More than half of Americans who flew in the past year are not ready to do so again, according to a new survey, underscoring the difficulty airlines face in convincing people it is safe for them to get back on planes.
In the survey of nearly 6,500 travelers conducted by Gallup and the financial firm Franklin Templeton, 52 percent said they were uncomfortable flying.
Younger adults are more willing to travel; only a third of those between the ages of 18 and 34 expressed discomfort with the idea. But older adults, who tend to have more time and money to travel, are far more reluctant. Among those 55 or older, 69 percent said they would not be comfortable taking a flight.
Unsurprisingly, views on flying vary significantly by political identification. Nearly 60 percent of Democrats said they were uncomfortable flying, compared with 54 percent of independents and just 42 percent of Republicans.
Even those willing to fly have limits. Although 44 percent said they were comfortable getting on a flight that lasted less than two hours, only 21 percent said they were open to the idea of flying more than six hours, confirming the industry consensus that international travel will take much longer to recover than shorter, domestic trips.
Travelers are also divided in their willingness to pay to have an empty seat next to them. Just under half said they would not shell out any money for greater distance from others, while 47 percent said they would pay up to $100. That share shrinks as the price of an empty seat rises, though 18 percent said they would spend $250 or more.