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Americans Divided on Face Masks When Flying

Americans Divided on Face Masks When Flying

Story Highlights

  • Americans split on whether government should require masks on planes
  • 60% would still choose to wear a face mask even if not legally mandated
  • Democrats most likely, Republicans least likely to wear a mask

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Americans are about evenly divided on whether the government should require passengers to wear a face mask when flying on an airplane. While 49% of U.S. adults say the federal government should require all travelers aged 2 and older to wear a mask, 51% feel it should not be mandated.


These latest results are from Gallup's COVID-19 tracking survey conducted April 25 to May 2, after a federal judge struck down the national mask mandate for airplanes and public transportation.

The Biden administration appealed the ruling that reversed the transportation mask requirement, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend masking on public transportation. The mandate, put in place by the CDC shortly after President Joe Biden took office in January 2021, was contentious and was a factor in many incidents involving unruly passengers on planes.

Americans' views of mandating masks on airplanes are politically polarized, with 81% of Democrats, 40% of independents and 13% of Republicans favoring a requirement. This gap in partisans' views is in line with previous findings on mask use.

Three in Five Americans Still Choose to Mask

Although the country is split over whether masks should be mandated on planes, a majority of Americans (60%) say that given the choice, they would choose to wear a face mask if they were traveling by plane in the next few days. Forty percent say they would opt to go maskless.


Party identification is the most significant driver of U.S. adults' propensity to wear a mask on a flight. Ninety percent of Democrats and 54% of independents say they would do so, but just 22% of Republicans say the same.

Likewise, some demographic subgroups that typically align with the Democratic Party -- including people of color, women and younger adults -- are more likely than their counterparts to say they would mask up on a plane. Women (67%) are significantly more likely than men (52%) to say so.


Younger adults, those aged 18 to 44, are the most likely age group (65%) to say they would choose to wear a face mask. Six in 10 adults aged 65 and older would choose to wear a mask, while those aged 45 to 64 are the least likely (53%) to say they would.

Bottom Line

As the summer months approach and Americans go on vacation, more are likely to find themselves on a flight and will need to make their own decision on whether they and their family will choose to be masked up.

With the CDC continuing to encourage -- but not require -- air travelers to wear a face mask, Americans are split on whether masks should still be required for travelers aged 2 and older. When asked about their own behavior, a majority of Americans tell Gallup they would plan to wear a mask if they found themselves on a flight in the next few days. Democrats, people of color, women and younger adults are the most likely groups to say they would still choose to wear a mask.

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