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Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek June 7, 2021

There’s no evidence airlines met to ‘discuss the risks’ of letting vaccinated people fly

If Your Time is short

• There is no evidence that airlines met to “discuss the risks” of allowing passengers who’ve received COVID-19 vaccines to fly. 

• Blood clots are a risk when traveling due to prolonged periods of stillness. This was the case well before COVID-19 vaccines were available. These types of clots are different from the rare ones associated with one of the vaccines.

According to some social media users, people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 might soon encounter difficulty traveling by plane — yes, those who have been vaccinated.

One Instagram user claimed that airlines are concerned about the health and legal risks of allowing vaccinated people on board their planes.

"Airlines are meeting today to discuss the risks of carrying vaxed passengers due to the risk of clots and the liabilities involved," the May 30 post reads. "Oh the irony only the non vaxed can fly."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The claim has been debunked before.

There is no evidence that airlines gathered to "discuss the risks" of carrying vaccinated passengers.

"We’re not aware of any such meeting having taken place on 30 May or otherwise," said Perry Flint, the U.S. head of corporate communications for the International Air Transport Association, an airline trade group. 

A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said the company didn’t "have any knowledge" of any such meeting and added that "we have not had internal conversations on this topic."

There is also no evidence airlines have expressed concerns about blood clots among vaccinated passengers or about liability associated with them.

"IATA’s position is that travelers who are vaccinated should be free to travel without restriction," Flint said.

Featured Fact-check

In the U.S., about 41.9% of the population — or about 138 million people — has been fully vaccinated, and about 51.5% of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Blood clots

Blood clots were a known risk of long-distance travel long before COVID-19 or vaccines for the disease existed. The clots associated with travel are known as deep vein thrombosis and are caused by long periods of immobility. The CDC has had a webpage about how to mitigate the risks of blood clots when traveling long distances since at least 2013

Those clots are different from the handful of cases of extremely rare blood clots that are associated with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. They involve clots known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis. They form in the brain, which means they can lead to headaches or stroke, according to Business Insider

Experts caution that people who contract COVID-19 are at greater risk for developing abnormal blood clots.

"Vaccinated people would have a far lower risk of getting blood clots, because they have a far lower risk of having COVID, and having COVID is what causes blood clots," explained Dr. Mark Crowther, a thrombosis expert for the American Society of Hematology and chair of the department of medicine at McMaster University.

Crowther noted that neither of the mRNA vaccines approved for use in the U.S. has been linked to an increased risk of blood-clotting disorders, while the J&J vaccine has been associated with a "tiny increase in the risk of a very rare blood clotting disorder." 

"If I were an airline I would be very concerned about unvaccinated people — for more than one reason — and would welcome vaccinated people onto my aircraft," he said. 

Our ruling

An Instagram user claimed, "Airlines are meeting today to discuss the risks of carrying vaxed passengers due to the risk of clots and the liabilities involved," and suggested that soon only unvaccinated people would be allowed to fly. 

Industry leaders said they had no knowledge of such a meeting, and there is no evidence that any airlines plan to prevent vaccinated people from flying. Additionally, experts said that blood clots are far more likely to develop as a result of COVID-19, rather than as a result of the vaccine. 

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Instagram post, May 30, 2021

Associated Press, "No record airlines met to discuss liabilities related to vaccine," June 3, 2021

International Air Transport Association, "About us," accessed June 7, 2021

Email exchange with Perry Flint, the U.S. head of corporate communications for the International Air Transport Association, June 7, 2021

Email exchange with Brandy King, external communications director at Southwest Airlines, June 7, 2021

Email exchange with Dr. Mark Crowther, a thrombosis expert for the American Society of Hematology and chair of the department of medicine at McMaster University, June 7, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "COVID-19 Vaccinations in the United States," accessed June 7, 2021

Axios, "More than 300 million COVID vaccine shots administered in U.S.," June 6, 2021

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "Blood Clots and Travel," accessed June 7, 2021

Associated Press, "EXPLAINER: What’s known about J&J’s vaccine and rare clots," April 13, 2021

Yale Medicine, "The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Blood Clots: What You Need to Know," April 23, 2021

Business Insider, "Rare blood clots following both the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines might be no coincidence — they share the same technology," April 14, 2021

The New England Journal of Medicine, "SARS-CoV-2 Vaccine–Induced Immune Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia," April 16, 2021

CNN, "These blood clot experts want you to get a Covid-19 vaccine. Here's why," April 21, 2021

Johns Hopkins Medicine, "What Does COVID Do to Your Blood?" Nov. 18 , 2020

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There’s no evidence airlines met to ‘discuss the risks’ of letting vaccinated people fly

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