Biden Administration: All Airline Employees Must Be Vaccinated, No Testing Alternative

Several airlines have notified employees that the federal government will require to be vaccinated with no alternative for regular tests instead. That’s because the Biden administration has decided to treat airlines as federal contractors, and subject to their order that government contractors must have 100% vaccination among employees, rather than companies with 200+ employees under a pending OSHA rule.

Here’s the American Airlines note to employees;

The message is that since American Airlines – like other U.S. airlines – is a government-subsidized carrier, the government can impose employment policies.

American has cargo contracts with the government, takes subsidies for specific routes, and takes revenue from the Civil Reserve Air Fleet program (in exchange for providing planes for flights about once a decade).

This is going to be a problem for American, with over 4000 unvaccinated pilots. Some will get vaccinated. Others might take an early retirement. American is already short on pilots.

One American Airlines pilot really did have a point in a recent employee meeting that federal rules don’t account for the science on prior infection. Someone who previously had Covid-19 and gets a single shot of an mRNA vaccine is better protected than someone that’s double-vaccinated. (That pilot could, of course, go get Johnson & Johnson if he wanted to…)

Ultimately American Airlines probably didn’t do enough earlier, offering a day off and $50 in “Nonstop THanks” credits (airline scrip). In contrast United with its “take a jab or you’re fired” approach and Delta’s “health insurance surcharge for the unvaccinated” led to higher vaccination rates among employees already – making them less vulnerable to this change in rules by the federal government.

It’s expected that employees will have to be vaccinated by December 8th – before the holidays. I wouldn’t expect that date to be pushed back yet but if there’s not substantial compliance then expect it to be pushed back at the last minute because the Biden administration doesn’t want to be blamed for ruining Christmas travel.

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. Vaccine mandates are going to cause more travel disruptions and overwhelmed healthcare systems than covid did.

  2. It’s very simple. With the exception of the genuine medical cases the insurance companies can just say they won’t cover anybody for Covid who isn’t vaccinated, at least beyond the minimum required by law. Refuse your shots, get sick, and the bills are all yours. Extend the same policy to things like home and auto insurance and it will be amazing how fast people start getting their shots. After all, why should these companies (and the rest of us) pay for people who won’t take care of themselves?

  3. @ Doug — How exactly will people getting vaccinated overwhelm the healthcare system?

    @ Gary — I now know which airline to avoid this winter. It sounds like AA may very well face an operational meltdown. Too bad for the incompetent AA management and pilots.

  4. @Gene – NY is currently sending National Guard medical staff into hospitals because they fired so many unvaccinated nurses and other staff.

    @drrichard – Eat too much fast food? Pay for your own heart cath. Sleep around? Pay for your own HIV treatment. Smoke? Pay for your own lung cancer surgery. Drink coke every day and refuse to exercise? That insulin is on your dime. Do you see how this doesn’t work and isn’t applied to anything else? I’m a big fan of vaccines but this war on people who aren’t vaccinated is illogical and toxic to our society.

  5. @ Doug — That is unfortunate, but still the right decision. I cannot imagine being in the hospital and having an unvaccinated nurse. I applaud the healthcare syatems that pushed these people out. In the long-run, these are not the people who should be serving as our nurses.

  6. This is actual facism, not the crap you lefties were crying about when Trump was in office.

  7. People like @Gene support their own countrymen being fired and denied medical care while supporting illegal aliens not needing to get the vaccine while and supporting them getting free healthcare and welfare for life.

    We live in a country where non citizens are treated better than citizens.

  8. @Gary or anybody who knows:
    How much revenue do those government contracts bring in for AA (City Pair, Civil Reserve Fleet, DoD cargo). Is it worth losing 4,000 pilots to keep those contracts? Could they even ditch the contracts if they wanted to?

  9. @ Wesley — How did you extrapolate the fact that I favor vaccine mandates into me supporting “illegal aliens not needing to get the vaccine while and supporting them getting free healthcare and welfare for life?” That is complete nonsense. Turn off the FoxNews and think for yourself.

  10. There are people who thought gays who has unprotected sex and got HIV deserve mockery instead of treatment. We used to call these people hateful bigots, and most of them seem to have died out. Too bad they never got to see their philosophy adopted by the Covid Karens.

  11. If anyone thinks I’m flying AA, they’re crazy. They’ve dropped the ball on flight cancellations and Covid.

  12. Statistically a person is more likely to die in a car crash during their life than they are to die from COVID *IF* you get COVID and are unvaccinated and it was still in the beginning of the pandemic when it wasn’t known how to mitigate this disease.

    It’s unfortunate that the USA has become more of an authoritarian state than North Korea this year. It’s unreal what is happening in nearly every part of society.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the Biden Regime starts sending the unvaccinated and Republicans to death camps in the near future. I know some of the readers would love that.

  13. Much ado about nothing – as we have seen at United, most people won’t be throwing their job away over this.

  14. What is the stated reason that prior infections are not considered? Those people could get an antibody test in lieu. I haven’t heard any official answer.

    There’s another aspect of this I never hear mentioned. Pharma was given protection against lawsuits, unlike other vaccines and medicines. That made sense at the time, but if we mandate vaccination that legal protection must end.

  15. @Nun

    Prior infections aren’t considered because the data with respect to sustained antibody production post-infection are highly variable.

    And to your comment about “protection against lawsuits,” why should vaccine injury compensation for COVID vaccines be any different than that for every other vaccine? I assume you’ve had nearly all of those vaccines, unless you didn’t participate in public education in the US, or you have an underlying condition which makes all vaccines impossible to receive (hint: there aren’t any medical indications that constitute a contraindication to all vaccines).

  16. This just in Parker caught flat-footed while Delta and United were ahead of the curve.

    AA = slow motion train wreck.

  17. @Doug: your argument would make sense but those abuses you describe only harm the user (slight exception to second hand smoke but that isn’t huge) and Covid isn’t restricted to only the anti-vaxxer. So I completely agree with @drrichard. The insurance companies have already stated they will not cover much of the expense related to hospitalization for Covid patients, now they should just drop people without vaccination. Once the government gets past supporting any of those people, we will be in a better place. They are already costing us more and more as they get sick. Now there are vaccines and medicines to help mitigate the expense related to this, so these people need to get vaccinated or suffer the consequences on their own.

  18. Gotta love the snowflakes like Doug. They don’t realise that the more the virus reproduces higher the chances of more variants.
    Of course Doug and his fellow antivax loonies will then claim that the vaccine causes variants. After all science makes them disregard their own beliefs and snowflakes like that melt down fast under those circumstances
    What’s funnier is they listen to clowns like Trump and Tucker Carlson who are vaccinated themselves but spew anti vax shit

  19. @Ray The insurance companies aren’t saying they won’t cover most of the expenses of hospitalization of the unvaccinated. What they have said is that they won’t waive deductibles/co-pays.

    I’m OK with that, but while I’m as pro-vax as they come, I’m deeply against denying insurance coverage generally for people who refuse to get vaccinated. That’s a slippery slope that none of us wants to step on.

  20. @747always
    “They don’t realise that the more the virus reproduces higher the chances of more variants.”

    Maybe you don’t realize that this virus is endemic, will continue to reproduce regardless of who gets vaccinated (they aren’t sterilizing vaccines and animals host the virus), and like the other ~200 known respiratory viruses will tend to mutate into something more transmissable and less lethal. Has nothing to do with “higher chances” of variants. Those will happen bo matter what.

  21. – Such a bold move from the Biden administration would end the pandemic once and for all. Why did they think about this sooner? Unvaccinated pilots in closed cockpits are the ones who are spreading the virus!
    Now I am impatiently awaiting for Doug P. and AA requiring all AAdvantage members provide vaccination proof or facing termination and closure of their AAdvantage accounts.

  22. Sure. Right after we start testing for dementia. President Potato Head in the White House is much more dangerous than any pandemic.

  23. @david said ‘President Potato Head in the White House is more dangerous than the pandemic’.

    Just for clarity, he’s referring to the previous occupant.

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