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United Airlines comes out in favor of making vaccines mandatory for employees

Jan. 22, 2021
3 min read
United Airlines comes out in favor of making vaccines mandatory for employees
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If United's CEO has his way, all of the company's employees will be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

In an internal town hall, first reported by CNBC and later confirmed by the carrier to TPG, Scott Kirby, United's chief executive officer said of employees that "I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory."

The vaccine comment comes as COVID-19 cases surge nationwide, amidst a slower-than-anticipated rollout of recently approved Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines.

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For one, Kirby's comment doesn't mean that vaccines are required just yet. However, the airline is working through some of the logistical challenges to implementing a mandatory COVID vaccine policy.

Some of the issues include state and local mandates on priority vaccine recipients, securing supply and setting up clinics at hub airports. Plus, the approved vaccines require two doses, spaced roughly three to four weeks apart. Flying crew through an airport within the booster period is another challenge for the airline.

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In select jurisdictions, like New York, airline crew are already eligible to receive the vaccine. In others, like Florida, it's currently limited to seniors aged 65 or older and front-line healthcare workers.

Notably, United wouldn't require passengers to be vaccinated, at least not yet. Other airlines, like Qantas, have already said that flyers should expect a vaccine requirement to travel with the Sydney-based carrier.

It remains to be seen if other domestic airlines will follow United's lead if — and when — it requires vaccines for employees.

Southwest Airlines recently said that it would "strongly encourage" employees to get the shots, but stopped short of saying it would be "mandatory". The Dallas-based carrier plans to make the vaccine widely available to its employees for free once supply has increased.

Either way, Kirby would like to see other companies follow his lead. "I don't think United will get away with and can realistically be the only company that requires vaccines and makes them mandatory. We need some others... Particularly in the healthcare industry," he remarked.

Of course, it'll take at least a few companies to get the dominoes to start falling. And then, "if others go along and are willing to start to mandate vaccines, you should probably expect United to be amongst the first wave of companies that do it."

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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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
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  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • 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
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.