Airline Employees Organizing More Sick Outs To Protest Vaccines

Southwest Airlines had an operational meltdown over the weekend, cancelling over a quarter of its flights. The cause it frequently being attributed to pilot sick outs protesting vaccine mandates, though this hasn’t been confirmed.

The narrative about Southwest, though, could become self-fulfilling at the airline and spread to other carriers. Pilots are watching the operational carnage at Southwest and realizing that they can take down the operation, even if they weren’t doing so already. And employees at other airlines are watching.

American Airlines has a deadline to comply of November 24, or begin termination procedures. This is literally the day before Thanksgiving and peak holiday travel.

In the meantime, the American Airlines intranet is lit up with anti-vax conspiracies and employees encouraging illegal work stoppages. It’s hard to imagine employees,

  • putting this in writing
  • on a company website

Nonetheless, it’s exactly what is happening now. Anti-vax conspiracy theorist Alex Berenson reported an employee hope to mirror Southwest’s operational challenges at American over vaccine mandates but I’ve seen the messages directly.

While employee comments are no longer allowed on most articles, they’re permitted in town halls for follow up questions.

So are we at least going to make one last push?…I made a point to our management, if we were to walk out that day the morning kickoffs would be delayed. Imagine if the unvaccinated group rally together it will send a message that we will not be bullied.

All I could say is we need to hold the line. Several of our team members are going to have a meeting and plan our next course of action.

Rumors abound of older mechanics considering retirement,

We are hearing in Tulsa that the TWU Retirement Counselor is already booked till the end of October. Sounds like a lot of folks are considering the Retirement option.

A 21 year American Airlines pilot, with 27 years in the Air Force, made the case against vaccines as having side effects worse than the virus, which after all has “proven therapeutic solutions” like Hydroxychloroquine, Ivermectin, “Vitamin and Steroids.” Steroids are literally given once the body is attacking itself, this is to suppress the immune system so the body does not kill itself from a cytokine storm.

Covid-19 vaccines are literally incredible. They’re saving incredible numbers of lives. I got vaccinated as soon as I could, and I’m grateful to the scientists that made it possible.

I think it’s reasonable for a company to require employees to be vaccinated, to protect their operation from outbreaks that would inhibit their ability to deliver their product. That’s not what’s going on here – American, Southwest and others responded to pressure from the federal government over their subsidies and contracts. Airlines are one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, so when the President calls they’ll largely jump.

As a passenger whether pilots are vaccinated concerns me little, they’re mostly inside a little room at the front of the plane with the door closed. I’m far more concerned with whether fellow passengers are vaccinated. That’s who I’m congregating with at security, at the gate, and on board. And no U.S. airline is requiring passengers to be vaccinated as a condition of carriage.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Can’t employees be sued or fired for this? Literally cannot believe how stupid people are being over this. They are openly advocating for hurting the company they work for.

    If I were to do that, I would be fired in about 3 seconds. I’m surprised the union hasn’t put anything about not doing that.

  2. Also, given that United has a base in Houston, I’m surprised that this isn’t happening to them. 99% of employees (or something like that) are vaccinated. How come those individuals aren’t mutinying?

  3. Simply put, I do not want to fly with key personnel so irrational in their conspiracy theories that they reject masks and vaccines.

  4. This is sickening. Are we going to run around in blind circles on the virus disaster until the world comes to an end? Has anyone read the statistics about the number of deaths vs the world’s population? I’m sorry they’re dead but the hysteria is mostly made up. Are the bureaucrats and politicians going to keep pushing us around until there’s nothing left in our lives?

  5. One more reason not to fly. A minority of passengers and now crew just make this too dangerous. And one of the ironies is that employers also have an obligation under the ADA to accommodate Covid vulnerable employees. They’re in a no win-situation driven in large part by a relatively small group of ignorant, selfish employees. if they capitulate, they loose customers and employees. If they don’t capitulate, they lose employees and customers.

  6. Aren’t there like 20k Skywest/ regional pilots who would love to move up? Fire the Trumptard dinosaurs and let the next gen up. Theyight have the same beliefs…but I guarantee you getting a 200% pay raise…they’ll get the shot twice

  7. Why can’t Trump rescue these guys and start their own un-vaxxed airline? Did that guy used to have an airline. Same with the hospitals. Why don’t they just all gather together and form un-vaxxed treatment centers?

  8. Gary, I think one point that isn’t being talked about here is the lack of planning on the administration’s behalf. The government does indeed have the weight to lean on get the airlines to comply through various levers. However, when you have “leaders” in place (objective point – what does Pete Buttigeig know about airline, train, or port operations before being elected? Very little) who have no experience or understanding runnung an airline operation you get an outcome that they weren’t expecting.
    Getting to my point: you can’t flip a switch in a complex airline operating environment and expect everything to work immediately. If 1/3 of AA pilots are not vaccinated (side note: you might want to understand why first and that unions don’t respond well to strong arm tactics) and they either are all fired, retire, or quit, the level of operations is immediately unsupportable and that level will not be achieved for months to years. The churn to replenish the vacated pilots’ fleets and seats is daunting and can’t be viewed with such simplistic edicts that tend to come out of Washington. Let’s remember there is already a pilot shortage that the airlines have been having to contend with. So, what happens when AA or SW can’t support their level of Ops? A lot. None of which is good. This lack of planning will cripple the airlines and air transportation for sometime.

  9. If you don’t read much then you don’t know how many previously healthy people have died post vaccine from myocardial events as well as other issues-at least 200000 reported and many other adverse events not reported. You also wouldn’t know that your chances of dying from covid are .1% if you are not a senior citizen and a bit more than 1% if you are. So what is all the vitriol you direct at the unvaccinated? Almost all are vaccinated in Israel yet 78% of the covid patients admitted to hospitals there are vaccinated. You are in a dream world if you think that because you have submitted to receiving the shot you are now immune. Those pilots and airline employees must read and have determined that they are going to make their own decisions about the value of the shot. Good for them.

  10. Every airline has a personality, AA and SWA are very much a “Red State” personality. For instance I remember a SWA pilot boasting that Fox news was always on the crew lounge TV. No judgement, it just is what it is. SWA is also very big on “hiring fellow buddy’s from their past squadrons” especially in PHX. These guys tend to have a frat boy mentality and can convince themselves that their little bubble is correct and everyone else is wrong. They are not always the deepest of thinkers.This is very much about politics and not science.

  11. It is ridiculous that the govt/employers/businesses aren’t actually doing MORE to counter the MISINFORMATION and LIES that are out there! I’m in Alabama and until a couple of weeks ago, the numbers had gotten so bad that we literally were out of hospital beds in nearly every county in the state! Some of these people have it over and over, it is like a bad STD they just keep passing back and forth to the same social circles. I worked at a public health dept in FL when I was young and the ignorance mirrors the behaviors…they know they can get the virus and yet still do nothing to prevent it, don’t care if they get it and pass it on to others. Funny thing is that IF you give someone HIV knowingly in most states, you CAN BE ARRESTED…yet you can have Covid, run around everywhere, not be forced to do anything different, give it to your whole county and suffer no consequences! Yes, they can literally kill their neighbors with no consideration. I’m soooooo sick & tired of Covid and I just want to grab these yahoos by the shoulders, smack them about the head and tell them to wake up and grow up, get the damned shots and lets get this thing GONE ALREADY!!!! Politicians who already have the shots are still out there telling people stupid crap and they believe it. Fox News broadcasters who all had the shot as a condition of returning to work, are still telling folks not to get the shots, so they don’t. They don’t listen to any other networks so they don’t realize that the same people telling them not to get it already have it. (presumably the logic is that the longer the virus drags on the more they can complain about Biden admin) SMH~~

  12. Actually, I do care if the pilot is vaccinated. I view the anti-vax arguments as so absurd that if one accepts them, I question their judgement. Do I trust someone who is that naive to fly an airplane? Nope.

  13. This statement began as a report of employers v employees. Giving the reasons why each group is doing what it is doing is a plus. But giving your opinions is immaterial. If you want to preach about the vax, then address the employees and the employers.

  14. I think it should also be noted that this isn’t a majority of airline pilots, it’s a minority. You don’t hear about the pragmatic wise ones that just do their their job well and are not making a stink. The anti vax conspiracy mongers have always existed and they always find fault with all kinds of traditional thinking. They are the non standard pilots who tend to be the one’s that struggle in simulator and keep Professional Standards committees busy. The industry will be well served if some of them leave. They are the weak links of the profession.

  15. Get vaccinated or get out. 700,000 dead is way too many. At my firm if amateurs are making political decisions to treat a medical crisis I don’t need them. The nation is in trouble because we have tolerated too much twaddle for too long.

  16. I just read a news article that said Starting Friday everybody who has employment MUSt be vaccinated. So unless you are a farmer you gotta get the vaax. Italy has 80% age 12+ fully vaccinated and 85% with at least one dose.

    Biden should step up and end this obstruction by the minority of our population. Have the FAA issue an order, everybody, passengers, and Airline employees must be vaaxed. No exceptions, none of this, religious objection or moral objection or a doctors excuse. Just everybody, no vaax no fly.
    The USA is at 78.6% age 12+ with at least one dose.
    12 and up
    One dose 78%
    Fully vaaxed 66%
    (does not include the 1.2 million ppl who got a 3rd dose before authorized)
    So WE, the vaaxed are in the deep majority, I am sick and tired of these unvaaxed and their objections. Suck it up, World Wide 6.5 BILLION doses have been given. Enough is enough. Get the vaax or get fired, your choice.

  17. IN ITALY= “I just read a news article that said Starting Friday everybody who has employment MUSt be vaccinated. So unless you are a farmer you gotta get the vaax. Italy has 80% age 12+ fully vaccinated and 85% with at least one dose.”

    Sorry I forgot to add that fact in my previous comment.

  18. Fire them all, adjust your schedule and move on. Giving in to terrorists is never wise. When these pilots walk around in society they can literally kill my children by breathing on them. I draw the line on that.
    One dead child because of selfishness is one too many and children are already dying. And can you imagine the scheduling problems deciding what pilots can fly to what countries because they are unvaccinated? This madness has to stop…..

  19. I have a medical condition that prohibits me from getting the vaccine. I got Lyme disease this past June and had to take an antibiotic, which I had an allergic reaction to. I went in to antiflactic shock . I have been in and out of hospitals 8 times since May! After spending 5 days in Cleveland Clinic, it was determined that I should not and cannot take any prescription drugs! Duh…I tried telling that to the doctors beforehand…been this way my entire life! So why should I get vaccinated??? Thank God my husband is a pilot and we can fly our own private plane wherever we need or want to go!

  20. OK Gary, are you only reading the local news and watching the local stations that are all reporting the SAME THING?
    Start by going to the government website VAERS, if you are even able to get to it now, and look at the statistics of the people that are DYING FROM the vaccine! Also, all the other reports besides death FROM the vaccine! Of course a lot of us are afraid of this vaccine. How can you be an American and think it is “ok” for our government official, whom we have hired, to tell us we must take this vaccine even if we are fearful it can kill us?
    Look at the statistics from around the world of vaccinated people dying or having debilitating illness from the vaccine, and now that everyone is getting the vaccine, haven’t you even wondered why the deaths and illnesses are higher this year than last, when we DIDN’T have a vaccine?? I think they are just exercising their constitutional rights, or what USED to be our rights, and until we really have science on this, as of now, at least, we are hearing something other than that we are all going to die if we do get covid. Can’t you even TRY to acknowledge this may not be right for everyone? Also, with the vaccine, you are protected, right?

  21. To all the diehard mandate enthusiasts… Pilots don’t keep planes in the air alone. Mechanics are a huge driver in all this. Many will take early retirement rather than capitulate. Do you think they are easy to replace these days when nobody wants to get their hands dirty? I’m guessing your car mechanic, HVAC tech, electrician, plumber, etc may feel the same.

    It’s probably best you interview them about their vaxx status prior to allowing them to continue to maintain all of your luxuries.

    Here’s an inconvenient truth for you… the blue collar folks you look down on with such disdain and disregard are the ones that make your cushy little lives possible. Fix your own cars, grow your own food, butcher your own meat, protect your own communities, fight your own fires.

    Me? Pro-vaccine. Anti-Trump. But not so dumb as to think that white collar know-it-alls make the world go round. Keep pushing and find out. Or, you know, maybe make some reasonable compromises.

  22. @Sharon you make many insightful observations. Please don’t keep us all in suspense. How many people have died from taking the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines?

    At least give us a clue, is it more or less than 700k?

    It’s a travesty you weren’t given the opportunity to opt out of polio mumps and rubella vaccines.

  23. Southwest is bending to political and cultural pressure from Dems and the elite and now they’re paying the piper. There is NO federal mandate. You really think OSHA has the constitutional authority to mandate federal vaccines? Really?

  24. @Sharon – the vaccine event tracking system is *not* showing people “dying from the vaccine” it is showing people who are dying after having been vaccinated, about 60% of the country has been vaccinated and people die every day, so of course some that have been vaccinated will die.

  25. @Sharon, @Johhny, funny you should ask. VAERS has a total of 8472 deaths reported after vaccinations. This includes all reports by medical professionals, vaccine manufacturers and everyday joes off the street. Without digging much deeper, there is no way to tell if any, none or all of these reported deaths are actually related to the vaccine (or if they actually happened at all). Even if every one of these is absolutely 100% caused by the vaccine (they aren’t), that is 8472 out of approximately 388,700,000 doses given, or 0.00218% chance of dying from the vaccines. In the US, so far, approximately 1.62% of diagnosed COVID cases have resulted in death. That gives you approximately 750 times as much a chance of dying from COVID than dying from the vaccines (even if every kook that reported a death to VAERS is believed). Personally, I am happy to take my (75000% improved) chances with the vaccine.

  26. I will never understand people taking such actions in defense of the right to get sick and die a slow, miserable, pointless death and expose others to the same. They need to be excluded from situations where they’re likely to spread their disease. I think we will be fighting over masks and vaccines for all of my life, my children’s lives and my grandchildren’s lives if we don’t get serious about giving people the choice of getting vaccinated or being excluded from many areas of societal activity, including air travel.

  27. “Covid-19 vaccines are literally incredible. They’re saving incredible numbers of lives..” OK, but many people who got the vaccine are still getting COVID. And some people have died from either vaccine complications or from COVID.

  28. The irony and the vitriol from the vaxed when the head of the CDC came out and said it doesn’t stop you from transmitting the virus or getting it. Someone saying that Fox news is playing on the TV in the pilot lounge means they are not the deepest of thinkers, interesting and how do you know that? How do you know that you are? As a former employee of a major airline all I see from people who received an experimental gene editing drug is ignorance, name calling, fear and the deplorable state of human intelligence, a complete lack understanding and empathy. I wish you luck with the shattered reality coming very soon. I hope the vile words, hatred and fear you put out allow you to see yourelf for who you truly are one day.
    My family is in the medical field highly educated and have more valid analytical and data driven reasons to not take it. The wake up call that many are afraid to contemplate is that many on the medical field will not take this and it’s called science, YOUR ARENTHE EXPERIMENT. When medical professionals work with trial drugs they know how the system is supposed to work safely and this my friends is still the unknown, no true data. During a trial not only are you being experimented on but they can inject you with anything they want, different doses and different ingredients and this is happening. In one year from now and next six years down the road we will see the conclusion from thee xperiment. Now add three more years for a complete picture of what may happen to you. If you sold your soul for fear, to travel, or just trusted someone telling you it was safe and effective dont be shocked at the payback.
    By the way I own a health related business and a third of our older clients are all having some complication from the vaccines.

  29. @Janet Osborne

    The number of people that have died worldwide from vaccine complications is likely less than 100. Compared to 6 million+ recorded COVID deaths (and could be twice as many if you count excess deaths).
    Chances of dying of COVID at young age are low, but death is not the only outcome, many people continue to suffer from “long COVID” ongoing effects.
    It’s a statistical reality that if more and more of the population is vaccinated, a higher percentage of hospitalized patients will have been vaccinated. If there is 100% vaccine coverage, 100% of hospitalized patients will have been vaccinated. In this light the reported statistic from Israel is not surprising. What is true is that vaccination radically reduces your chance of hospitalization in the first place.
    If a pilot wants to quit over a vaccine mandate, they can go ahead. But any other airline they hope to join will likely have vaccination as a requirement of hiring. Not a deadline- straight up, you will not be hired if not already vaccinated.

  30. To all the pro-vaccine / “fire ’em all” people (of which I am one): the other side of the discussion is arguing political dogma. They foam at the mouth and make ad hominem statements. It is pointless to engage them. You are wasting your time. Lastly, Southwest has a rotten rewards program, so bypass any and all discussions about it.

  31. The vaccine bullies are so insufferable. I bet they hang out with their self-righteous loser friends who have nothing better to do than tell other people what to do.

  32. Biden started this. Enjoy the ride libs!
    I recall all you glass housers mocking Spirits technology meltdown 2 months ago. Now you can sit in your terminal for hours watchin their planes pull away from the gate on time.

  33. @Ryan. I completely agree with your post. Me? Pro-vaccine. Pro-Trump. Anti-Biden. Anti-Harris. Let’s go Brandon.

  34. “Hmmm”

    I want to believe you’re being ironic with your comment –

    “ Why can’t Trump rescue these guys and start their own un-vaxxed airline? Did that guy used to have an airline. Same with the hospitals. Why don’t they just all gather together and form un-vaxxed treatment centers?”

    If not, you spiked the football for the other team.

  35. Good thing you can laugh at all this, considering very few on this virologists on this web page it’s your opinion and that’s all it is, YOURs.
    While I totally resent that these shots are being mandated, the only exception I was going to make in getting the vax was if the airlines made it mandatory to board and it appears that mumbling Joe is going to exec order it mandatory soon. I got my first, but seriously doubt the second.
    I went and got tested for the antibodies before the shot, had neither the short or long term. So according to the test I never had been infected, which in my life is pretty amazing since I am around lots of people daily. Never even had any C19 related issues, so explain please. If I did not get it by now why should I be forced to get it?

    Whatever happened to the statement or tested almost clean room air in a plane or atleast certainly cleaner than most other living conditions, making catching the bug not impossible but much harder.
    My main opinion is haters can bring it, while I may get the shot just to be able to fly, I will steadfastly back up those who decide not to.
    The deaths related to COVID are still number 3 on the top killer list in the US, but until there is actual total transparent situations of the deaths are released I firmly believe, COVID related, but not COVID caused are not the number reported.
    I still do not quite understand the airlines decision to give only alcohol to B and 1st, do they think that the upper class cannot get belligerent or combative? I imagine they feel if they keep the peasants, from getting drinks (whom by the way are keeping the airlines afloat, due to the 70% business drop off) we will be okay.
    Enough. Stay healthy, we will get out of this in a few years.

  36. General strike.
    Let’s see how you pro union libtards try to bust up unions because they don’t buy into your propaganda.

  37. It’s time for a reality check.
    Less than 1/4 of one percent of the US population has died from covid and that includes tens of thousands of seniors that were not properly protected from a contagious disease in senior care facilities as well as an unknown number of illegal immigrants that crossed the southern border only to die in the US of covid. When the Secy of DHS says he was surprised at the size of the covid problem on the southern border, it is significant.

    Every person that dies should be cause for concern but the hysteria here that those that refuse the vaccine are sentencing themselves and others to death is simply over the top detachment from reality.

  38. “Incredible vaccines” – you must be kidding. The two mRNA vaccines were rather ineffective to start with so the companies designed two shot protocol to make those more effective. Even then immunity vanes within a few months. Just name another vaccine that would require 2 shots and then booster shots every 6 months.

  39. ‘Just name another vaccine that would require 2 shots and then booster shots every 6 months.’

    The rabies vaccine requires 14 shots over a month, ignoramus. Plenty of others require 2 shots. Flu has booster shots every year.

  40. ‘If you don’t read much then you don’t know how many previously healthy people have died post vaccine from myocardial events as well as other issues-at least 200000 reported and many other adverse events not reported.”

    Well, reading loony conspiracy theory sites is certainly a way to repeat these loony claims

  41. @Alex…I can’t believe he actually wrote that. The only thing “incredible” about these “vaccines”, which you have already pointed out, is their abject failure. For Gary to not know this, demonstrates his complete lack of awareness, or he’s been living in a cave for the past 9 months.

  42. We must trust the “Science.” The science is whatever the Uniparty Media and Government claim it to be. Read the WSJ editorial Oct 12, “Partisan Science in America.”. You must submit to a man made vaccine to protect you from a man made flu. Think for yourself. Covid is not polio. And Fauci is not Jonas Salk.

  43. We will unite the country – I don’t support mask mandates – we will have covid under control in 4 months- the border is closed – the taliban will not overrun Afghanistan- I never talked to my son about his business dealings – our drown strike took out those responsible for 13 service members deaths ( 7 children and their dad ) the list goes on and on about the kool-aid you liberals drank by the gallon. The country is now a dumpster fire and vaccine mandates are adding all the fuel it needs.

  44. ‘Less than 1/4 of one percent of the US population has died from covid’

    700K dead,

    Far more than die of accidents, stroke yearly just about every death cause except heart disease and cancer (and even those are only slightly higher at an annual rate)

    ‘s well as an unknown number of illegal immigrants that crossed the southern border only to die in the US of covid’

    Nutters never stop with loony theories. There have been 9 reported deaths from COVID in ICE camps. Possibly those deaths are under-reported, but that means they aren’t in the 700K death stats !

  45. ‘he only thing “incredible” about these “vaccines”, which you have already pointed out, is their abject failure.’

    Man, the anti-vaxxers are really detached from reality. I suppose one has to be to assume that scientists and doctors worldwide are lying to them and only a few nutcase conspiracy theorists are telling the truth. Most have no idea of what smallpox and polio were like, or how horrible even whooping cough can be

  46. When the hospitals and insurance companies wise up and say “hey no vaccine, no issuance or beds” then things will change. Listen to SCIENCE, not the politicians, regardless of the side you support.

    FACT: Mask limit the spread of the Covid-19
    FACT: Vaccination reduce your chance of getting Covid-19 by 70-90% and the boosters upwards toward 95%
    FACT: Vaccination will reduce your symptoms and your ability to spread Covid-19.

    The ignorance needs to stop. You Trumpers, your man got the vaccines made and tested, Biden cleaned up distribution. We as Americans (left or right, blue, red or purple) need to do our part to protect each other and stop Covid. Screw Trump and Biden, think of your friends and family.

  47. My immediate reaction is to book away from carriers whose (patently irresponsible) employees are throwing tantrums, and towards carriers whose employees are remaining professional. That means United, Alaska and Delta get my business, and Southwest and American don’t.

    I just cancelled two Southwest bookings and moved them to Alaska because I need to get where I’m going, and I’d rather do it on a plane flown by an adult.

  48. I hope Captain Nowhere feels awful when a not-eligible-for-the-vaccine child or someone else who cannot get the vaccine dies from covid. What a shame that these people are so selfish; to not even consider them.

    BTW, my father-in-law is one of these, condemning his own daughter for vaccinating his grandchildren. It’s just shameful.

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