New Audio Available for Media Use: Transportation Logistics Expert Sheldon Jacobson on How to Address Variants for Air Travel in 2022


Ashley Smith
Public Affairs Coordinator

New Audio Available for Media Use: Transportation Logistics Expert Sheldon Jacobson on How to Address Variants for Air Travel in 2022

BALTIMORE, MD, December 21, 2021 – New audio is available for media use featuring transportation logistics expert Sheldon Jacobson on the impact of new COVID-19 variants’ on air travel for 2022 and what actions need to be taken to address them as they emerge. This content is made available by INFORMS, the largest association for the decision and data sciences. All sound should be attributed to Sheldon Jacobson, founder professor of computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He has researched aviation security systems since 1995 and is a prominent member of INFORMS.  

Below are 4 questions and responses. These responses were provided on December 20, 2021. 


Question 1: As we enter a New Year, how will the Covid variants continue to impact travel for travelers and the transportation sector?

Time Cue: 00:28, Soundbite Duration: 00:26

Transcription: “Travel is the lifeblood of our society and economic wellbeing. With COVID continuing to circulate, and Omicron now on the scene, what we’re beginning to see is a certain amount of caution entering people’s minds. How this will translate into volume of traffic in airplanes, trains, buses is still unclear. The key point is people have to be vigilant, aware, and also responsive as the public health environment changes.”


Question 2: What measures will airlines need to consider going into 2022, knowing that new variants can emerge at any time?

Time Cue: 01:08, Soundbite Duration: 00:55 

Transcription: “Well business as usual means nothing is usual anymore. We’ve seen face-coverings mandated by the federal government. This is something that is necessary, but what we’re forgetting is the quality of the face-covering is critical, not so much on airplanes, but before people board and after. The riskiest time that people have when they’re traveling by air is actually when they’re waiting to get onto the plane. That is when people are clustered together, people are getting tired, and face-masks start to drop, especially below their nose onto their chins. These are risky times. We need a far better and more robust system of allocating face-coverings, and it’s conceivable that airlines are going to start providing KN95s and N95s to passengers to ensure they are having a safer experience, from before they get on the plane to when they depart.”

Question 3: What steps should transportation leaders in government and business take to properly anticipate the emergence of new variants?

Time Cue: 02:09, Soundbite Duration: 00:31

Transcription: “Surveillance testing and sequencing is absolutely critical, and that’s why we’re in the situation now with Omicron. It’s important for the leaders to be flexible, but also humble in their response. I we simply do kneejerk reactions like travel bans, any time a new variant pops up, all we’re doing is closing the doors of the barn after the horses have already fled. What we have to do is look at every situation and act sensibly but responsibly.”


Question 4: What should travelers do on their own to best mitigate Covid variant risk when planning to travel and during their travels?

Time Cue: 02:45, Soundbite Duration: 00:32

Transcription: “First and foremost, vaccination is the single-best defense that every single traveler should consider. Traveling without being fully vaccinated, which means two shots and boosted, is really very risky for the individual. At the same time, wearing good quality, high-quality face-coverings and keeping them on appropriately is absolutely critical for their safety and the safety of the people around them.” 

# # #



INFORMS advances and promotes the science and technology of decision making to save lives, save money, and solve problems. As the largest association for the decision and data sciences, 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. INFORMS’ 10,000+ members are comprised of a diverse and robust international community of practitioners, researchers, educators, and students from a variety of fields. 



Ashley Smith