Survey Suggests A Majority Of Americans Are Wary Of Mask-Free Traveling

While many businesses have moved towards mask-optional guidelines, public transportation was among the last industries to have the federal mask mandate lifted (via Federal Transit Administration). As people now begin to embark on their summer vacations, a recent survey issued by the Pew Research Center shows people have mixed opinions when it comes to traveling mask-free. 

For some, this comes as welcome news. Perhaps most particularly for airline workers who have faced numerous challenges since the start of the pandemic in enforcing the mandate amid pushback from travelers (via CNBC). Over the course of 2021, more than 70% of passenger dispute reports received by The Federal Aviation Administration were related to mask-wearing.

As per the Pew Research Center survey results, 42% of Americans feel they should not be required to wear masks while flying or utilizing other forms of public transportation. However, the majority of survey respondents — 57% — reported feeling that masks should still be required. Of those who feel mask mandates should remain in effect, 89% reported continued concerns over contracting the virus and the possibility of hospitalization.

Masking opinions vary according to many factors

While the majority of survey participants were in support of continued mask-wearing, those in the travel industry are seeing varied responses to mask mandate lifting. "We see a fairly even distribution amongst clients who still prefer to mask, particularly those who do so in crowded or confined spaces such as airplanes and airports," luxury travel advisor, McLean Robbins, tells Healthline. Robbins went on to add, "Many clientele are still opting to mask, while others enjoy the flexibility to do so at their personal choice, given the specific situation or their own health conditions."

In further analyzing survey responses, the Pew Research Center was able to identify commonalities amongst survey respondents. One of the most predominant factors was political party affiliation. 80% of Democrats or Democratic party-leaning individuals felt masking while traveling should be required compared to 71% of Republicans or Republican party-leaning respondents who felt it should not be required.

Vaccination status also appeared to be an influencing factor in survey responses, with 66% of individuals having received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and being in support of mask-wearing, according to the Pew Research Center. 74% of those against required masking reported being unvaccinated. In analyzing age, the research revealed that the majority of those in favor of wearing masks while traveling were over the age of 65. Conversely, higher numbers of those opposed to wearing masks were in the 18 to 29 age range.