New Audio Available for Media Use: Returning to Normal Travel in a Post-Covid World


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

New Audio Available for Media Use: Returning to Normal Travel in a Post-Covid World

BALTIMORE, MD, May 17, 2022 – New audio is available for media use featuring Arnold Barnett. He is the George Eastman Professor of Management Science and a Professor of Statistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. All sound should be attributed to Arnold Barnett. There are 4 questions and responses. These responses were provided on May 12, 2022.



Question 1: As airlines relax mask mandates, what are your biggest concerns now with air travel?

Time Cue: 0:24, Soundbite Duration: 0:39

“Well, one of my biggest concerns is the very fact that they're relaxing the mask mandates. This is not justified based on the level of risk associated with flying. You know it is true that the airplanes have very effective air purification systems but that means that if someone's contagious as six rows away from you then the chances are you won't be infected. But, if the person next to you is contagious then these systems don't help.  I think it's very unfortunate that the mask mandates have ended and I think CDC continues to want those mandates to prevail, and they are right.”



Question 2: Are we entering a “post-Covid” phase for air travel?

Time Cue: 01:12, Soundbite Duration: 0:28

”No, I don't believe so. The airlines may like to describe it that way but the latest projections are that we might have 100 million new cases of Covid-19 in the U.S. later this year. And even if you assume only one in a thousand of those leads to death, and that's an optimistic estimate, that's 100,000 additional deaths. So, I don't think we should be blasé about those numbers and talk about post Covid when Covid itself is still very much a menace.”



Question 3: What should airlines and airports do to ensure to mitigate against new variants and seasonal surges of Covid-19?

Time Cue: 01:47, Soundbite Duration: 0:30 

“Well, I think they should reinstitute the precautions that unfortunately have gone away. I believe in an ideal world everyone in the airport and on the airplane will be wearing a mask and a good mask - an N95 or a KN95 – I believe in the airports where social distancing is possible. People should practice it and just in general, the things we would have done a year ago or two years ago without question are things that continue to be important today.”



Question 4: How would you describe “the new normal” of air travel?

Time Cue: 02:28, Soundbite Duration: 0:26

“Well, I don't mean to be obnoxious, but I would take issue with the phrase, “the new normal.” The Covid pandemic is not normal. We've lost a million lives already it continues to flourish much more than we ever imagined it would. So, we can't talk about normal until the actual realities of the pandemic allow us to talk about being normal. We should be just as cautious as we were earlier in the pandemic.


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With more than 12,000 members from around the world, INFORMS is the largest association for the decision and data sciences, made up of professionals and students. INFORMS members support organizations and governments at all levels as they work to transform data into information, and information into insights that lead to more efficient, effective, equitable and impactful results.




Ashley Smith