American Airlines Group Loses A Chicago O’Hare Gate Agent to COVID-19

Last week American Airlines lost a flight attendant to COVID-19. She was in a demographic with greater risk, and reportedly had prior health conditions that complicated her situation. It was really sad to see. Given the number of flight attendants, it’s inevitable that some will get sick from this virus.

Since there are a large number of airline employees (about 1/4th of 1% of all people in the country) a few hundred would be likely to get the virus and some of those might die even without continuing to be exposed to people through their jobs. And we’ve already seen at least 61 TSA agents who have tested positive. It’s especially sad to see when symptoms are severe, and where we lose someone.

That’s ultimately why we’re all social distancing. Although it’s not just to protect people over 70. In fact, American’s wholly-owned regional subsidiary Envoy Air (which, before the US Airways merger was just called “American Eagle”) lost a 51 year old Chicago O’Hare gate agent named José Vázquez.

A spokesperson for Envoy Air shares,

This weekend, we lost a respected member of the Envoy family, who tested positive for COVID-19. José Vázquez joined us as a Passenger Services Agent in 2016 and was based in Chicago. Our hearts go out to José’s loved ones. We are working to ensure they are cared for during this extraordinarily difficult time. He will be missed by our customers and everyone at Envoy who worked with him.

American Airlines Embraer ERJ-175

Just Saturday Envoy Air had shared the information with its Chicago team that “two (2) of our Envoy employees here at ORD tested positive for the Coronavirus (COVID-19).” They were a ramp worker who had most recently worked on March 22, and Mr. Vasquez who most recently worked March 11. The airline said “these employees are getting medical treatment.” The letter, from their O’Hare hub Vice President, encouraged employees to take voluntary leaves of absence.

These stories are both sad and probably inevitable. People working in travel are either customer-facing, or likely in close contact with each other. It’s not possible for rampers to really social distance (including in their cramped indoor facilities). They’re on the front lines, continuing to work but without personal protective equipment – even health care providers are short on these.

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, 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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  1. “That’s ultimately why we’re all social distancing.”

    No, we’re “social distancing” because politicians are evil and people are stupid.

  2. Very sad. When I called AA Cargo to try and send flowers from DTW to the ORD office where José Vázquez worked, AA refused and said because I am not a known shipper, it would take two weeks to set up an account. AAdvantage elite status for over 30 years does not make you a known shipper. However, if I place a flower order from 1-800-FLOWERS through the AAdvantage eshipping portal, I will earn 10 AAdvantage miles per dollar and will not need to wait two weeks.

  3. On behalf of the Vazquez family we thank you Ken A. for your kind gesture with the flowers. God bless you.
    N. Vazquez

  4. They are encouraging them to take voluntary leaves of absence. But they don’t want to pay them or want them to get unemployment. How would th6ry take a leave of absence with no money?

  5. My thoughts and prayers go out to his co-workers, friends, and family. I am so sorry for your loss.

  6. The Ohare companies only think in your pockets. The employees are not safe there. Any companies continue working without masks. And the managers said “dont use them”. Because the passengers think thar you get this virus.

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