When it Comes to Vaccine Mandates, United Did This Right


The timer is counting down for airlines when it comes to COVID vaccine mandates, and what’s frustrating for many is that nobody is quite sure when the alarm will ring. With rhetoric ramping up, it is becoming increasingly clear that the early, decisive move by United to require vaccines for all employees was the right way to go. Other airlines are quickly finding out that hemming and hawing is only going to make life difficult.

On August 6, United took a pretty gutsy step by announcing that it would require all employees to be vaccinated or risk being fired. At the time, United said that 90 percent of pilots and 80 percent of flight attendants were vaccinated, but it didn’t give a full company number. The mandate would take effect on either October 25 or five weeks after the first vaccine received full FDA approval, whichever came first. When Pfizer received the approval, that set the drop dead date as September 27.

At the time, it was unclear how this would be received. Sure, the medical community and all vaccinated people would be happy about it. But — and I don’t need to tell anyone — there has been vaccine resistance in many parts of the US, and there was always the possibility that this could backfire on the airline. No other airline was mandating it as stiffly, and the government had not stepped in either. But by going early, United took a stand and gave employees more time to think about their choices.

Things started to unfold rather quickly after that, especially when the Pfizer vaccine gained approval. Delta and Alaska meekly tried to take a middle ground where they wouldn’t fire people but there would be punishments involved. And Southwest and American just punted, giving only meager incentives to encourage vaccination.

When the federal government came along with its vaccine requirement, that should have sealed the deal in the airline industry. Yes, it required companies with over 100 people to either require vaccines or put a testing mandate in place, but it didn’t offer the testing option to companies that wanted to remain government contractors. If the airlines want to keep that sweet, sweet government money flowing, they need to comply… eventually. It appears that new contractors have until December 8, but for existing contractors, it is not yet clear. Regardless, that date is coming. It’s just a matter of when.

For United, this was just a validation of its original strategy all along. The airline began to further clarify its policy by creating a path for those with medical or religious exemptions. Those with exemptions would all be put on leave this week, though that has been delayed a bit due to a pending lawsuit. Still, the company has been completely clear about where it stands, and employees have responded.

By September 22, United had more than 97 percent of US-based employees vaccinated. On Tuesday, it said that excluding those with approved exemptions, the airline was now above 99 percent. As an internal memo from CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart puts it:

… for the less than 1% of people who decided to not get vaccinated, we’ll unfortunately begin the process of separation from the airline per our policy. This was an incredibly difficult decision but keeping our team safe has always been our first priority. The pandemic is now killing more than 2,000 people per day – a 65% increase in just the past 30 days – and the most effective way to keep our people safe, is to make sure they’re vaccinated.

This impacts fewer than 600 people out of 67,000 at the airline. While it’s a shame those people will have to find work elsewhere, it has been clear for nearly two months that this was going to happen. And United will not skip a beat in finding new hires. According to a United spokesperson:

… all new hires must be vaccinated. Last month at a career fair in Denver, we received 700 applications for about 400 job postings. For flight attendants alone, we’ve gotten more than 20,000 applications for about 2,000 open positions. Some of the most qualified candidates volunteered that they were especially interested in career opportunities at United because of the vaccine requirement and what it says about the airline’s commitment to the safety of employees.

Additionally – we received more than 7,500 applications for our pilot training school, Aviate Academy, and all students at Aviate must be vaccinated as well.

In other words, the airline is not going to face any disruptions, and it will move forward easily. The same cannot necessarily be said for other airlines.

I could also point to Southwest, but American is probably the easiest example of what a wishy washy stance can do to an airline. It has encouraged employees to get vaccinated by offering an extra vacation day and a $50 credit for company rewards. That’s it.

The word from management has been pretty non-committal as well. CEO Doug Parker has said things like “If indeed the mandate now is everyone must be vaccinated or … tested once a week, we will obviously comply by that mandate.” And, “all along, as we’ve been going through this, we have been considering mandates and may have done one on our own. But what we wanted to do was do everything we could first to encourage everyone to do so.” And don’t forget, “Up to this point, we haven’t put people in that position of having to choose whether or not they are vaccinated or employed. That’s coming, though.”

All this has done is emboldened employee groups to try and fight against getting the vaccines while also trying to use it as a bargaining chip. American’s pilots released a startling number this week saying that 4,200 of the 14,000 pilots at the airline remain unvaccinated. And as for the mechanics at the massive Tulsa base? Well, have a look at this video from the president of Local 514.

If you don’t want to watch, the description will sum it up for you:

Do you want the President of the United States in your Health?
Do you want your employer to fire you over the vaccination?
We should send one voice to them “HELL NO, YOU WILL NOT FORCE US TO TAKE A SHOT.”

Except, as he admits in the video, it will be an “uphill battle” to get away from the mandate. So, this is going to just get uglier and uglier. We don’t know details on when the mandate will come into place, but simply waiting for it to happen is asking for trouble. Then again, at this point, American probably has no other choice since its unions have started to mobilize.

United got ahead of this, and it is now a non-issue for the airline. American keeps kicking the can, presumably until the date when it knows it has no choice, whenever that may be. Could this result in operational disruption? Sure, but for now it’s mostly just resulting in bad press at a time when people are thinking more about holiday travel.

United has shown that a strong, firm leadership stance can get a massive company to the end goal. American and others would rather play with fire.

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84 comments on “When it Comes to Vaccine Mandates, United Did This Right

  1. No vaccine, no job. Plain and simple. The idiotic arguments and stupid politicization of vaccines in America are one of dozens of factors contributing to the country’s steep decline. If you don’t want a COVID19 vaccine, then your healthcare premiums should be quadrupled, and be prepared to face a lot of financial and logistical inconveniences. It is the unvaccinated that are the problem. Not the vaccines. Not the vaccinated. Grow up America.

    1. Spot on shoeguy! I wonder if you & others realize the whole anti vaccine movement is based on a falsehood from 25-years ago. A British doctor named Andrew Wakefield claimed that vaccines caused autism , but his study had only a dozen children in it & it was self reporting & not by scientific observation. When the press got wind of the study however the latter facts I just mentioned were not reported & only the parts about vaccines that may cause autism got mentioned. So in fact the media bears some responsibility in what has been happening with the resistance towards the Covid vaccine & other vaccines that now have caused outbreaks of illnesses that were once believed to have been eliminated.

    2. Shoe guy must be on drugs himself. I know its not all political as he describes and your health shouldn’t be based on these beliefs People who truly care about their heath would never put this manmade crap in their system no matter what the mandate is .Its fat unhealthy people that are the real problem and United should ban these obese people from flying if they truly cared about public health. T

  2. Bravo United, I say! Because I’m always a bit perplexed by being lectured to by folks who are worried about “what’s in the vaccine?!?!” whilst they sip their Coca Cola.

    And for those who love to talk our ears off about personal Liberty – I support you, actually, as long as you also are prepared to accept any consequences for your actions. For example, if you are eligible but choose not to become vaccinated and end up in the ICU with a vaccine preventable illness, your insurance company should be able to mail you the bill for all your care.

    1. Jonny wrote Bravo United, I say! Because I’m always a bit perplexed by being lectured to by folks who are worried about “what’s in the vaccine?!?!” whilst they sip their Coca Cola.

      And for those who love to talk our ears off about personal Liberty – I support you, actually, as long as you also are prepared to accept any consequences for your actions.

      Problem it’s a one way street for those people & it’s all about them & how they are a victim of society & or the government & you don’t get it cause you are a sheep.

    1. I mean this respectfully, and I say this without stating my personal opinions on the matter and without intending to stir up a hornet’s nest…

      Given that some sociological groups (race, religion, ethnicity, etc) have lower vaccination rates than others, some have suggested that the vaccine mandates may negatively impact those minority groups the most. The cause of these lower vaccination rates, and the extent to which they are due to reduced opportunities or availabilities for vaccinations, as compared to cultural factors or general distrust of the government (the “Tuskegee experiments” and other sordid chapters in American history have been referenced by some) is a question that will undoubtedly be argued and discussed in scholarly journals for many years to come.

      On another note… I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more creative advertising efforts on this topic, especially as many people become increasingly weary (and tend to ignore) the continued COVID news. For example, a recent “Don’t get vaccinated” mobile billboard in Charlotte with the name of a (fake) funeral home on it (and a web address that re-directed to an urgent care center that provides vaccinations) went viral and made international news because it was creative/shocking enough to cut through the usual clutter.

  3. And is this correlated with the fact that United headquarters is in Illinois while American is in Texas? I think so.

    1. Per current statistics: Current fully vaccination rate in Illinois: 53.5%. Current rate in Texas: 55.2%. Your point, other than taking a cheap shot?

      Of course, both states are much lower than they should be.

  4. If we look at just the 4 largest carriers in the US, AA, DL, UA, WN…there is one thing to me that stands out about UA…their HQ is in a deep blue state. I wonder how the state governments would retaliate against AA, DL, and WN. The Georgia government has already taken steps to punish DL after DL came out against their voting restrictions.

    It would not be a large leap of logic to see the GA and especially TX governments passing some crazy punishment if the airlines were to push harder for vaccinations. And airlines are very vulnerable, especially now, to restrictive government policies.

      1. Oh c’mon now. We Floridians are vaccinated at the same rate or better than most Blue State residents. Our much maligned governor has encouraged our population to be vaccinated, along with the majority of civic, political, business and social leaders.

        As to the broader United mandate, it’s good business. You can get on a plane and be comfortable that the staff serving you is vaccinated. The terminal staff, baggage handlers, CSRs etc., all are vaccinated. It is an incredible example for the rest of the country.

        Thank God the anti-vaxers were nowhere to be found when we developed vaccines for polio, MMR, typhoid, smallpox and a host of other diseases. I remember being lined up for polio sugar cubes in the 1960s. Nobody questioned the polio mandate because our parents’ generation was a hell of a lot smarter than 40 percent of the U.S. population today.

        1. I mean he is trying to withhold pay from teachers for wanting mask mandates in schools. It’s certainly not a large leap to imagine if a FL based airline passed a vaccination mandate, especially one that made national news, he’d have something to say about it.

          Also there were anti-vaxxers back then. But it’s a lot easier to ignore a very loud, but small percentage of people when they’re yelling on street corner vs having global broadcast and social media platforms. So the government and most citizens just went ahead with the vaccinations while allowing the crazies to scream into the void as opposed to screaming into billions of homes world wide.

    1. Give Kirby credit, when he believes in something he states it clearly, shares his reasoning and moves ahead. Whether it’s his network strategy in 2017, his CO2 sequestration policy or his vaccine policy in 2021. You can follow him or you can get the heck out, but you can’t say you don’t know what he’s doing.

      Would he do this if he had to deal with clowns like Greg Abbott or Brian Kemp? My money’s on Kirby. Bastian, Kelly and particularly Parker aren’t the leader that he is.

      1. Exactly. I think it speaks volume about the strength of leadership and Kirby has shown time and time again that when he commits to something, he commits.

    2. I would guess they would not, because there ARE companies here in Texas that have passed vaccine mandates. This includes the hospital my wife works at. They had until tomorrow to get fully vaccinated or be fired.

      Most complied…bitching and moaning all the way.

      These are the same people they get a flu shot every year because the company mandates it, but the Covid shot? No that’s an affront to my liberty.

    3. Nick – I don’t think that HQ matters that much. American, Delta, and Southwest are huge and too important for the states to mess with them.
      Georgia tried with that fuel tax, but nothing came of it, because punishing Delta is not going to end well. That doesn’t mean some airlines didn’t take that into account, as I had originally assumed was the case. But if an airline is afraid of the state, then I’d say they’re miscalculating.

  5. The fact that this issue runs pretty much in lockstep with political ideology, it’s probably a safe bet that no one is going to change anyone’s mind either way.

    And I’ll just leave it at that.

    1. United’s gotten tens of thousands of employees vaccinated, going from 70% (or whatever) up to 97% of 67K. Guessing those aren’t all dyed-in-wool Democrats, so…

      1. Exactly. Just had to figure out what motivates people. Turns out it’s staying employed. Who would have figured?!

  6. IF the difference in vaccination rates between UA on the one hand and AA and WN on the other, with DL apparently in the middle, then UA’s higher vaccination rates should be apparent in one of 2 ways
    1. AA and WN should be mass sources of covid spread both among their employees and among their customers – and there should be data to show the higher public health risk at AA and WN
    2. AA and WN should be seeing much higher hospitalization and death rates among their employees and much higher costs to the company

    If either of those two datapoints can’t be established, then vaccine mandates can’t really be shown to be necessary. If those datapoints can be established, then they should be published to convincingly show the value of vaccination among normal, working age people.

    Otherwise, there is growing evidence nationwide that vaccine mandates are enough to force some workers to leave – and the problem is growing acute at some workplaces including hospitals where there are significant numbers of workers that are quitting just when they are most needed rather than take the vaccine.

    Either vaccination mandates will result in a massive collapse of workforces in the United States including at AA and WN or there is abundant evidence that low vaccination rates at AA and WN (which might not be much different from the nation as a whole) are contributing to the spread of covid at those airlines and increased death rates.

    If UA fires people that won’t get vaccinated while AA and WN just let them get sick and die of their own volition but the health of the vaccinated workforce and public isn’t compromised, then maybe AA, UA and WN all get to the same place – but AA and WN will spend a whole lot more on health care but they all lose a certain number of employees.

    We need real data to know who and what is being won.

    1. Do you dislike vaccine mandates, or are you just upset that DL isn’t getting a gold star for leading on this?

      I ask out of genuine concern for you. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. I don’t think you’re peddling conspiracy theories, but this lazy “begging the question” is the habit of conspiracy theorists.

      1. The whole “just asking question” schtick is tedious at best. It’s everywhere, and it’s employed by people desperate to either feel better about themselves, desperate for attention. or both.

    2. You and Kevin TOTALLY missed the point.
      In no way did I question the validity of the vaccine and I have also previously said that I am vaccinated and don’t understand why those that can get vaccinated do not – but it is my job to tell someone else what health decisions to make for themselves. It is precisely because I believe in the vaccines that I do not worry if someone else doesn’t get vaccinated because they are far more likely only hurting themselves.

      My point was and is that UA should be able to show some sort of benefit and AA/WN should have some cost because of the differences in their vaccination rates and those differences should include the transmission and number of cases among workers at those airlines, number of cases involving customers and employees, and the number of deaths and hospitalizations involving those airlines’ employees.

      That data should exist – whether today or 3 months from today – and should be shared to determine who took the right position.

      And if people are losing jobs, it might well be from United by firing those that won’t get a vaccination but also might include AA and WN employees that are dying. It isn’t unreasonable to ask for the numbers for each of those categories.

      1. Glad you’re not an antivaxxer. I’ll spare you a “it’s not a personal health decision, it’s a collective health decision” rant because you’re no doubt familiar.

      2. The data points have already been established across the country. I know personally of two hospitals filled with COVID patients, every single one unvaccinated. One is the mother of a friend, with only hours left to live, who declined the vaccine since she “has an immune system”.

        1. It’s sad but sometimes you have to sit back and let Charles Darwin do his work.

      3. I didn’t miss your point, since it was to imply that vaccines don’t work by demanding evidence of success from lower rates of hospitalization and death at UA vs others, an incredibly narrow sample which does not take control all the other variables which determine Covid outcomes, instead of accepting all of the overwhelming existing data that already has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the COVID VACCINES WORK.

        Your other, uhh, point I guess was really to whatabout UA’s policy and to set your criteria to evaluate mandate vs no mandate as a policy decision, and set your terms of success. Brett already outlined how UA’s policy was the correct decision. Operating with fewer unknowns is invaluable. Other airlines are operating with uncertainty and higher variability w/ their employees. Airlines exist to fly people places safely while making money. Unless their bookings dry up because of this policy, which is unlikely due to the vaccination levels of United Mileage Plus members, United has improved their ability to do just that with their mandate policy. The end.

    3. Thank you for the alternative viewpoint in the groupthink comment echo chamber. I thought for a minute I was on Youtube or Facebook or Twitter where any dissenting viewpoint is branded disinformation and stricken from the platform.

  7. Yes, great synopsis, Brett. United addressed this early and concisely, beginning with an inclusion for all new-hires to be vaccinated. As you mentioned, they announced their plan, and they stuck to it. I am impressed that ALPA didn’t get ugly about this, thru threats and posturing, like APA is now doing, since ALPA has so many more members than APA and potentially, could have positioned its members to gain something with the requirement. I wonder if UALA crew base leadership strategized their communication plan differently depending on where it is (Chicago versus Houston, for instance).

    If all goes well with winter COVID-19 numbers, I have at least four trips scheduled for which I need to purchase airline tickets. I can use American, Delta, or United. Regardless of cost, and regardless of connection “inconvenience”, I am choosing United because of this COVID-19 vaccination requirement. This is the least I can do to show my support of this mandate. Well done, Scott and team!

    1. Coming from a pilot friend at UA, ALPA put out a statement to the pilots that they will not fight this and to do so would a be costly legal battle that they would eventually likely lose. Apparently they consulted a bunch of law firms on this. (Again this is secondhand info from a pilot).
      United Airlines – Get Vaxxed or Get Gone! (TM)

  8. I’m just curious, does this includes United’s contractors and regional affiliates?

    Like will I definitely have a vaccinated crew on a United Express flight operated by SkyWest?

    Does it include the contracted ground staff at my local non-hub airport?

    1. It includes employees of United Ground Express, a major contractor that does ground-handling and vendor work across the country. Direct employees of regional carriers are not included at this point.

  9. It’s just a small, never-growing airline perpetually living in the shadows of competitors BUT it has been hilarious to watch Alaska’s vaccination plan waver between “anti-vaxx” to “I guess maybe you should get it.” From the get-go Alaska was afraid to offer any incentives or strong recommendations to be vaccinated, with executives saying that incentives like time off or extra pay would have “cost too much.” At one point they offered a few cheap, hokey prizes. For example, all vaccinated employees had a chance to enter a drawing to win a lounge membership or one of a pair of hockey tickets (! Cringe! Super cheap and embarrassing!). Finally, this fall, they offered $200 per vaccinated employee, but this remains still the cheapest, stingiest “incentive” in the industry.

    If Alaska really believed in vaccinating employees (and, given their safety department’s plodding, “respect personal freedoms” approach to the subject, I doubt they really do), they’d reach parity with other airlines and offer time off. Even American, worst of the majors, offers a full day off. Despite being purportedly an analytics- and evidence-based company, Alaska blindly estimated, with no evidence whatsoever, that 25% to 30% of employees would quit if there was a vaccine mandate. But United proves this wrong.

    I know Alaska probably thinks it’s still important to placate and pacify right-wing anti-vaxx sentiment, but that sentiment is not coming from their frontline employees — it’s coming from the executives themselves. It’s hard not to look at Alaska’s COVID response and see it as anything but a disaster, top-to-bottom, led by people whose politics come before Alaska’s people.

  10. C’mon, we all know AA is focusing on the real issues in commercial aviation today:

    – Providing customers 30 minutes of free TikTok
    – Lobbying to get airport restaurants/bars to stop serving drinks in plastic cups

  11. Loved it when the union boss Danker brought up the point that when the vaccines were first being rolled out Biden/Harris were like “I’m not taking any vaccine Trump had anything to do with”. Now all of a sudden they’re hawking a different story. Wish our leaders would care more about helping our country than scoring political points with their base.

      1. Ok, so Cranky, you’re splitting hairs here. Kamala says “if Fauci says to take it I’ll take it but if Trump says to take it, I won’t take it.” This is from the Politico article you linked. So yes she was scoring points with her base.

        1. Generally speaking it makes sense to take medical advice from a medical doctor instead of a self promoting, narcissistic, sociopath. Which is quite obviously the analogy she was making.

          But regardless of that, medical advice from medical doctors is always vastly superior to medical advice from those who aren’t medical doctors.

        2. Absolutely right. Anything to sh*t on trump and operation warp speed… but now the vaccine is a gift from God and forcing people to take it. I am vaccinated and not anti vax.. but yeah … Kamala is a hypocrite

  12. For those who talk about labor and pilot shortages…is some pilot REALLY going to to walk away from a 20 year career over a shot?

    They can’t just walk across the street and get the same job. A United pilot trying to go to work at American or Delta walks in as the most junior FO in the company, sitting reserve in the worst hub.

    Is a guy going to from being a 777 captain to being an FO on a 717, based in Detroit? Come on.

    And in any case, my thought is that the other airlines would avoid hiring such a pilot anyway. If your political beliefs are so strong you will bail on your current job rather than get a shot that a freaking BILLION other people have gotten, I would not want you anyway.

    This is the same with doctors and nurses in places like NY and CT. Are you going to walk away from a medical career over this? Not many will.

    1. And even if the United pilot does decide they rather go sit on reserve for the right seat on that 717, it accomplishes absolutely nothing since United isn’t the only airline requiring all new hires to be vaccinated. So they left their job instead of getting vaccinated, but they’ll have to get vaccinated in order to get a new one anyway.

      This isn’t just a pilot issue. It will be an issue for many antivaxxers across the country. As long as there’s a requirement for companies with 100 or more employees to have a vaccinate-or-test program, there’s not going to be a lot of alternative employment options for these people. There’s only so many small businesses out there.

  13. Unfortunately, the debate over vaccines has devolved along political lines.
    While I’m super impressed with the courage and decisiveness demonstrated by UA’s management, I’m also somewhat sympathetic to the challenges faced by managements at AA and WN. Cranky didn’t discuss this, but I’d guess that employees at the latter airlines are more likely to reside in “red” areas of the country, while UA employees are more likely to reside in “blue” areas. The fact that 90% of UA pilots were vaccinated in the absence of a mandate compared with (apparently) 70% at AA illustrates the trickiness of the situation.

    1. kingofswampcastle – I tried to get United’s pilot numbers by base, but they won’t break it down for me. But United does have significant numbers of employees in Texas, and it did not run into any trouble with them getting the vaccine. There are also plenty of people in even the most anti-vaxxer states. I don’t think any state is under 40% at this point. So it’s not like nobody gets vaccinated in these states anyway. To me, that sounds like an easy scapegoat for management if they don’t want to make the tough decisions.

      1. Exactly. Leadership is extremely well compensated to, you know, lead. Kirby did a great job of that.

        Hopefully people like me who are tried of hearing high school dropouts talking about doing “research” and coming up with different conclusions than nearly all of the planet’s doctors, scientists, virologists, molecular biologists, etc. will book United.

      2. Okay, so you can go to a site like LinkedIn and do some analysis, which I took the time to do. Turns out that between 33% and 37% of the AA, WN, UA workforces are represented on that platform. Based on those samples — obviously not perfect — you can estimate the percentage of the pilot workforce of each company that resides in each state. If we then classify each state as red or blue, it turns out that red state pilot workforce percentages are 41% for AA, 45% for WN and 23% for UA.

    1. Hey Dee. Question. What about the rights of the people you happen to be in close proximity to? Does your right to not get a vaccine mean you have the right to kill them with a disease that you could give them?

      Question number 2. What is “socialistic” about a company (not the government) deciding that their employees need to be vaccinated against a potentially deadly disease to make their workplace safer?

      I’ll hang up and listen.

    2. Go take your horse dewormer and have the decency to die at home instead of wasting a hospital bed that someone with at least half a brain could otherwise use.

    3. I’m all for personal freedoms not to get vaccinated.

      I also am all for preventing the unvaccinated from working for an airline, flying on an airline, going to a movie theatre, sporting event, restaurant, gym, or mall.

      You don’t want to get vaccinated? Fine stay at home and pickup you groceries on the curb. But don’t expect that your choice doesn’t have consequences.

      1. Exactly. In the end, this is 100% about choice. Get vaxxed, or don’t. That’s it. Everyone is free to choose one or the other. You don’t get to have it both ways.

      2. You sound like a fascist dictator. How does me not getting the experimental injection affect anyone? I mean, if the vax works like you think it does, and you think it protects you, then why do you care if I don’t take it? Gain some basic logic or take your communist ideas somewhere else.

        1. Talk about needing some basic knowledge! Nobody thinks the vaccine is 100% effective. That’s why the rest of us are worried about being around morons like you.

        2. Since this is an aviation blog, I’ll refer you to the Swiss Cheese theory.

          On airplanes pilots have checklists. Sure pilots know how to fly, but sometimes they forget things, so they use checklists to reduce the chance of them forgetting and causing a catastrophic event.

          In the back of the plane seats are designed to protect passengers from a crash. But, if the pilots, air traffic control, and airplane engineers do their jobs perfectly, passengers should be fine with wooden pews without seatbelts. The plane will never crash, so why bother with seats that can withstand a multi-g crashes or seatbelts that’ll keep passengers in their seat and prevent injury to themselves and others? (Injury to others as they fly out of their seats and hit someone else, potentially blocking an emergency exit.)

          Are the vaccines as perfect as pilots, air traffic control, or airplane engineers? Nope. Definitely not. Are they damn good? Yup they’re better than almost any other vaccines have been.

          Are the vaccines experimental? No. They had a rigorous, if compressed testing regime. Are the mRNA vaccines of a new technology? Yup. But the J&J vaccine is of an older technology. If you don’t want to get an mRNA vaccine? Okay, get the J&J vaccine.

          The mRNA vaccines have been given to over 200 million people in the Americas, if there was a major problem, don’t you think it’s be obvious by now? Yes, there have been minor problems, but they’re much smaller than the illness caused by COVID.

          Sent from my computer that moonlights as a phone.

        3. Atlas–

          I couldn’t care less if you take it or not. Your body, your choice. You will also be making a choice whether or not to participate in society. The choice is 100% yours, but you only get to pick one.

          1. in other words, follow the science until there is no more data to prove that the steps being taken really make a difference and then press on with the rules whether they make a difference or not.

            You do understand that there is a difference in the general population and those of airline workforces, don’t you? Just because people in the general population are dying doesn’t mean that is happening in airline workforces. Data, not opinions about what others should do would confirm whether there is really any difference in the health of the workforces at American, Delta, Southwest and United and their clearly different vaccination rates.

            If you are so convinced of the safety of the vaccine you took, why do you care whether others take it or not? if there are people in your life that are at risk, get a shot in their arm.

            If you aren’t convinced of the safety of the vaccine, then maybe others aren’t taking it precisely for that reason.

            I took the vaccine but I don’t run around w/ my hair on fire trying to mandate restrictions on other people.

            For calling other people dogmatic, you appear to be unable to let other people make their own choice.

            if AA’s maintenance base in Tulsa grinds to a halt because of covid deaths or the refusal of anti-vaxxers, then AA will realize they made a mistake. But I’m betting neither will happen.

            1. Tim – While I’m sure nothing will change your mind, not even science, feel free to browse https://www.facebook.com/twu514/ and see all the deaths. Though they don’t list the cause of death, as one commenter notes, “Seeing too many of these lately.”

            2. CF,
              I am not doubting that the vaccines work and that there are unvaccinated people that are dying. But we don’t have enough data to know whether there is any difference in the death rates of AIRLINE EMPLOYEES – which is who the vaccine mandates are being discussed for.

              And, ultimately, the questions are 1. if the vaccines work, then why should they be mandated under the guise of helping others?
              being unvaccinated hurts the unvaccinated – but so does high blood pressure, obesity etc. Why should we be dictating medicines that save people if they are still free to overload on Cheetos?
              2. Who are the unvaccinated at airlines and are they becoming diseased and dying as much or less than the general population? Maybe they have had covid and have natural protection, maybe they are young.
              3. Even if airlines achieve 100% vaccination among their own employees, if they work w/ unvaccinated people, then they WILL, not could be but will be, exposed to the virus. Even fully vaccinated populations are getting covid though w/ less severe symptoms.
              4. If the issue is really about cutting costs for airlines by reducing disease costs, what is the difference in cost in firing hundreds of people vs. the increased health costs for some unknown number of covid hospitalizations?

              Answers to those questions are based on data from AIRLINES not the general public. The fact that AA and WN won’t release data tells me they are content w/ where they are and will slow walk their response to avoid the wrath of their employees – accepting higher health care costs. until perhaps the gov’t forces the issue and maybe airline staffs walk off the job and then they ask for more federal money.

              I am simply not convinced that airline vaccine mandates are solving America’s covid problem and are targeted at the the people who need to be vaccinated.

            3. I know how this works. First, we don’t know if the vaccines are safe and effective. Then we do, but are they effective for this industry? And then, are they effective for this workgroup? What about certain ages in the workgroup? What about people who are left-handed? You can data this thing to death, but that’s a mistake. We know the vaccines are safe and highly effective. The majority of Americans support vaccine mandates with only about a third of the population opposing them, according to polls that have come out recently. I am sure you will never have the data you require to commit to supporting a mandate, but that’s why I’m glad there are people running companies that are willing to make the right decisions, even when they’re hard.

              You make a poor comparison suggesting that mandating a vaccine for COVID is like obesity or high blood pressure and it’s none of our business to get involved. If you have obesity or high blood pressure, it does not affect me. If you get COVID, you provide a breeding ground for the virus to mutate and eventually evade the vaccine. That impacts me significantly. If we followed your logic, we’d still have smallpox and polio in the US. The only way to eradicate them is to make sure they have few or no hosts willing to let them in.

              You say American and Southwest are content with hemming and hawing, but you don’t know that. That is pure speculation. I imagine American and Southwest are just happy waiting for the government to tell them what to do instead of taking a stand and doing what’s right. It’s the EASY thing to do. American has finally admitted it will have to require vaccines, but it may only have 2 months to get it all done, and that might be ugly. It could have been done with this like United if it had the courage and forethought.

            4. CF
              You really don’t believe in the effectiveness of the vaccines if you believe you are at risk from the unvaccinated. I am sorry but that is just reality.
              And airline employee populations are not the same as the general public for which we have fairly robust data.
              We simply do not know if increased vaccination of airline employees will result in significantly better outcomes for each airline compared to the general public.
              And I suspect but do not know why American and Southwest are not being more aggressive w vaccine mandates and it has everything to do with employee relations. Their employees might end up having to get vaccinated and so might their customers but the government becomes the bad guy. United wasn’t worried about being seen as the bad guy. We will see in time who miscalculated

            5. You either didn’t read my comment or you chose to ignore it and restate fallacies. I believe in the effectiveness of the vaccine, and I credit the vaccine for making my breakthrough case a mild one. I also believe in the effectiveness of viruses mutating when they are given enough hosts to create that opportunity. Vaccines do not somehow prevent viruses from mutating. And all those people who refuse to get vaccinated or only giving the virus more opportunity.

            6. I think we need to see where this virus goes. The delta variant arose in India six months ago when vaccination rates worldwide were very low. The rates of death among vaccinated people are very low in countries that have aggressively vaccinated. There are large numbers of unvaccinated immigrants that are entering Europe including the UK and the US which is why it is very hard to identify death rates among the types of people that work for airlines as compared to the population as a whole.
              You are right that more variants are possible but the fact that the world has now gone six months without a major new outbreak is positive. Of course that can change but the vaccines are doing what they were designed to do – limit severe illness in the vaccinated. Let’s also be honest that there will be a “thinning of the herd” among those that aren’t willing to use medical technology to reduce risk; just like every other medicine, the vaccines are not perfect. It is no consolation when you or a loved one is the rare exception to the relative safety of any drug compared to the disease.
              My plans and yours are subject to alteration as we test for a disease unlike what the world has ever seen. There is and will be a greater focus on personal health which is a good thing.
              We can wait to see what happens esp. between UA on the one side and the two Texas based airlines on the other side.

              As the stock market showed on Friday, the biggest challenge to the vaccines is now coming from Merck’s new covid treatment pill which is showing signs of being more effective in treating covid than the vaccines are in preventing severe disease. Humankind has flourished over time because God has given us the ability to adapt to and overcome our circumstances and that will be the story of covid, just as it has been w/ other major disease outbreaks over the course of human history.

              I enjoy the discussion and am grateful for your willingness to foster healthy and respectful discussion around issues that matter in the airline industry. All the best to you and yours

  14. I have no sympathy for the anti vaxxers, and United did the right thing. I am waiting for the company I work with to issue some clear guidance, we are a government contractor and we have more than 60,000 employees in the US. That being said, there are a LOT of nutty pilots and mechanics out there, if they want to try and play chicken with their careers, its their stupid choice. Want to lose that left seat and all your bennies and seniority?

    WRT religious accommodation, Clouthier vs. Costco, while ostensibly about dress codes, did codify that for a religious exemption (in this case the “Church of Body Modification”) to work, it has to be a bona fide religion, not some scam.

  15. This is absolutely criminal. So in order for me to keep my job and feed my children, I need to get injected with an experimental injection that’s supposed to make me immune to a virus that is not particularly harmful to the overwhelming majority, especially for those in my age group? Meanwhile, there is a plethora of evidence (that is being censored) that shows the experimental injection has already caused major health problems and the vax manufacturers themselves admit that they have no clue about long term effects. They also admit that the experimental injection does not prevent me from contracting the mostly harmless virus, nor does it stop me from spreading it. So how does this make any sense? People need to wake up and use logic! It is criminal what Kirby is doing and he needs to be fired!

    1. If it’s “criminal” as you say, please cite the law being violated. Since I’m sure that you are both a scholar of the law as well as medicine, virology, molecular biology, etc.

    2. It’s not “experimental”. It’s been tested and retested, and given to over a billion people.

      You are free to avoid it…just not to be around other people in some environments. You don’t have an absolute right to a job – the company has the right to decide what is best.

      They have the choice of losing you or a bunch of other people who dont want to be around idiots that refuse vaccinations. Guess which they choose?

      And please tell my uncle it’s harmless. Oh, wait you can’t. He’s dead from it.

  16. My bet is 99% of the break room gas bags throwing tantrums about their “freedom” will quietly get vaxxed over the next few weeks.

    Talk is cheap. We’re already seeing a lot of people at my company decide their convictions weren’t worth paying $2400/yr. for. Shocking…

  17. Nothing like a vax thread to bring the petulant toddlers and narcissists out. It’s like catnip for them.

  18. When it’s all said and done, this Covid-chaos (remember, no one is wanting to push for the facts on where it came from or who developed it), it will be shown to have been a multifaceted attempt at huge profits and, to a lesser extent, Government control. My Mom, 88, beat Covid while taking chemo for stage-4 lung cancer….think about that. She didn’t have any other comorbidities and she didn’t take the shot. When any Government feels like it has to bribe and/or cajole citizens into any sort of action, that tells me it doesn’t quite pass the “sniff test”. Unfortunately, too many on this thread sound a lot like the people watching the Jews being led away and paid no attention. I just retired from a 32 year airline career in the nick of time, I suppose. I have a lot of buddies that are not going to take the shot because they just don’t feel like being a guinea pig in an ongoing trial. I’m glad everyone here who took the shot of their own volition feels good about it, I’m glad you had the choice, but, with a 99%+ survival rate otherwise, I’m not going to be in that group. The vaccine offers me nothing more than natural immunity, I like my chances. No virtue-signaling for me.

  19. Of all the vac cines I have taken in my life like Tetanus shots, measles, mumps, polio, meningitis, TB shots, etc…
    Never have I heard so many lies and deceptions over a va ccine that says I have to wear a mask and socially distance even when fully vac cinated, and that I could still contract or spread the virus even after being fully vac cinated.
    Never had to get tested when I was perfectly healthy without any symptoms whatsoever.
    Never been bribed by the establishments to take the vac cine in order to win a holiday and/or cash prizes or earn frequent flyer points.
    I never had to worry about cardiac issues, neurological disorders, blood clots and sadly more! Didn’t even have to worry about death.
    Never was I ever THREATENED by the use of FORCE by the Government, Employers, Police force, and Military for a va ccine as seen overseas.
    I was never judged by my friends or relatives if I didn’t take it. I was never discriminated against for travel or other regular services to a point where I could not buy or sell without it.
    The va ccines I have listed above never told me I was a bad person for not taking them or for even taking them for that matter.
    I have never seen a vac cine that threatened the relationship between my family members and/or close friends to a point of destroying my relationships with them, ever.
    Never have I seen it used for political gain.
    Never seen a va ccine needing 24/7 mass media advertising and promotion on every media outlet known to man.
    Then there’s mixing and matching different vac cine brands and being told it’s okay to do it one day and then told the next day to not do it (overseas).
    I have never seen a va ccine threaten someone’s livelihood, as well as wipe out their jobs.
    I have never seen a vac cine that allows a 12-year-old child’s consent to supersede their parent’s consent (that one alone blows me away).
    Finally, after all the va ccines (jab, shots) I listed above, I have never seen a va ccine like this one that discriminates, divides, and judges a society. So much information is censored, deleted, and removed from the internet and mainstream media!
    So many doctors, health care professionals, police and scientists are censored and forbidden to speak out or ask legitimate questions when what is being allowed or not allowed does not make sense! Particularly when it comes from mainstream media. I have never known a vacc ine that has made all the Pharmaceutical companies that manufacture it exempt from liability if it kills everyone to a point where no life insurance will cover it!
    This is one powerful va ccine, guys! It does all these things above that I have mentioned and yet…It does NOT do the one thing it is supposed to do, which is?

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Cranky Flier