But for some, the idea of climbing aboard an aircraft remains now or in the near future. Nothing that airlines, authorities or other travelers can say will convince them to board.
CNN spoke with some of these self-ruled travelers to find out their biggest concern about air travel right now and what it would take to get them back over 30,000 feet.
For Chris Trinh, a 41
It is, too, he says, because he feels that no matter how careful he is, he cannot guarantee that others will be equally conscientious.
“It’s hard to trust other people,” he told CNN.
Trinh’s wife is Japanese, and the family usually spends longer holidays in Japan during the summer months. This is the first year they live in the United States.
“The risk is just too high and we just don’t want to travel,” he explains.
Trinh and his family are not alone. Retired CVS Health engineering manager Vincent Marseglia, 70, also avoids flying.
“You will be close to people, even if they leave the middle seats open,” Marseglia tells CNN, speaking from her home on Rhode Island.
Chris Trinh is worried about traveling with his young children.
Condition Chris Trinh
“There’s no way I’m going to get on a plane. Even before that, you have the crowds at the airports going through security, so you just expose yourself.”
Wisconsin-based Dean Calin, 60, who has worked in the commercial aviation industry for more than three decades, has similar fears.
Calin says his extensive aviation knowledge makes him more, rather than less, cautious as he flies in the coronavirus age.
“Although the airlines are taking steps to clean the interior and the air is properly filtered as a process in the air conditioning system, all of this cannot counteract the potential pollution that passengers will get each time the plane is loaded,” Calin tells CNN.
“I just don’t think there is any safe way to travel without a vaccine yet.”
Vincent Marseglia and his wife on a train traveling through France in 2016. Right now they are staying at home on Rhode Island.
With permission from Vincent Marseglia
Excluding air travel means thinking about holiday plans.
Marseglia says he is cautious in all aspects of his life because of his age. He distances socially during meetings with grandchildren and would not go on the train either – nor would he share a car without anyone but his wife.
Marseglia lives by the sea on Rhode Island, and he exchanges dreams of vacationing in Italy for local, socially distanced outings in the Jamestown coast.
He is cautious about traveling to other states, considering that different regions of the United States have adopted different strategies for quarantining and managing the virus.
But while pouring over photographs of past adventures in Europe is currently bittersweet, Marseglia is aware that he is in a privileged position, and so many have been more adversely affected by Covid-19.
“Even when a vaccine becomes available, I won’t be the first to run out and get it,” says Marseglia, who points out that he is lucky to be able to stay home and not worry about returning to a workplace.
“I am willing to wait as long as it takes to get the vaccine, so whether it is next year or the next year, I will not plan to make any kind of extensive travel until I know it is out there, and it is available and it’s effective and I can get it. “
Marseglia and his wife in Florence, Italy.
With permission from Vincent Marseglia
Dean Calin tells CNN that he has been self-isolating for over 100 days now, due to concerns about the virus’s impact on his asthma.
In addition to working in the aerospace industry, Calin is also a singer in a group. In early 2020, he looked forward to aviation-focused business trips along with music games around the world. It’s all on hold now.
“It is a sacrifice we must make if we intend to continue to live” is Calin’s perspective. “It’s challenging and it’s another way of living your life, but the alternative is to ignore it is to court death.”
Like Marseglia, Calin says he would only return to heaven if he had been vaccinated and he knew that the rest of the population had also had time to get the vaccine.
Right now, he calls those traveling again “either very brave or very stupid.”
“I just don’t think so without a vaccine. There is no safe way to travel yet,” he says.
How safe is it to travel?
Dr. William Schaffner, an expert on infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University, tells CNN that he does not currently advocate travel by airplane, especially in the United States.
“We have recommended our patients only really important trips at the moment, because in this country the virus is not under control. It is nationwide and continues to spread in an inhibited way,” Schaffner tells CNN.
Schaffner’s perspective is that people should only travel for personal reasons, in unavoidable circumstances.
“Even then, we ask them to do it very, very carefully, wear their masks all the time and keep social distance,” he adds.
Schaffner is mainly concerned about the potential for the virus to spread in crowded airports, where social distance is difficult to maintain. He also expresses concern that travelers are tightly packed in the cabin.
While some are cautious, others return to air travel.
“Any hullabaloo that has to do with travel often puts you very close to others in confined spaces,” he says.
Schaffner is also worried about the effects of traveling back and forth from a place where there can be a particularly large number of cases.
The infectious disease expert has a Florida vacation home, where he and his wife usually spend the summer months. They won’t be going there this year, he explains. The couple is at risk because of their age, which helps to hesitate, but they are also concerned about the high rate of infection in Florida.
“Once we get a vaccine or vaccine, and they can prove to be reasonable and safe and they start distributing, then – if we are vaccinated – we can travel,” Schaffner says.
Dean Calin, formerly frequent aircraft
“And we would be even more comforted if we realized that the vast majority of the population out there also got the vaccine,” he adds. “I think it will reduce the transmission of this Covid virus, so things can really start to return to normal.”
That said, Schaffner’s aware that this can be free.
“I think this period of caution will be quite extensive, over a period of months, extensive months,” Schaffner says.
In the United States, Operation Warp Speed is a vaccine program aimed at delivering a Covid-19 vaccine in 2021.
Trinh remains optimistic that his family will one day be able to travel comfortably again.
Condition Chris Trinh
Trinh is willing to play the long game when it comes to returning to global travel.
The day they were to fly to Japan, Trinh’s wife and children were upset over the plans that would not be. Not only were they sad about the canceled vacation; they do not know when next time they will see their extended family.
But Trinh says he is cautiously optimistic about the future.
“I feel it’s just a temporary thing, right? I mean, if it lasts a year, maybe two years, that’s exactly what we have to do,” he says. “For me it is unfortunate that it happens, but at the same time hopefully it is a once in a lifetime event.
Trinh is also diplomatic about reports of other travelers returning to the sky in packed aircraft.
“I see it as each person’s choice,” he says. “I mean, as long as everyone accepts the risks they take, I think it’s okay.”
He is convinced that there will be a solution eventually, and his family will board an aircraft again.
“Hopefully it gets better at that point, that we’re back to traveling on an annual basis,” he says.