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

Jan 22, 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.

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.

Want more airline-specific news? Sign up for TPG’s free new biweekly Aviation newsletter!

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.

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 photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

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.