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Revealed: Planes Will Be Packed, but Will Fliers Still Wear Masks?

This is part two in a week-long series on Fodor’s Summer Travel Survey. You can read part one, part three, part four, and part five. Fodor’s Travel surveyed 1,527 readers through our newsletter. Want to take future Fodor’s surveys? Make your voice heard! Sign up here.

Travelers are no longer required to mask up on planes, buses, trains, and subways. After a federal judge in Florida struck down the mandate on public transportation last month, just about every single airline—including Delta, Southwest, United, Alaska, JetBlue, and American—has made masks optional on their domestic and some international routes. But the CDC recommends that passengers continue to mask up and the federal government has appealed the ruling.

In this year’s Fodor’s Summer Travel Trends Survey, we asked our readers if they would continue to mask up while flying, even if not mandated to do so. The answer was an overwhelming yes. Seventy-three percent of our respondents said they will cover up while traveling, while only 23% will drop masks. In fact, 65% said they would actually prefer that airlines continue their mask mandates voluntarily.

According to our survey, 87% of respondents are planning to travel this summer, but their number one concern is catching and spreading COVID-19. More than half, 53%, also checked yes when asked if they’d cancel a trip due to a COVID-19 surge at the destination.

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Rules Have Changed

Since the onset, mask rules have divided the nation. For airlines, the mandate added an extra burden as crews scrambled to keep passengers in check. Airlines have been reporting an increase in disruptive behavior on planes—including physical and verbal violence and assaults, and have been urging the administration to change the rules. 

When pilots announced the end of the mask mandate to passengers mid-flight, there were cheers—videos shared on social media saw jubilant passengers and crew celebrating. It was a sigh of relief for the crew and travelers. However, many have voiced that the ruling may be premature, and especially harmful to the unvaccinated (like kids under 5) and the immunocompromised.

Public health experts are also disappointed with the ruling. Infection prevention epidemiologist Dr. Saskia Popescu tweeted that cases are rising and the upward trend will continue as more health measures are relaxed. “Even on airplanes (great ventilation/filtration), masks are critical. Lots of ppl + enclosed space + prolonged period of time. For air travel, removing masking requirements is a great way to ensure you’re spreading COVID (and any other respiratory infection in circulation) among a lot of people going to a lot of different regions.”

She will continue to wear a mask, as will U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy. 

Dr. Murthy told NBC in an interview that it is better to be safe while traveling since cases are rising again. He explained on Twitter that millions of people aren’t vaxxed (including children and people with medical conditions) and many don’t have the option of avoiding travel. “People at higher risk depend on the rest of us to help break the chain of transmission and reduce spread. Our decisions affect others.” 

His take: “Wearing a mask while traveling is a small step that can go a long way to protecting ourselves and others. Given how many lives have been lost and affected by  COVID-19, it’s a choice well worth making.”


I flew to London and back last fall, and hated wearing the mask.  It made my face perspire and itch.  The very idea of trying to sleep with nose and mouth covered is ridiculous!

ejwaits0897 May 4, 2022

Just flew XC from ATL to SEA and in the FC cabin only 2 people wore masks. Welcome to Amurika, the land of IDGASAABM...


I just returned from a trip where I was on 4 different planes, didn't wear the mask all the time and now I have a raging case of Covid! I am so sick right now and I'm triple vaccinated! DO yourselves a favor, wear the damn mask. It's just not worth it!