No record airlines met to discuss liabilities related to vaccine

CLAIM: Airlines recently met to discuss the risks and liability of carrying passengers vaccinated against COVID-19 since they could develop blood clots.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. There’s no evidence that major airlines had a recent meeting to discuss the risks of transporting vaccinated passengers or that flying will trigger blood clots in that population.

THE FACTS: An Instagram post that circulated widely falsely claimed that all airlines had met to discuss the risk of blood clots in vaccinated passengers.

“Airlines are meeting today to discuss the risks of carrying vaxed passengers due to the risk of clots and the liabilities involved,” the Instagram post states. “Oh the irony only the non vaxed can fly.” The post was liked thousands of times.

But there is no record of such a meeting and medical experts say there is no evidence flying will trigger extremely rare blood clots associated with some COVID-19 vaccines, such as those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.

“I can confirm that this is nonsense,” said Anthony Concil, Vice President Corporate Communications at International Air Transport Association, in response to the post. “We do have a medical advisory group that looks at health and air travel issues. This is not an issue on their agenda.”

“As far as we are aware there are no meetings taking place among airlines on this topic,” Concil said.

He also noted that the IATA, a trade association for global airlines, is “not aware of any suggestion in medical literature” that the kind of rare blood clots linked to certain COVID-19 vaccines have any impact on air travel.

In fact, the types of blood clots that people can develop on airplanes, such as deep vein thrombosis, are totally different” from the rare blood clots a small number of people developed after receiving certain COVID-19 vaccines, according to Dr. Elliott R. Haut, associate professor of surgery and a deep vein thrombosis expert at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Haut said the rare blood clots associated with some COVID-19 vaccines occur in unusual sites, forming in the veins of the brain or blood vessels in the abdomen. The Associated Press reported on studies that noted some people might be experiencing an uncommon immune response, forming antibodies that attack their own platelets.

Clots that develop on flights, such as deep vein thrombosis, typically form in the leg, and are often the result of people being cramped, not moving around, or pressurization.

“Those are kind of the normal ones,” Haut said, noting that deep vein thrombosis is relatively common in the U.S. “Travel is one of the associated factors.”

A spokesperson with American Airlines reviewed the Instagram post and told the AP in an email that “we do not currently have any information in regard to this claim.”

Airlines for America, an industry trade organization, said in a statement to the AP that vaccines will help boost international travel.

“U.S. airlines have been encouraged by the success of our nation’s vaccination program and, as noted in a recent coalition letter, have routinely expressed our belief that widespread vaccination can serve as the foundation for re-opening critical international markets,” the statement read.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: