3 Links I Love: Skirting the Mandate, Friends Again, Damn the DOJ, Alitalia is Reborn Again

Links I Love

This Week’s Featured Link

Southwest CEO: When an airline falls behind, it’s hard to catch upCNBC
If I’m understanding this right, Southwest’s CEO is basically telling employees that don’t want to get vaccinated that they should just apply for a medical or religious exemption and *wink, wink*, they’ll be fine. I wonder how the rest of Southwest’s employees feel about that plan. It doesn’t sit well.

Tweet of the Week

This is just so great.

Two for the Road

The Northeast Alliance Continues to Deliver on Consumer Promises as Loyalty Members Get Elite Benefits When Traveling on Either CarrierAA Newsroom
As DOJ fights, American and JetBlue just keep moving on with their business. Reciprocal elite benefits are now happening, though upgrades are not yet a part of that. That’s going to be a really hard one to figure out. And American redemptions on JetBlue flights are coming as well, but if you’re thinking about Mint, it probably won’t be worth those high prices.

New Italian Carrier ITA Acquires Alitalia Brand for EUR90 Mln – Marketwatch
Alitalia is dead. Long live Alitalia! To the surprise of absolutely nobody, ITA will become Alitalia. It has now won the brand in the auction for a lot less than originally expected. I am shocked, shocked I say.

35 comments on “3 Links I Love: Skirting the Mandate, Friends Again, Damn the DOJ, Alitalia is Reborn Again

    1. Neil – Yeah, this is unreal. I still don’t believe it. I feel like they’ll paint the planes and then change their mind so they can paint them again.

  1. How come every body with a blog wants to side with big government and corporate over reach? You asked how this will sit with other employees. Why haven’t you asked how the mandate sits with employees who do not believe they should have to get it or are scared to get it? This is not just a democrat vs republican thing. There are historical and logical reasons for certain employees to question the governments intentions and good will behind the mandates and extreme pressure. It is hard to very any free thinking person to see through all of the lies and arm twisting. It is so frustrating that even from an aviation blog, people have to withstand the pressure to get vaccinated. You are trying to turn this into a employee vs employee thing now. Why do you have such a hard time just letting people decide for themselves? You owe an apology to the people who are just trying to provide for their families. I promise these are not easy decisions and are not being taken lightly for the actual employees on the ground. You on the other hand live in CA and like most people out there you just live in a bubble yet you have the power for some reason to disseminate your opinions across the world. You think you are somehow omniscient and understand every individuals situation better than they do.

    1. Don’t. Just don’t. Brett’s been very clear where he stands on vaccines. If you have read his blog at all over the past year, you’d know that. Also, in the same paragraph where you say it’s not a democrat vs republican thing, you state that Brett lives in a bubble. CA’s far from it.

      In terms of corporate overreach, airlines for years have required employees get vaccinated against yellow fever, malaria, etc. This is no different. Schools have done the same. You have total freedom of choice and can decide. No one is holding you down and injecting you. Should you choose not to get a vaccine, you can always work elsewhere. Those who are so staunchly against getting the vaccine are also the ones who typically espouse the benefits of a free market and market choice. The market has spoken as have the 3B+ who have been vaccinated.

      By the way, Rage Against the Machine’s playing at Coachella… which is also requiring proof of vaccination to enter.

      Regardless, I hope you make the choice that’s best for you and your family and that you suffer no adverse financial consequences from whatever that choice. But just as you are welcome to choose or not choose to get the vaccine, the airlines or your company may choose to employ you or not employ you.

      1. Appreciate you picking up on the irony of RATM. What/Who used to be pushing back against gov and big corporations now toe the line.

        You started by saying, “dont, just dont”. I am perfectly fine with being questioned, but you and most folks now just can’t handle it. Brett runs a great site, but that doesnt mean he might lack some perspective, like all of us. Don’t get offended. Please just listen and try to understand. People who oppose vaccine mandates are not mad at those who choose to get it. You should know that aviation knowledge is a very specific knowledge and doesnt exactly translate to other careers in many cases. For this reason it is particularly insensitive to just say, “go work elsewhere”. Where is the common decency these days? Public schools allow you to get exemptions from certain vaccines. Airlines don’t require the vaccines, certain countries do. There is a certain “area” between holding someone down (physically forcing injection) and telling them to choose between their career or injection; of course I understand that. I dont believe that is a very upright or morally sealed argument. Let’s do better than that. Why isn’t it enough to have natural immunity for instance? That is a completely legit question.

        I think you are wrong saying, “Those who are so staunchly against getting the vaccine are also the ones who typically espouse the benefits of a free market and market choice”. Like I said it is not just a dem vs rep thing. You are not understanding the full history of vaccines and government/big pharma collusion if you think that. Read up on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study if you think that.

        1. While it is always important to understand history (and horrible things have been in the past ans no doubt will be in the future, incl the Tuskegee “study”), that doesn’t mean every vaccine or medication made subsequently anywhere is a racist tool. I’d be surprised if you don’t take or have taken other medication without thinking twice about it.

          If you get Covid, are you going to accept monoclonal antibodies or (once EUA exists) the Merck anti viral? Why would you trust that more than a vaccine that was developed in Europe (Pfizer/BioNTech) for example?

          What exactly is your concern about big pharma and government collusion here? What do you think the vaccine is going to do to you (and me, since I got my 3 shots already)?

          Regarding employees vs. employees, if I was required to work in an environment were I was in close contact for hours with many different other employees, I certainly would want them to be vaccinated to reduce the risk to me.

          1. I dont necessarily think the vaccine is going to harm me. The data is still inconclusive. I do not believe it was built as a racist tool. My point is that some do think that and they have reason to believe it. Especially considering the past and how quickly this was developed and how hard it is being pushed. We as a society should be sensitive to that and not shame people for being worried about it.

            The most important part is that I do not see the scientific reasoning behind needing the vaccine. Sure, it might help some, but obviously not enough because you have 3 shots and are still worried about sitting next to someone who hasnt been vaccinated. You are probably wearing a mask too. It is quite simple. If the vaccines work then continue to get your boosters and wear your mask or stay home if you would like. Protect yourself that is your job. Employers should trust their employees to make their own decisions and not force something that isnt necessary.

            1. Remember, 99% of company policies in this country are driven by liability and fears of litigation. While the company could let employees make their own choices, it opens up the risk that an F/A refuses to get vaccinated, is diagnosed with Covid, some PAX gets it, has to go on long term disability and the airline gets sued. The airlines are trying to mitigate risk (which airlines do literally every day) and also minimize their financial exposure. Maybe the airlines would rather let their employees decide – but I assure the legal departments in these companies have a different opinion.

        2. The thing that keeps me sane is knowing that the abolition parties in the US only got about 2% of the vote, Germany and Austria both voted over 99% for the Anschluss, similar in Soviet elections, similar in the Sudetenland (I personally know a lady whose grandfather was the one that voted against the Nazi Party in a small town in the Sudetenland, and the deep thinking was passed down to her), Crimean vote as well. Is it just coincidence that United touts 99.5% vaccination rate, or is there something deeper in the sinful nature of the human psyche? Thank you for raging against the machine. By the way, I think Coachella just altered its hard vaccine-only policy.

        3. You are free to make the choice to not get vaccinated, but you should not expect society to protect you from the consequences of such a choice. If this means you’re out of a job when you lack transferrable skills, tough. Maybe consider whether this is the hill that is worth dying on, but if you still refuse to get a shot that large swaths of the population have gotten and are fine, then that is what you have chosen for yourself.

          Is this insensitive? What’s insensitive is that passengers and employees are forced to accept the consequences of an employee’s decision to put them in danger of contracting or spreading a virus, or possible future mutants of that virus that emerge, just to accommodate that employee’s wish to escape the consequences of their decision. Why should an airline be forced employ a person who refuses to follow a basic safety measure and by doing so, greatly increases their risk of doing everyday business? Yeah it’s a big corporation. But why should they be forcing their people to accept that risk? You have the right to not get vaccinated. You don’t have the right to force others to bear the costs of your decision, regardless of how hard losing your job would be. No one can stop you from driving drunk. Those choices impose high costs on people who did not consent to bearing those costs, so those who make those choices have to pay the price to offset those costs to society.

          On the subject of government/big pharma collusion: the only vaccine hesitancy we should entertain is that from marginalized communities. The government has burned them before with atrocities such as the Tuskeegee experiments and they have earned the right to be skeptical. However, note that the vaccine has largely been hoarded by rich countries and elites within rich countries, while poor countries not being able to get enough supply. The government should be requiring patent sharing for such an essential good so that it can be produced at larger scale and lower costs but that’s besides the point: why would the rich be hoarding something that is “experimental” if they feel it might be dangerous? As atrocious as this is, wouldn’t big pharma be “testing” it on people who don’t have a voice instead of Bill Gates, celebrities, politicians of all stripes, etc?

          1. Are we really “free” to not get vaccinated? Doesnt seem very free when people can only work certain jobs and can’t go to certain places or certain schools. Slow down just a second and think about what you are saying.

            1. Freedom of choice does not mean freedom from consequences. You are free to choose, you are not being arrested and forcibly injected with anything. But as a society we have a responsibility to care for and try to protect each other, to act for the good of all and not just the individual, and if someone is representing a risk to society then freedom of association can be exercised to exclude that person from risky enviornments

            2. You are free to make your choice. You are not free from the consequences of that choice. You want to have a greater chance of taking up an ICU bed or spread COVID to others, have at it. Don’t expect your employer or the greater society to support that choice.

            3. Much like I have freedom of speech and can walk into a crowded movie theatre and shout “fire.” The problem is the resulting stampede yielding four deaths due to being trampled. That would end in my conviction if there was no fire because my actions had consequences that affected others.

    2. You say “these are not easy decisions,” but actually they’re incredibly easy. The only thing that’s difficult for some people to overcome is realizing that liberals could actually be right about something. Otherwise, the shot is safe, almost 5 billion shots worldwide have been administered, and the world is moving on. Cranky does not “owe an apology” to anybody. The unvaccinated people who are prolonging the pandemic and its negative economic effects because they’re too politically stubborn are the ones that should be begging the rest of the world for forgiveness. Why don’t you start by begging us, now, RageAgainstTheMachine? Your pleas for forgiveness will be welcomed here. Get your shot, deal with it and move on with your life. The liberals are right about the shot and conservatives were wrong, end of story, move on and grow up.

      1. Thank you for moving the conversation forward. You are so helpful when you look at things black and white and demand unquestioned obedience. I am just now realizing my stupidity and carelessness. Why would I even begin to think a conversation would be useful? Next time I will do whatever you, Joe B, Fauci, Hollywood, and the WHO asks of me. I will be the first in line for my daily bread while I scorn those who take some time to weigh their options.

        1. Just get the shot and move on. You’re not a freedom fighter. It’s not the Last Great Stand of Freedom. There is no Honorary Gadsden Flag Award for Anti-Fauci Meme Proliferation. It’s a vaccine, you’re going to get it, you’re going to move on with your life, you’re going to grow up. You’re wrong about your resistance, you’re wrong about your reasons for resisting, and nothing that will ever happen ever in the future will make you right about it. The liberals were right, you were wrong. Just deal with it and save yourself further embarrassment. Your apology for unnecessarily prolonging the pandemic is still anticipated and welcome.

          1. This is comical. “If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!” Pink Floyd would be proud of the national bending of the knee to Big Pharma and Big Government. Oh yeah, let’s catch Dope Sick on Hulu and miss the entire point while were at it.

            1. @APR

              One thing that I have not heard about in the your or others comments so far is a discussion of those who have already had Covid, recovered and now have Covid antibodies. According to the CDC. over 35 million people have already had Covid and recovered.

              And that does not include all the people that may have had Covid but were asymptomatic. If you remember, not knowing if the person next to you had an asymptomatic case led us to many of the restrictions (masks indoors, no visiting with your older relatives, etc.).

              If, as I have read, that having Covid antibodies provides you the same or better protection than the vaccine, a better 1st approach should be to determine the NEED for getting the vaccine in the first place.

              To satisfy you APR, the government could mandate the test FIRST and not the vaccine.

              If you have the antibodies, then you would not need the vaccine and would be exempt.

              That would help in two ways.

              First, it would finally determine to a better extent, the reach of the pandemic in the US.

              Second, the shots could go to people that need it more than someone who has already has Covid.

              Giving a shot to someone that has already had Covid seems to be as useless as giving a chicken pox shot to someone that has already had chicken pox

              It is amazing how everyone has forgotten that before you can fix a problem, you must first measure the extent of the problem!

            2. @Keith

              I don’t know what you’re reading, but what I’m reading indicates that people who had COVID should still get vaccinated, as there have been studies that show people who had COVID before are more likely to get reinfected than someone who is vaccinated, and also people who had COVID then got an mRNA vaccine had very high antibody levels. The only people who were infected but shouldn’t get vaccinated are those who had certain treatments, and that’s just a 90 day waiting period before getting vaccinated.

              https://www.mayoclinic.org/coronavirus-covid-19/vaccine-if-already-had-covid

        2. This isn’t hard. . . you don’t have to work for a company. You don’t have to fly on an airline. You can grow your own food, and live off your own land and never bother a soul. And that is a good thing. Don’t get the vaccine then. Who cares.

          But if you want to engage in commerce and that other party requires certain requirements — such as shoes, shirt, a vaccine, cash, whatever — that is their requirement. Its not your requirement — its their requirement. You have the freedom to walk away from the transaction. They have the freedom to walk away from you.

          If I want to sell you an apple for $1 plus requirement of a vaccine, or $100 without, or not at all, that is my right. Your choice to not get the vaccine doesn’t put you in a protected class or make you special.

          1. Amen. The vaccine is safe, just ask the hundreds of millions of us are vaxxed. Too damned bad if you have to make a choice. But choose science over conspiracy theorists, otherwise you will end up like all the dead people who are profiled at http://www.sorryantivaxer.com.

    3. This “just asking questions” bit is so tedious. Get vaxxed or don’t. That’s the choice you have. And it’s yours alone to make.

      There’s tons of a data out there for you. Stop being a petulant toddler and get on with it.

  2. I’m glad to see Parker and Kirby patch up their personal differences. I’m a big believer in the notion that human relationships are more important than being “right.” While neither United nor American will probably turn a profit this quarter (without federal assistance) the overall trends look to be going in the right direction – and that’s good news for everyone – except those who are rooting for either United or American to be liquidated. It’s interesting to see the different approaches the different carriers are taking in their efforts to figure out what the new normal will be. I don’t think the idea that all carriers should offer precisely the same amenities is appealing (and yes, Tim, I am repeating myself with that observation). And repeating myself again, I still think the primary function of an airline is to provide safe and reliable transportation, not entertainment, food, or hotel accommodations.

    JetBlue and American seem to be confident that DOJ’s lawsuit will be successfully defended or settled (and I’m still guessing it will be the latter) To repeat myself again, all this lawsuit boils down to is that Spirit is after more slots at LaGuardia. And it has some influential politicians and bureaucrats hoodwinked into the phony notion that low-cost carriers automatically reduce airfares across the board. Low-cost carriers aren’t charities. They make a big splash about reducing fares, but ultimately charge what the market will bear. They’d be stupid not to.

    Finally, are you suggesting there’s gambling at Rick’s? What are you going to do if ITA/Alitalia actually gets its act together? What other airlines can you pick on? LOL! I’m guessing there are still a few.

  3. So basically what you are saying that is that the employees who weren’t coerced and took the vax voluntarily – now should turn against those coworkers who haven’t yet taken or do not want to take the vax, and are under federal coercion to do so, and wish that they lose their jobs.

    Medical and religious exemption is a historical fact for any vaccine, period, end of story. Change to a workers conditions of employment, especially for union employees, is a historical fact and a process always taken in good faith by both sides.

    But not here. Take the vax or you are an anti-science bigot and deserve to be fired. Welcome to America 2021.

    1. And let’s all go watch “Dope Sick” on Hulu to be reminded of how much reformation has taken place in the Holy Big Pharma over the past 5 years.

  4. In other news-Alitalia lives! Surprise! Surprise! Cranky-why are you shocked? :) The Alitalia name has more lives than a cat. And who wants to bet in about 3 years they go to the government, say they need money, government says yes, Bloviating Bureaucrats of Brussels hyperventilate-yada, yada, yada. How many times have we seen this story?

  5. I don’t really want to throw another gallon of gas on the fire but the comments above seem to miss the fact that companies, not the federal government, are responsible for validating the vaccination status of their employees and approving accommodations.
    If Southwest believes its way out of this mess is to encourage employees to request accommodations which the company can then approve, that is apparently completely permissible. And it is also likely why Delta is not going to mandate any vaccine.
    We have no way of knowing if the vaccination status of any private company – not the federal government – is accurate.

    The federal government clearly thinks it can not get by with requiring individual Americans to show their vaccine cards to the federal government itself or isn’t about to open the can of worms of asking. Even US air entry requirements are enforced by airlines wiht an ATTESTATION by the traveler, not a direct presentation of the vaccine card to the feds, even though they say they have the right to ask (and they have done some spot checks).

    Those that want to argue about childhood vaccinations to attend school would do well to note that local school districts and states have vaccine records, not the federal government.

    If Southwest or American have to “wink wink” to solve their problem w/ low vaccination status, it is doubtful there is anything the federal government can do about it – as much as it irks some people to no end.

    1. Tim,

      You didn’t throw any gas on the fire. You made some valid points. As a practical matter, the federal government doesn’t have enough employees to enforce its vaccination mandates. It has to rely on employers and “the bully pulpit” (i.e., public opinion) to do so. Employer-employee relationships fall outside the purview of the Constitution. Companies have the right to set employment policies they deem to be in the best interests of the company, as long as they comply with applicable laws. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned is that airlines will tend to fall under federal law because they engage in interstate commerce. If this was the good old days of Southwest, AirCal, or PSA, which operated in only one state, they probably would have fallen under state laws.

      1. thanks.
        We have heard months and months of arguing about the validity of the vaccine by those that believe in it and believe others should get it while others adamantly oppose it. Everyone has staked out their position.
        There has been no shortage of people arguing that the unvaccinated should simply reap the consequences of their decisions but very few have been willing to talk about the consequences if a large number of people choose not to get vaccinated and that may very much be where we are in the USA in multiple companies, governments, and locales.
        None of us really have any idea how many people are determined they will not get vaccinated or share their health information, even a vaccine card, with their employer.
        Multiple vaccine mandates have compliance deadlines within the next few days and weeks – and the Chicago Police Dept. is tonight.
        Nobody quite knows who will blink first but we should all expect there could be significant disruption to every facet of American life as some people – for whatever reason – decide they are not going to provide a vaccine card to their employer.

        There will be consequences from vax mandates. I’m just not sure we know the extent of what they will be on either side.

        It was a given that there would be organizations, government leaders and companies that would not survive the covid era, not because of the disease but because of all of the issues that have surrounded covid.

        I do know that the time to plead one’s case on either side of the vax debate has passed. It’s time to see the consequences.

        I personally believe that Southwest, which was the original topic of this discussion, will, once again, adapt to whatever it takes to survive in the covid world but like alot of things Southwest-related these days, it might not necessarily be pretty or in the form Southwest has been in the past.

        1. The goal isn’t 100% vaccination. That’s realistically impossible. There will be people, for reasons of their own, who can’t or won’t get vaccinated. That doesn’t mean they’re bad people. The idea of vaccination is to be able to control and limit the spread of disease. Based on another exchange I had, smallpox is almost eliminated and polio is close. But there are factors there that have made that possible that aren’t present with Covid.

          1. It is estimated that smallpox killed over 300 million people since 1900. Since December 1979 there has been zero cases of smallpox anywhere in the world. Gee, I wonder how that happened?

            1. Kilmer,

              Tim and I weren’t debating the relative merit of vaccines. We were discussing employer enforcement of government mandates. But I’ll quickly address your point. Smallpox can’t be transmitted to humans by animals. Covid can be. That’s a huge difference in how much effect a vaccine can have.

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Cranky Flier