Second U.S. Airline Requires All Employees To Be Vaccinated

United Airlines announced today that all employees would have to get vaccinated starting in late October.

Now Frontier Airlines announced that all of its employees must be fully vaccinated by October 1. Only not all Frontier employees will actually need to be vaccinated.

“As we continue to watch the rapid increase of new COVID-19 cases across the United States caused by the Delta variant, I am concerned for the well-being of our team members, their families and friends,” said Barry Biffle, president and CEO, Frontier Airlines. “Safety is of the utmost importance at Frontier and we need to take every step possible for us to keep our teams safe, protect the operation and protect our passengers. The time has come to do what we can to help put an end to COVID-19.”

As with all such policies, the consequence for non-compliance matters a great deal. Frontier isn’t firing employees who do not get vaccinated, but instead the airline will insist on regular Covid-19 testing for unvaccinated employees and plans to work with its unions on the testing regimen.

This lets Frontier say all employees are required to be vaccinated while avoiding contractual issues with its unions, but it means that not all employees will be vaccinated. I’m not sure how much it matters to customers when there’s no requirement that the person in the middle seat next to you, or crowding you at the gate, has been vaccinated.

Delta says new employees only must be vaccinated, while American doesn’t plan to require vaccination (though American CEO Doug Parker has said that competitive pressure could require them to change their position).

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. I commend Frontier for providing a testing option for those that do not want to get vaccinated.

    They are devising a better plan than United.

  2. United can do what it does because its major corporate HQ is in blue state Chicago and it has its main crew and maintenance bases in blue SFO, EWR, ORD, IAD, LAX.

    AA, SWA and DAL have corporate HQs in red states and major crew/maintenance bases in red/purple states.

    Frontier has corporate HQ in blue leaning but not yet solid blue DEN and crew/maintenance bases split pretty evenly between red/blue states.

    Airlines dont want mass exodus or firings of employees. I think what United does works for them given 90% pilot vaccine rate. But with AA at 60% for pilots it might not work so well. The risk of losing 40% of pilots is much different than 10% if the threat doesnt do what its intended.

  3. @Wesley — a real sad statement that living without the threat of a debilitating disease (if not outright death) and access to hospital has been politicized, but you’re probably right.

    However, there’s the business imperative that unvaccinated employees costs far more — they take more sick days, may never return to the job (if they die) or when they do are less productive (if they have long term consequences), and ramp up monstrous hospital bills that health care management companies pass on to the business to pay in the form of higher premiums. So yeah, a fully vaccinated workforce makes very sound business sense, and not just because it’s the humane thing to do.

    One thing I’m expecting soon is differentiated health insurance rates based on vaccination status. Smoking is a choice, and if you smoke you pay more on life insurance. Similarly, if you don’t get vaccinated by choice, it’s only fair that you shoulder the costs of your “choice” and that those who are vaccinated aren’t forced to pay higher premiums to cover the extra costs you cause. Take a look at Florida hospitalization rates for an example of what happens to the unvaccinated and how much they’re costing all of us.

  4. What ever happened to “my body my choice”??
    The government or a company should not be able to force someone

  5. Good job United! Keep it up.

    @Jojo – United is a private company. They can run their business as they see fit. Isn’t that the Republican mantra? Hahaha.

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