- Flight attendants and other airline workers have lower rates of COVID-19 than the general population, despite spending time in transit and in small, enclosed spaces.
- The data suggest that the various safety protocols airlines have adopted during the coronavirus pandemic are effective, according to airline executives and labor groups.
- However, that alone likely won’t be enough to convince people to start traveling again.
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The coronavirus spreads when people are in close quarters for extended periods of time, breathing the same air with little space between them. So you might expect airplanes to be the perfect environment for the transmission.
But some surprising data from airline workers show that is not the case. In fact, flight attendants and other airline workers have had a lower incidence of COVID-19 than the general population.
According to airline executives and union leaders, that’s a sign that the safety measures airlines are taking on airplanes are having an effect.
“At United, but also at our large competitors, our flight attendants have lower COVID infection rates than the general population, which is one of multiple data points that speaks to the safety on board airplanes,” Scott Kirby, the CEO of United, said on Wednesday at a forum hosted by Politico.
“If the experience of flying was not safe, you’d expect our people to get sick,” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said on Thursday, speaking at the SAP Concur forum. “We track the health of our people. Our people are meaningfully less infected than the general population.”