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Breaking down Etihad’s impressive crew vaccine claim

Feb. 11, 2021
3 min read
Breaking down Etihad’s impressive crew vaccine claim
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"Etihad Airways is the first airline in the world with 100% of crew on board vaccinated," a subject line read in my inbox Wednesday morning.

It's a very impressive claim, and sure to boost confidence among passengers looking to minimize their risk — if you have to fly right now, why not choose an airline that promises you'll fly with a fully vaccinated crew?

I had questions, so I dove into the details. The carrier didn’t specifically mention that pilots and flight attendants had received both required doses, so I wanted to start there.

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The airline’s statement included a timeline that technically made the claim possible — saying “Since December 2020, we have been offering in-house vaccination appointments to our employees…” — but getting two doses into every single crew member by now felt as though that would’ve been tough to accomplish.

So, I followed up with the airline for clarification. As it turns out, 100% of flight attendants and pilots have received the Sinopharm vaccine, which is said to be 79% effective. But some crew members have only gotten one shot so far — not the two required to achieve that rate.

While the airline employs a relatively small number of crew members, with some 5,000 on the books, getting both shots to everyone won’t happen overnight. Additionally, it takes some time to build up immunity after the second shot — which can be administered three weeks after the first.

So, back to Etihad’s claim: While the carrier has apparently given all of its crew members at least a first shot, it seems that the crew won’t be fully vaccinated for at least a few more weeks.

Related: Half of Americans say travel affects their decision to get vaccinated

Other airlines also remain in the race to inoculate all crew — Singapore Airlines will provide employees with Pfizer's vaccine, while Emirates is working to roll out the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines among its staff.

U.S. airlines are also hoping to have employees inoculated quickly — United's CEO is even considering making the vaccination mandatory, though with states handling the rollout, it isn't even available to all airline employees yet.

It's also worth nothing that the Sinopharm vaccine is less effective than the 94% and above rate expected with the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines offered in the U.S., and it's not yet clear whether or not vaccinated people can transmit the disease to someone else. In other words, crew vaccination claims shouldn't have much bearing on which airline you choose to fly — at least not yet.

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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3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
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  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

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  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

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  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases