From flight shame to travel shame: How COVID-19 is shaping post-pandemic travel behaviour

September 15, 2020

What will be the future need for air travel?

In recent years global air travel has increased 4-5% per year – but air travel has been turned upside down since the outbreak of COVID-19 and most airports were down more than 90% of passengers in Q2 2020 compared to same period last year.

But even well before the COVID-19 pandemic the air travel industry was starting to face challenging times caused by the increasing “flight shame” movement. In fact, recent Epinion research suggests that the anti-air-travel environmental movement may well have grown momentum in some countries during the pandemic as it has made people more aware of the climate crisis and sustainability.

So where does that leave air travel now and in the future? While the COVID-19 crisis undisputedly has caused negative effect on air travel, the current impact of the sustainability agenda remains less certain. The travel industry will need to investigate the link between the pandemic and “flight-shame” in order to understand the post-pandemic travel behaviour.

Now is the time to look forward – and beyond

Given this combined challenge, it is time for the air travel industry to ask the right questions and uncover future travelers’ needs and considerations to stay ahead of the competition.

  • Will the pandemic be a catalyst for a more general paradigm shift in the way we understand the travel and tourism industry today?
  • Has COVID-19 taught us to travel in other and more sustainable ways and will we take this behaviour with us into the future, and for how long?
  • Has COVID-19 made “flight shaming” more present and is general “travel shaming” about to take off?
  • When are people intending to fly again? Which passengers intend to come back as soon as possible? And will some segments be more reluctant to travel by air, and thereby be travelling less frequently than pre-pandemic, and why?

These questions are just some of the ones which airports are now facing when trying to forecast passenger traffic. For the past decade Epinions reliable advisors, has helped numerous airports with their market research and with predicting how routes should be developed as well as with commercial area development.

As people are starting to realize that it is possible to live a somewhat normal, enjoyable life and still be safe and keep our risk to a minimum while travelling, it is time for airports to not only understand what recovery will look like – but realize how they can support a more swift increase in passenger numbers and revenue. The tricky part is that everyone’s version of safe and sustainable is relative, and passenger segments will be recovering at different rates.

By using our advanced experience from airport market research, we can deploy a tailored research setup that takes your most important segments and regions into account. Asking the key passenger segments of your airport about their future travel behavior and considerations given different future scenarios related to the development of COVID-19 and potential sustainability concerns will help you predict the future travel needs in your airport and allow you to develop routes and commercial offerings at the airport.

Forecasting is key for route development, staffing and infrastructure organisation

Epinion has recently launched a sentiment tracking solution that supports the development of a winning recovery strategy for passenger traffic in airports. We are here to help you forecast the potential passenger flow of different passenger segments in the near future in the light of COVID-19 and the sustainability agenda.


Contact Epinion’s aviation experts today ( to hear more about our new post Corona and flight shame approach. Read more about our aviation solutions here