Breaking down Etihad’s impressive crew vaccine claim

Feb 11, 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.

“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.

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.

Featured photo courtesy of Etihad.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

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
  • Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at US restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery 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 $75 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 Pre✓®.
  • 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
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
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.