A more innocent time for flying... These days, Americans cite COVID-19 infection while flying as their main concern. Image Credit: Reuters

New York: When it comes to concern about contracting COVID-19, air travelers are most worried they'll catch it from fellow passengers on aircraft, according to a survey by J.D. Power, despite the industry's efforts to convince people that flying is safe.

Travelers are less concerned about catching the virus when they can control their own personal space and don't have prolonged interaction with strangers. Hence, hotel rooms and rental cars are regarded as much safer than the cabin of a passenger plane, the survey found.

The survey featured more than 50,000 respondents traveling through a major US airport over a period that ended on October 15, J.D. Power said, without naming the airport. Nearly a quarter of respondents weren't "worried at all" about contracting COVID-19, while only 10 per cent stated "great concern".

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As safe as is possible

The International Air Transport Association, which represents nearly 300 airlines, has said the risk of contracting COVID-19 on a flight is very low, with fewer than 50 confirmed cases of transmission in-flight since the start of the pandemic. Forward-facing seats, high airflow rates and hospital-grade filters are some of the reasons why flying is safe, according to the airline lobby.

IATA recommends masks should be worn throughout the travel process. J.D. Power's survey found that mask-wearing is key to boosting confidence, with 48 per cent of respondents saying it is the most important health safety measure for airports.

J.D. Power added that the average traveler during a pandemic isn't likely to be the same as the average traveler in a more normal period.