United Airlines Declares Pandemic Is Over: Unvaccinated Employees Can Return To Work

United Airlines imposed a strict vaccine requirement for employees ahead of the federal government pushing large employers and government contractors to do so. And they weren’t liberal about encouraging and approving exemptions the way that some other large airlines were.

They fired about 200 people, and went to court to put exempted employees on unpaid leave. United CEO Scott Kirby believes his airline’s vaccine mandate saved employee lives.

So now with tremendous background immunity from both vaccination and prior infection, reported case levels down 95% from peak, and better treatments available, the airline has told employees with vaccine exemptions that they’ll be coming back to work.

The move permits staffers with exemptions from the carrier’s vaccination requirement for its U.S. employees to return from unpaid leave or from the non-customer-facing roles they were allowed to apply for as an alternative to their regular jobs, the people said.

United employees who were terminated, however, will not be welcomed back. Most importantly, however, United’s employees will no longer be required to go up to Ted Cruz to hug him for opposing vaccine mandates.

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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  1. Hey United, if the pandemic is over, then lobby the federal government overlords to dump the silly mask wearing requirements when seated in one of safest breathing air environments in the world.

  2. Well, maybe there’s some hope that we can travel again soon. I’m not interested in wearing a mask on an airplane. I hope that awful FA who hounded me about wearing it up to my eyeballs at Christmas will go find another job so she doesn’t have to work with unvaxed crew members. This was on a flight from Florida, no less, where we hadn’t worn a mask for ten days. Silly cow.

  3. Hey Daryl, safest breathing environments in the world huh. Better than fresh air outdoors, better than hospital clean rooms…

    I’m a building design engineer. I don’t care what they want to tell you about their HEPA filters and air changes on a plane, it also has one of the highest occupancy loads of any built environment out there. It’s definitely NOT one of the safest breathing environments in the world. They have to have good filters and high air changes just to keep it somewhat sanitary. Sure, it’s “safer” than some other indoor environments, but not many.

  4. They’re allowed to come back to work, but they’re not allowed to come back to the United States on the return leg of an international service without going through more testing theater…

  5. Hey Gary, I’d gladly go and hug Ted Cruz as a token of his support for opposing this nonsense, when so many other lawmakers and influential individuals sat silently.

  6. Hey Dwight,
    Add Rand Paul to your list to hug.
    He called out FAUCI for his silly mask theater a year ago.

  7. Don’t forget the stupid nonsensical experimental research on Beagles, then he tried deny it!

  8. Personally… just waiting to see how they are going to staff united airlines after the majority of their staff keels over from the experimental injections that they received.

  9. I’m confused. Latest information shows that 64% of the US population is vaccinated. Of those, only 28% of the US population is double vaccinated. Won’t the United employees be killing the unvaccinated passengers especially if the mask mandates go away?? Last info that I read said that COVID is still here, masks don’t prevent getting or giving COVID and even if vaccinated you can get COVID and spread COVID. Just because the mid-terms are coming doesn’t mean COVID disappeared. Spin that one Gary Lefftest

  10. They conned so many into getting the jab then when said jab doesnt stop anyone from getting, or spreading, the Vid they suddenly declare it a success and pandemic over. Hahaha. Makes perfect sense.

  11. Thanks to the highly effective vaccines, which have saved millions of lives, we do have the prospect now of moving forward. Those who wish to protect themselves have had ample opportunity to do so. Those who choose not to will keep on dying, but now in smaller numbers. ICUs and morgues are no longer being filled to the brim with them. It’s time to remove restrictions and let people make their own decisions.

  12. LOL…entry requirements into the USA are now more restrictive (test must be taken no more than one day before travel) than those into Australia!

  13. We can never go back to the old normal. The new normal is safer. Safety is more important than your freedumb – even Arnold said that!
    We need the masks forever because a new variant could come any time. Plus, it’s just safer. Putin could try chemical warfare too, so masks are a must! Also, I don’t want to be near anyone without at least one mask on (wearing two is better). First, I don’t want them to breath the virus on me and second, ONLY right-wing nutjobs don’t wear a mask. I don’t want to listen to anyone or anything on the right. They actually wear the US flag too – meaning that they are also racist! Plus they are transphobic and homophobic. You can just tell!
    Terrible: no way do I want to be near them. We need masks to protect ourselves from these types.
    So, March 18 will come and go and we MUST continue to wear masks, forever. Plus, the test requirement should be reduced to 12 hours; if you flight is longer, then too bad: turn around and go home! US citizens too.

  14. United declared the pandemic over???

    I, hereby, declare that Ukraine has won the war!
    I, hereby, declare that pancreatic cancer is nothing to worry about as long as you eat bananas!
    I, hereby, declare that inflation is at 0.1%!

  15. Polling shows Democrats will not fare well during the midterms. Quick! Everyone declare the pandemic over! No masking except kids in school and on airplanes. Whew! Safety first!

  16. Wow, and I used to think the other business flyers on my flights were similar to me. I never realized so many were hateful morons sitting around me. @Gary: where did you find your commenters, the bottom of the Trump swamp? I thought @Jackass Waterson was “the” idiot, now I see he has a whole group that are similar.

  17. It’s funny how badly the vaccine failed. And everyone is quietly walking back everything.

    – Vaccines don’t stop spread.
    – Vaccines don’t stop people from dying (look at UK numbers this week! 90% of deaths are vaxxed)
    – Vaccines fade quickly from any short term effect
    – Vaccines reduce people’s ability to deal with new variants.

    – Lockdowns had a net negative impact onthe world, costing more lives than they saved.

    Masks do nothing, that’s been proven.
    And, covid was always highly age stratified.

    Our public health response, was almost exactly the opposite of what it should have been.
    Now the world economy is a mess, and everyone is backpeddaling on all these rules – that didn’t do a thing.

  18. The mRNA vaccines reduce spread – they help people react to the virus quicker and reduce the period of infectious by speeding the rate at which they clear the virus.

    The mRNA vaccines improve infection outcomes, over 90% effective against hospitalization. Nearly everyone dying of Covid is unvaccinated, almost no one that’s boosted dies.

    The vaccines were formulated against the ancestral Wuhan strain of the virus. As the virus has mutated the vaccines no longer are near-certain to prevent infection. That is not failure.

  19. @Karen in the Sky,

    I’m trying to understand the science and the connect as to how masks will help keep us safe from Putin’s chemical warfare?

    Also the current test requirement is to have it taken within 24 hours of the departure time to the US, and your saying the test needs to be taken within 12 hours of arriving in the US? In that case what if a flight is delayed causing the 12 hours to be exceeded or what if the flight does land in time but due to a 2 hour wait in the US immigration line by the time we see an officer it is past the 12 hour threshold? Your suggestion would kill off most travel and make even flights such as London to New York risky!

  20. The vax will ALWAYS be a strain or two behind. Just like the failed flu shots of the past decade which varied between 15-25% effective each year. Similar numbers to the jabs and efficacy against Omi vid strain. Ya’ll reading too much big pharma propoganda. People started waking up and stopped getting the jabs so now they have no choice but to declare it a success and end the requirements….. or face the reality of the truth coming to light. Nah, big pharma cannot let that happen.

  21. United Airlines now welcomes back their unvaccinated employees. But this news means United Airlines employees and their potentially infected travel buddies will be using their free travel benefits to fly non-revenue on any airline while seated next to immunocompromized passengers in both first-class and coach.

  22. “FAKE NEWS” is how my brother who is a United Pilot. They have not been notified to return.

  23. That’s cute. The pandemic is over.

    Over 1,300 deaths per day in the US. Nearly 40,000 cases confirmed per day. Evidence that Covid permanently shrinks people’s brains. Millions living with long Covid symptoms.

    Sure, it’s over. Believe what you want, even though you are wrong.

  24. Gary wrote: “The vaccines were formulated against the ancestral Wuhan strain of the virus. As the virus has mutated the vaccines no longer are near-certain to prevent infection. That is not failure.”

    Hey Gary – if you believe that, do you think employers today should be firing workers that declined an MRNA vaccine? I’m asking b/c it just happened to me and I’m genuinely interested in your thoughts.

    Also, I think you need to educate yourself some more as your skewing the information. I encourage you to spend some time reading Steve K’s substack.

  25. @Karen in the sky

    You say these things in jest, but the reality is that right-wing sympathizers truly are worse people. They are less valuable human beings who endanger the rest of us. I truly believe we would be better off without them.

  26. This comment thread was a blast to read.
    Gary go read all the pfizer documents that were released.

  27. But now the un vaxxed will kill all those who got the jab.

    Why do the protected need to be protected from the unprotected by forcing the unprotected to use the protection that did not protect the protected in the first place?

  28. @Avery Johnson….Not going to happen. Gary is convinced that his data/information sources, i.e the MSM, are infallible and would never lie to him. He is an obvious germophobe who has bought this charade, in its entirety, from the beginning.

  29. Gary Leff is WRONG. I am shocked because he is usually right. He wrote in the comments “Nearly everyone dying of Covid is unvaccinated, almost no one that’s boosted dies.”

    WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Lots of vaccinated and boosted people die but, far, far more unvaccinated die. A booster is a great defense but not a perfect defense against death. About 20% of the deaths are among the fully vaccinated and, figures are incomplete, but about 5% of death (or 25% of the 20%) are boosted. Some healthy people are plain unlucky and die.

    I know of people who were boosted and got Covid. So treat vaccinations like a great home defense, like door locks, but it is not foolproof. Practice safe measures, not act like there is no tomorrow.

  30. “Lots of vaccinated and boosted people die but, far, far more unvaccinated die.”? Really? Someone needs to tell this to those in Britain.

    “Hospitalizations and deaths remain stubbornly high and overwhelmingly occur in vaccinated people. In February, 90 percent of the 1,000 Britons who died each week of Covid were vaccinated.” Alex Berenson

  31. Wow, I’m surprised that Gary posted my comment, but he didn’t respond. C’mon, Gary – I’m genuinely interested in your respond.

    And as for the substack that I mentioned, the author is Steve Kirsch. If you’re having difficulty finding it, don’t use Google. Duck Duck Go or Bing will provide the link near the top of their search results.

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