Sep 22, 2021

Vaccinations, testing needed to inspire confidence in domestic air travel


Idaho has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the U.S.

Soon the U.S. government will hold in-coming foreign air travelers to higher Covid safety standards than people flying to Seattle or New York from Idaho, Wyoming, Georgia and other states where vaccination rates are below 50 percent, no one wears masks and hospitals are filled with unvaccinated Covid patients. 

With more countries requiring vaccination for entry, the U.S. is right to do the same when it opens its borders to air travelers from 33 countries sometime in November. 

Americans traveling from abroad who are not vaccinated also will face tougher rules than vaccinated citizens, including needing to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test within a day of travel and proof of purchasing a viral test to be taken after arrival.

With the U.S. ranking 39th in the world when it comes to the percentage of the population fully vaccinated, according to the New York Times, why wouldn't it makes sense to boost confidence in air travel by assuring passengers that the person in the next seat has been vaccinated, or recently tested negative? Yet the U.S. travel industry continues to lobby against such a rule for domestic flights, while at the same time expressing dismay that Covid fears have put a damper on air travel.

What's behind the opposition to a policy that even White House chief medical officer Anthony Fauci says he supports?  

"Such a policy would have an unfair, negative impact on families with young children who are not yet eligible to get the vaccine," the U.S.Travel Association's Tori Emerson Barnes said in prepared comments recently.  Airlines argue it would be time-consuming to enforce.

Both are bogus arguments. Children will soon be eligible for vaccines, and exemptions could be made for those who are not. Vaccine information and/or test results could be entered into an app (Airlines are working on these now), with the information required to be entered before boarding passes are issued.

Surveys how that vaccine requirements enjoy strong support among North American travelers, according to a study by flight analytics company OAG.

The study surveyed 1,811 respondents in the U.S., Canada and Mexico during July and August.The results showed that 68% were interested in or wanted domestic vaccine passports, including 42% who felt strongly that domestic vaccine passports should be required. Seventy percent said vaccine passports should be required for international travel. 

Bottom line: A federal a requirement that passengers show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test for domestic air travel is likely coming. Until domestic travel is subject to the same Covid safety rules as international travel, it will be safer to fly to Italy or France than anywhere in the U.S. where the only requirement is that passengers wear masks when not eating or drinking.

Pioneer Square D&E in Seattle

In the meantime, I was happy to be asked for the first time to show my vaccine credentials in a Seattle restaurant, Pioneer Square D&E (Drinks and Eats). More than 150 Seattle restaurants now require vaccination verification or proof of a recent negative test. As of late October, the broader King County will mandate one or the other to eat inside at a restaurant, see a movie or work out in a gym. 

The requirements mirror those set in New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. Washington’s professional and college teams announced that fans would be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend home games.

Meanwhile unvaccinated Covid patients from Idaho are overwhelming Washington hospitals as well as their own at the same time their governor threatens to sue the Biden Administration over the federal employee vaccine mandate. 

Guess who won't be vacationing in a neighboring state anytime soon?


  1. I feel much more protected against Covid when flying in a plane from Europe than I do shopping in a Washington State grocery store.

  2. Or going to a Seahawks football game in Seattle where only 2 out of every hundred wear a mask even though they sitting right next each other.

    In other news! There are thousands of Washingtonians in Idaho and Montana this weekend!

  3. What about the tens of thousands entering our country via the southern boder? We all know thaat we really don't know if they are positive or not. If I am mexican but coming into US via Europe,I have to prove status, but if I come in illegally, no proof needed. This makes my head explode.

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