Blade becomes first aviation company to require passengers to be fully vaccinated
Not vaccinated? Don't expect to fly — at least not on Blade.
Starting Sept. 7, 2021, the company will require passengers to be fully vaccinated on all services, including helicopter, seaplane and jet. It's the first aviation company to implement vaccination requirements for U.S. passengers.
Blade founder and CEO Rob Wiesenthal told TPG that "passengers want the security of knowing their fellow fliers are vaccinated."
While it's a safety measure on the surface, Wiesenthal suggested it's a business play, too. "We believe it will ultimately increase our passenger volume,” he said.
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Airlines have taken a different approach. United and Frontier announced vaccination requirements for employees last week, though there is no such requirement for passengers on any big U.S. carrier.
United led the way, requiring all of its U.S. staff to receive a COVID-19 vaccination five weeks after the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) fully approves one of the vaccines, or five weeks after Sept. 20, whichever comes first. Soon after United's announcement, Frontier Airlines also stated that its employees must be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1, 2021.
Wiesenthal says he believes he knows why the major commercial carriers aren't taking a stronger stance on vaccines.
“It’s not happening on commercial airlines because it is too difficult to scale on 300 or even 150 passenger jets. With our helicopter, amphibious seaplane, and jet services, we have enough highly trained ground staff to manage this process as we only have 6-16 passengers per flight.”
In an email to customers, Blade says that any passenger who wishes to fly with Blade must be fully vaccinated at the time of their flight, excluding those under the age of 12 or subject to a medical exemption. In addition, the vaccination must have occurred at least two weeks prior to the flight date.
If you show up to a flight without proof of vaccination, you aren't entitled to a refund.
Related: Delta won’t hire you unless you’ve been vaccinated, CEO says
Blade is perhaps best known for its regularly scheduled, by-the-seat helicopter service between Manhattan and New York City-area airports. In June, Blade restarted this service after a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic.
Currently, the company offers Manhattan to New York’s JFK Airport with Newark (EWR) LaGuardia (LGA) airport service resumption starting this fall.
Flights can be booked directly through Blade or Kayak at a cost of $195 per seat each way. However, through Sept. 5, 2021, you can book two seats on the helicopter for the price of one. Just use the coupon code PLUSONE at checkout.