A senator just introduced a bill to require COVID-19 vaccinations for domestic flights

Oct 1, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

A U.S. senator wants to require all travelers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or have a negative test to take a domestic flight.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, introduced a bill earlier this week that would require all passengers on domestic flights to be fully vaccinated or have proof they’ve recently tested negative or have fully recovered from COVID-19. (Travelers flying back into the U.S. from abroad are already required to show proof of a negative coronavirus test).

The bill, called the  U.S. Air Travel Public Safety Act, would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Federal Aviation Administration to develop “national vaccination standards” for air travel.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

“We know that air travel during the 2020 holiday season contributed to last winter’s devastating COVID-19 surge. We simply cannot allow that to happen again,” Feinstein said in a statement on Sept. 29.

“Ensuring that air travelers protect themselves and their destination communities from this disease is critical to prevent the next surge, particularly if we confront new, more virulent variants of COVID-19.”

The White House’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, made waves in September after saying he would support a vaccine mandate for domestic air travel (but also said he wasn’t proposing a plan).

Several airlines have already begun requiring their employees to be vaccinated. United Airlines said more than 99% of its employees were now fully vaccinated after the airline said it would fire employees who did not comply with the mandate or didn’t have a medical or religious exemption. And now, travelers — as well as the travel industry — are gearing up for November, when the U.S. reopens to fully vaccinated foreigners.

But requiring proof of vaccination (or testing) is likely to draw the ire of the travel industry, which has long said that COVID-19 vaccinations should not be mandated for domestic air travel. Earlier this year, the Biden administration floated the idea of a domestic testing mandate before quickly walking it back after backlash from the industry. TPG reached out to Airlines for America (A4A), the trade organization representing the airline industry, for comment on Feinstein’s bill but did not hear back in time for publication.

But this was before the highly transmissible delta coronavirus variant, which fueled a surge in positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths this summer in the United States.

While figures have begun to drop, so have COVID-19 vaccinations.

Daily doses administered in the U.S. have sharply dropped: After a mid-April high of 4.6 million doses, the U.S. is averaging just under a quarter of a million new doses a day right now. Currently, 56% of Americans are now fully vaccinated, and 75% of Americans have received at least one dose.

Many travelers, however, support a domestic vaccine mandate. According to a survey conducted by the points and miles website Upgraded Points, 75% of travelers say proof of vaccination should be required to fly on an airplane.

More than half of respondents said only vaccinated travelers should be allowed to travel domestically.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.