American Airlines ‘Vacation Day Plus $50’ Incentive For Employees To Vaccinate

American Airlines is offering employees who get vaccinated an extra vacation day and $50 in rewards. Here’s the employee message from CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom about the incentive – something that will become increasingly important as supplies become more abundant and we need to convince vaccine hesitant people to help us stop the pandemic.

A message from Doug and Robert about new vaccine incentive program

In a letter to team members, CEO Doug Parker and President Robert Isom shared details on a new COVID-19 vaccine incentive program and an update on American’s efforts to give team members access to the vaccine.

Fellow team members,

As we close out the first week of March, we remain optimistic that 2021 will be a year of recovery for American. We still don’t know how quickly demand will return, but we know vaccines will be an important part of the recovery. That’s why we are fully engaged in the effort to make vaccinations available to our team as quickly and widely as possible. We strongly encourage all team members to get vaccinated whenever you have the opportunity to do so, and our goal is to make that as easy as possible for you.

We are pleased to share that U.S.-based mainline and wholly owned team members who get the COVID-19 vaccine will receive an extra vacation day in 2022 and $50 in Nonstop Thanks recognition points. Visit Jetnet for an FAQ on the vaccine incentive program.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has made recommendations for how airline workers should be prioritized, the actual distribution of the vaccine is up to the states and local governments, and those guidelines continue to vary greatly. Our Government Affairs, People and Operations teams have been working nonstop in recent weeks to lay the groundwork for us to offer vaccines to our team members in as many locations as possible, but how quickly we can do that will vary based on availability and logistical hurdles. We are thrilled to begin offering the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine to team members at Chicago O’Hare this week. We are working on other locations as well and expect to have more to share soon.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to earn an extra vacation day next year and $50 in recognition points. Get vaccinated as soon as possible – to protect yourself and others. More than 500,000 people in the United States have lost their lives to COVID-19, including some of our own colleagues.

Three vaccines are currently authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration, and all three have proven to be safe and effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The CDC website has a lot of great information on the safety of these vaccines.

Our purpose at American is to care for people on life’s journey. Doing everything we can to make sure our team members have timely access to this lifesaving treatment is a great way to demonstrate that purpose. The vaccine can help build a safer, healthier American, and it’s an important part of the overall recovery from the pandemic.

Thank you for everything you’re doing to take care of our customers and each other during this critical time.

Flight attendants get a vacation day for vaccinating, but of course if they call out sick due to side effects when they’re expected to return to work they get points against them for that (even though they’ll take a contractual sick day).

American, like United, is vaccinating employees at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. They were provided vaccines by the city.

Lobbying for airline worker priority, though, means lower priority for others. That’s the problem with a political process, and fighting over scarce resources. But resources shouldn’t be so scarce.

Detroit’s Mayor refused the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for his city, saying they have no shortage of supplies – which is frankly bizarre when they’re rationing doses based on age. Perhaps Delta Air Lines can pick up the J&J doses meant to go to Detroit for their Detroit hub. After all, the shots have been 100% effective in what we care about which is saving lives. And putting off vaccination means we aren’t breaking as many transmission chains, and that more people are vulnerable. Less vaccination means more people die.

Frankly we should be approving more vaccines. There’s no excuse not to have approved AstraZeneca, yet the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was told not even to expect to meet in March. Their U.S. trial hasn’t read out yet, and the FDA is punishing them for messy trials elsewhere. Perhaps early data was insufficient in terms of effectiveness in older populations, but real world data since then has supported it, and in any case why not make it available to younger populations who haven’t had access to any vaccine in many cases?

AstraZeneca is in use in the UK and Europe, and has been approved in Canada. Are Americans biologically different than Canadians in a meaningful way for vaccine function? Does the FDA believe that the science used in Europe and by our friends to the North is inferior, and if so in what way? Novavax was 89% effective in UK trials but we aren’t likely to see that here until May.

Vaccines are scarce for little good reason, indeed while they were developed quickly and trials proceeded quickly, they should have been available earlier. With the government spending trillions at a time in so-called ‘Covid relief’ contracts should have encouraged scaling production long before approval, so that supplies were ready to go.

Soon enough we’ll go from not enough vaccine to begging people to get vaccinated. That’s likely to happen within a couple of months. Incentives are great, but it seems insane that Congress is actually discussing $1400 direct payments to people, calling it Covid relief, and not using some portion as a reward for helping to actually stop the pandemic.

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. AstraZeneca flubbed the trial and hid it from the FDA (instead telling an investor panel first). Maybe it should be approved but it just smells bad. When vaccine hesitancy is (unfortunately) so high, it’s enough to ensure you don’t have egg on your face.

    Also Gary, I’d add that not only did all the trials stop death, they also stopped hospitalization. Not a single person who received a vaccine in the clinical trials for the three approved vaccines went to the hospital or died.

  2. I’ve long thought that incentives would work. Instead of just sending out $1,400 to everyone, make half of it contingent on getting vaccinated. We need out of this nightmare, and putting COVID behind us would be a much better stimulus to the economy than anything else. Kudos to AA for its action here. Any business that wants to build customer confidence and get the country alive again should do the same.

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