Unvaccinated American Airlines Employees Won’t Be Required To Test For Covid-19

Starting January 17, unvaccinated American Airlines employees – whether they have an approved vaccine exemption or not – will face new protocols.

  • “Complete a weekly self-health declaration”
  • “Practice social distancing when possible”
  • “Wear a mask at all times, except when outside and social distancing can be maintained”

For unvaccinated employees working in offices it’s effectively a masking requirement. For unvaccinated employees who work in airports and on planes this amounts to completing a ‘well for work’ survey once a week. They currently have to mask under federal rules anyway (though pilots do not have to do so while in the cockpit, and that won’t change).

Notably absent from this is any requirement for weekly Covid-19 testing. A spokesperson for American Airlines confirms to me, “No testing requirement at this time.”

Federal contractors – which the airline has said that it considers itself – are supposed to have all workers fully vaccinated by January 18th. That requirement from the Biden administration faces several court challenges.

There’s currently an injunction against the mandate that’s been upheld in the 6th circuit and a case before the 11th circuit after a judge in Georgia blocked the mandate.

The federal contractor mandate generally seemed to be on stronger legal footing than several other vaccine mandates, including the OSHA employer mandate being challenged at the Supreme Court today. That one – which would also cover American Airlines – requires unvaccinated workers to test negative for Covid-19 each week before coming in to work.

At some level these guidelines pay lip service to there being a distinction between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees while betting on the pandemic phase of Covid-19 being over in a matter of weeks as Omicron courses through the population.

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 »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Since vaccinated people are getting/spreading Covid faster than unvaccinated – I think we should focus our efforts on isolating the vaccinated.

    We need to test and lock them up aggressively. We can’t have those crazy people hurting the world anymore.

    I say, if vaccinated, and you test positive, you should be sent to jail for 14 days.
    Just keep it simple.

    They are the enemy now.

  2. I think if we just lock up anyone whose first name starts with ‘Don’ we should be good.

  3. Could it be that employers are finally using common sense now instead of having knee-jerk reactions to an unproven “vaccine”? Unpossible!

    Here’s hoping the above is the start of a new trend. Im tired of living in a country that always assumes that everyone believes what the government tells them.

    America will be great again once Fauci is put on trial for his lies… and his lockdowns

  4. @Don – there is not just zero evidence that supports your first statement, the evidence actually shows the opposite. University of Copenhagen study released last week shows that vaccinated people are less likely to transmit it. The study that likely has you confused is one that shows of those vaccinated+boosted who do get infected, the percentage with Omicron is higher than those unvaccinated. It sounds ominous until you see the study I reference (I think posting a link will get this blocked, so search for university of copenhagen omicron study to find it) shows that there is still immunity from Omicron, just much less and those vaccinated that get it still have both reduced spread and a lower chance of ending up in the hospital from Covid.

    The rest of your comment sounds like exasperation that all of the fear mongering about vaccines is nothing but BS and there is no empirical evidence that shows anything except the vaccines being a massive success at preventing hospitalization/death.

  5. Given that the US Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on 2 Biden Administration vaccine mandates in response to multiple federal court rulings blocking them, AA’s policy seems to find the commendable thin line between corporate responsibility and personal health care choice as has been established by US laws – and perhaps subject to revision based on what the Supremes have to say.

  6. If everyone shot themselves in the head and died then nobody would die of corona ever again. This is the way forward.

  7. Simple response. I will not be flying on American until they change their policies.

  8. Robert,
    you might note that United made a big deal about having a vax mandate and then cancelled hundreds of flights during the holiday period because, as they said, staffing shortages due to employees testing covid positive.

    The narrative that vaccines would stop the transmission of covid ended when the group of Texas legislators chartered a plane to go to Washington DC, did not mask on that flight, and then a number of them tested positive after meeting w/ a number of US legislators.

  9. @Ben, don’t waste your time using “reason” and “reality”. Let the unvaccinated believe whatever they want to.

    They’ll earn their Herman Cain awards soon enough, and the rest of us can go on with the rest of our long lives.

  10. I move that we suspend all comments on this article until Amazing Larry has had an opportunity to share his thoughts.

  11. There is a lot of this anti-vax non-science freedumb nonsense on LinkedIn these days. At this point the science is pretty much irrefutable but surely we can’t expect Trumpers to understand or accept it. Of course, the remotest of possibilities is that many years from now, something will turn up that suggests the COVID vaccines had issues but by then most of the anti-vaxxers will be dead from COVID or its offspring. Read the news. Unfortunately, the death rate for anti-vaxxers also raises the risks for everyone else.

  12. This is all Trump’s fault, he created a vaccine in less than 1 year and told everyone that it would save the world and it was his best accomplishment to combat the Virus, now we have learned that the vaccine does not work and we blame Fauci and Bidden. Why is Trump not responsible for the vaccine not working and for a large # of his followers refusing to take the vaccine he developed?

  13. Sounds fair. Realistically, being vaccinated or unvaccinated seems to do nothing to stop people from getting Covid or omicron. 80% of the people hospitalized in the last 2 weeks for Covid or a Covid variant have been vaccinated twice plus some have had a booster. People who have been vaccinated and test negative nasally for Covid are found to test positive with a throat swab. 80% of people who have Covid don’t even know it because of no symptoms. We have tennis players who have tested positive 4 different times over 2 years despite being in perfect shape.

    I’m not vaccinated. I wear a KN95 at all times outside my home. I’ve taken the bus and metro north regularly and have been to Saks (for the credit) and Macy’s. I’ve been to Times Square. Of course I haven’t gotten sick.

    Self reporting with masks for flight attendants is fine. I would fly with American.

  14. Jackson, where do you get the stat about 80% of people hospitalized in the last 2 weeks for COVID being vaccinated? In my local area of Texas, the latest report from yesterday showed that 90% of all those hospitalized with COVID are unvaccinated.

  15. But but but SCIENCE! Muh vaccine! The god of science himself said that the vaccine is a dead end for Covid….. wait…. no he said that it will minimize your sickness when you get it….wait…

  16. @Carlos
    The last I read is the vast majority of unvaccinated inhabit the inner cities of America and enjoy the free everything system, definitely not Trump supporters.
    Facts don’t care about your feelings.

  17. Several Supreme Court justices – potentially the majority – indicated they have concerns about the legality of vaccine mandates and some analysts seem to think the greater concern and the most vulnerable of the two mandates is the large employer mandate (vs. the health care provider rule which is also part of the hearings).
    Justice Sotomayor stated during the hearings that there are 100k children in US hospitals due to covid, many of which are on ventilators – which was quickly noted to be vastly overstated and inaccurate.

  18. Long past time to get serious about vaccine requirements for people needing to interact with the public or close to co-workers. If their job can be done fully remotely OK. How long must we humor the “I have the right to spread disease and death if I want to” crowd before we stand up to them? There is no constitutional right to pack the ICUs and the morgues so that there’s no room for sensible people. Most of my colleagues are saying hospitals should give palliative care only to the unvaccinated. They don’t care to save their own lives, why should we try? I’m not quite there yet, but I’m tired of this nonsense.

  19. Okay, how about AA giving us a choice? Let us know which flights have crew that are vaccinated and those that don’t. It will make it clear which side wins.

  20. What American is doing is illegal. It is a gross violation of Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act. Forcing weekly wellness reports is discrimination under segregation. It is nothing but corporate tyranny and illegal measures!

  21. Hopefully Darwinism will take care of all the mouth-breathing, anti-vaxxing, racist, misinformation spreaders soon enough…though sadly traffic to Gary’s blog will decline ~25% in tandem

  22. Even if 100% of the world was vaccinated and boosted, covid will still spread and people still die. Im not sure what liberals hope to gain with their zero covid strategy? Covid is never going away. Im truly surprised and amazed that people are so eager to vaccinate 4 times every year for the rest of their lives and wear masks all the time for the rest of their lives as well. Literally theres no metric to ever ending any covid measure. Covid cannot ever be eradicated so theres no end to covid measures if zero covid remains your goal. It seems to me that liberals dont know what the hell they are doing with covid. They simply want compliance with their dictates.

  23. NY State has now said that 50% of people that were classified as covid patients were actually admitted for non-covid symptoms but tested positive for covid.
    The US’ entire covid statistics have likely been inflated.

  24. @Wesley, since when is there liberal healthcare vs conservative healthcare? Do you ask you Dr if who he voted for to decide if you want to be treated by him? Do you suggest we have conservative and liberal wings at hospitals?
    It was a right wing president that spent billions to develop the vaccine.

  25. RINOs like Trump, along with the Obummers, all want you to believe–truly BELIEVE–in the vaccine. Anyone with any sense at all can see that they simply getting you ready for the next phase of their plan–and it won’t be about vaccines. First they start with our precious bodily fluids, but next it will be true mind control. Don’t believe it? You will soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *