United Airlines comes out in favor of making vaccines mandatory for employees
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
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.
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.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
- 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.
- 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