Flying, by far, causes the most concern among travelers

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Plane cabin during pandemic [Credit: Beautiful Landscape/Shutterstock.com]
The J.D. Power study found that far more flyers had anxiety about the airplane cabin than they did about the airport. Photo Credit: Beautiful Landscape/Shutterstock.com

Airlines have worked tirelessly in recent months to convince travelers that flying is safe. However, those efforts haven't fully paid off, a newly released study by J.D. Power suggests.

The survey of more than 50,000 individuals traveling through a major U.S. airport found that travelers remain more concerned about exposure to Covid-19 while on the plane than they do during any other portion of the travel journey. The survey was conducted during a five-week period that ended Oct. 15.

Related: Harvard team says Covid risk on planes is lower than grocery stores

According to the study results, 37% of active travelers were concerned about Covid-19 transmission aboard aircraft. That was nearly triple the 13% of travelers who worried about catching the virus on trains, in taxis or during rideshares.

Other portions of the journey generated even less anxiety. Ten percent of respondents were concerned about virus transmission in airport security lines, and 9% had the same concern in gate areas, while 7% worried about ticket counters and only 5% worried about airport restrooms and shops.

Travelers were least concerned about hotels and rental cars, with just 2% of respondents saying they fear Covid-19 exposure during those portions of the travel journey.

"Primarily, it comes down to allowing the guest to control their personal space," the J.D. Power team wrote in the study. "What do the worry-free areas have in common? Hotel room and rental car environments do not require prolonged interaction with strangers, guests can control the entry of unfamiliar persons, the recent history of the space is well known and both are characterized by limited space that needs disinfection."

Related: Airlines should tone down their Covid safety assertions

Over the course of the pandemic, airlines as well as hotels and other travel brands have invested in stepped-up cleaning and safety protocols as well as in marketing those initiatives.

The J.D. Power study showed that those efforts are having an impact. When researchers asked travelers about their impression of brands due to their Covid-19 response, 27% said they had become more positive compared with just 5% who said they viewed brands more negatively.

Among those travelers who were aware of the steps taken by a specific brand, 36% viewed the brand more positively.

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