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

Oct. 01, 2021
3 min read
A senator just introduced a bill to require COVID-19 vaccinations for domestic flights
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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.

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“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.

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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 image by Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more