Half of UK travellers are worried about exposure to Covid-19 at airports, finds survey


New survey from Air Doctor examines attitudes towards business and recreational travel in the next six months

FieldHouse Associates

London, 18 August 2020: 50 per cent of UK travellers cite exposure to Covid-19 at airports or while in flight as their biggest travel concern, according to new data collected by Air Doctor, the leading global platform connecting travellers to local private doctors if they fall ill abroad.


The survey aims to examine the UK’s attitude to international travel in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It finds that 53 per cent of respondents are willing to travel in the next six months. 


Behind exposure to coronavirus at airports or on planes specifically, the next most common concerns were getting caught in lockdown abroad (22 per cent), having to quarantine (15 per cent), and falling ill overseas with no access to medical care (10 per cent).


While the majority of people would be willing to travel internationally in the next six months, several mitigations were cited that would increase their confidence:


  • For 43 per cent of business travellers, not having to use public transport would most increase their comfort level, followed by comprehensive travel insurance (35 per cent), access to private medical care (17 per cent), and not staying overnight (7 per cent).


  • For recreational travellers, comprehensive travel insurance (33 per cent), no need to use public transport (29 per cent), access to local private medical care (15 per cent) and avoiding city centres (15 per cent) were the key considerations.


Jenny Derfler, CEO of Air Doctor, says: “While the travel industry is slowly starting to get back on its feet, attitudes to travel have been changed dramatically by Covid-19. The data shows that people are hyper-aware of the possibility of falling ill abroad, so it’s unspurprising that public transport and airports, in particular, are causing concern. These insights are useful to both the travel industry and providers of travel insurance looking for ways to make their customers feel supported and safely boost the appeal of travelling.”


While there has been lots of attention on the growing demand for telehealth services during the pandemic, when it comes to travelling it seems people still prioritise the reassurance of in-person contact if they get ill. The research indicated that 65 percent of respondents ranked access to private medical care as their most favoured travel insurance add-on, followed by travel disruption cover (18 per cent) and access to telemedicine screenings (10 per cent).


Efrat Sagi-Ofir, COO of Air Doctor, says: “It will be interesting for travel insurance providers that UK travellers show a preference for in-person care over telemedicine screenings – despite what we are hearing about lockdowns accelerating adoption of the latter. The threat from Covid-19 has not yet diminished, which makes it even more important that travellers are given an alternative to access their preferred in-person care without having to visit already-busy emergency care centres unnecessarily. Falling ill abroad is never going to be a pleasant experience – most of all during a global pandemic – but improving the experience of accessing healthcare if you do get sick can make a world of difference. Travel insurance providers that take these findings on board and tailor their service accordingly are likely to inspire the most confidence and loyalty.”


Air Doctor operates in 48 countries, including the US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Russia, China, Thailand, Japan, Canada, Israel, Nepal, India, Australia and New Zealand.