 am

    nycityny: If there are cases of transmission on planes, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re among the people cramming to get off the plane in a very slow moving line.

    While you’re seated, if you have your air vent open, the air is refreshed every few minutes with outside air is doing a good job of protecting you to a greater degree than in most enclosed spaces, especially if there’s no one seated immediately next to you. But on most planes, there are only vents at seats, not aimed at flyers standing in line to get off of the plane. So it seems to me that worst place on the plane for air circulation is the center aisle, but that’s only an issue when deplaning (since boarding is staggered at the gate, but deplaning cannot be easily controlled by the airline).

    I was on a plane yesterday, and I was amazed at how much of crammed aisle there was at the start of deplaning. It seemed no different than pre-Covid-19. I just sat at my window seat with the vent open until the crowd had fizzled.

  13. oh912flyer

    July 13, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    A friend of mine recently took a flight. The closest person to him wasn’t wearing a mask due to a medical condition. Rather than complain and whine, my friend simply put on a second mask… I was kind of surprised he could still breathe but he said no problems. Which suggests maybe they’re not that effective in the first place.

  14. nycityny

    July 13, 2020 at 10:06 pm

    Kumar2013: Here’s what I say to your nonsense. Coronavirus is expelled through the nose and mouth of those with the virus. Coronavirus is absorbed through the nose and mouth of others in the area. Putting a mask in front of the nose and mouth of the carrier as well as others around them greatly reduces the chance of transmission. If that doesn’t make sense to someone it’s because their mind is closed to hearing such logic.

  15. azmojo

    July 15, 2020 at 3:18 pm

    nycityny: That is debatable. Mask leakage, *if* a person is wearing a mask correctly is such a problem it almost completely counteracts any benefit from a mask. Most masks create leakage jets to the sides and up and down. Penetration of cloths masks can be as high as 97%. Until you take the time to study the subject extensively, please refrain from spreading your version of “logic.”

  16. Dubai Stu

    July 16, 2020 at 12:12 pm

    Conspicuously absent from their list is “social distancing” and I can’t help but think that the industry’s own interest gets in the way. i want to see an empty seat between unconected parties and reclining abilities on seats temporarily disabled and/or an emptry row between fliers.

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