Will You Choose An Airline Based On Whether They Require Employees To Be Vaccinated?

United Airlines is requiring employees to be vaccinated. Frontier is, sort of – employees can opt out and submit to regular Covid tests.

Delta, on the other hand, will only require new employees to be vaccinated. Perhaps they don’t want to push their largely non-union workforce into unionization. If a quarter of flight attendants, for instance, didn’t want to get vaccinated they could be a big enough block that swings towards unionization (not that Sara Nelson’s union is preventing mandatory vaccination at United).

American and Southwest say they aren’t going to require vaccination. Although earlier in the year American’s CEO Doug Parker said they could be forced to make vaccination mandatory for competitive reasons: “if other airlines wanted to market themselves as the one where everybody’s vaccinated, those are things we’d have to respond to.”

That leads to the question, will customers actually choose an airline based on vaccinated employees?

A majority of employees are going to be vaccinated anyway. But does the assurance make you feel confident as a traveler? I want to see front line personnel vaccinated, but I’m not sure how much it actually matters to my risk as a traveler.

  • Other passengers at the gate and on my flight far outnumber employees
  • No U.S. airline is requiring vaccination of passengers
  • If the person in the middle seat next to me isn’t vaccinated, but the pilot is, does that help me much?

And foreign employees based in locations where, for instance, Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine is in heavy use will probably get to have that ‘count’.

Just a couple of weeks ago airline CEOs were talking up the end of the mask mandate on September 13th, but at this point it seems unlikely the mandate will be allowed to expire. Do masks make you comfortable flying, such that you worry less about vaccination of employees?

My guess is that people choose to fly based on schedule and price and on operational reliability, and that it’ll be a limited number of people at the margin who choose based on a vaccine mandate. Even product seems as much of a determining factor.

I’d prefer a non-stop flight that operates on time over a connecting flight where vaccination is required. A connecting flight means more time in the airport with other passengers, perhaps with other airline employees, in an environment with HEPA air filtration or the same downward air flow that makes the aircraft cabin relatively protective.

Although it would be nice to know that everyone I’m around on an indoor environment has some protection via vaccination or prior infection.

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. @drrichard – what George Washington did was something far more extreme – variolation – since there was no smallpox vaccine yet. it was controlled exposure to low doses of infection, in order to build immunity and prevent regiments from being taken out of service on the battlefield. There was even a predictable mortality rate to this approach. But battlefield strategy prioritizes winning wars, which means both ensuring soldiers aren’t taken out of action by sickness where possible and more importantly that outbreaks don’t occur while fighting. So vaccination has long been required in the military.

  2. Yes. The only way the world is going to get out of the pandemic — without massive additional illness/death — is mandatory universal vaccination (and mandatory masking until that happens).

    Think back to the 1950s — almost nobody evaded the Polio vaccine. And guess what….Polio is gone.

  3. Absolutely not! I am fully vaccinated and could care less if other adults are or are not. I am not responsible for their action or lack of action and vice versa. I am much more interested in an airlines service and cleanliness of the air craft.

  4. About 30-days ago I received an email survey from United asking about this very topic, along with other COVID-19 related protective measures the airline had already implemented, considering implementing or other actions not yet evaluated. I did rate employee vaccination high in my survey. I do not know if this survey supported United’s ultimate decision. For me, I thought of a flight attendant leaning over my seat to provide food and beverage to passengers (or to me for that matter); mask popping-open or slipping down as they reach over the seat (I’ve seen it many times as a result of awkward positions). On my last flight from ATH to IAD in Business, I interacted with the flight crew a couple dozen times. While I am vaccinated, I realize I can still get COVID, albeit less severe. It’s nice to know the employees interacting with me are (will be) vaccinated, which reduces my chances. I kind of equate it to the feeling you get when you are in the bathroom and someone walks out not washing their hands.

  5. After hearing on a medical podcast on how a guy went to a Dr, slipped the person administering the vaccine a $100, and walking out with a genuine vaccination certificate, no matter how much I think it’s worth, too many people will circumvent the practice to make me trust it. That’s on top of the number of people already getting caught with fake certificates too, I don’t think you can trust it even if they did require it.

    As much as I would like to say it would make a difference, in my heart, there are so many self-centered people that really only give a crap about themselves.

  6. Lots of great comments on this thread, pro and con.

    Personally I don’t view this as a potlitical issue. For me, choosing a carrier is a health decision and a desire to make flying as comfortable and stress free as possible

    My strong impression is that many anti-maskers and COVID deniers are easily agitated on this topic and generally prone to being disruptive and disobediant. So I think that most of them will avoid using the airlines that require their staff to be vaccinated.

    So given my personal preferences, I know which airlines will get my business. . To each their own.

  7. More importantly everyone needs to demand why the FAA was so hasty to approve the vaccine (other than the obvious political reasons). When the agency charged with ensuring the safety of the traveling public starts making political decisions rather than safety decisions , turn out the lights & lock the doors!

  8. @Dwight Albers – on the contrary approval appears to have been delayed – by Pfizer’s slow release of data – to avoid helping Trump win re-election

  9. I will seek flights in the future with airlines that make vaccination mandatory. Sorry, I want the chances of infection to be as low as possible. I have worn an N95 mask on my last 2 trips. I was fine with it. Everything now in America, is politicized. The stupidity of not getting vaccinated is going to keep Covid with us forever!

  10. Absolutely NOT. If you think the shots protect you . . . Check the cruise ships.
    Covid will be here for a long, long time. A virus cannot be elimanated when animals act as reservoirs. Leave your comfort animal “safely” at home.

  11. YES!!YES!! YES!! Throw exceptionalism out the window. Public health is the issue here, and my rights are as important as the naysayer anti-vaxxers. These guys are no different from murderers,.

  12. Let’s be clear about One Trippe’s (have to say I like that name) comment….there is no guaranty the vaccination will protect you completely, no one ever said that. BUT….it’s highly likely to and even if you are a rare break through case your chances of being hospitalized are very very low and your chances of dying tiny.
    Doesn’t it at least make you wonder as to how crazy the anti vax argument generally is and the reasoning for the vax by highly educated and experienced experts comes across as very solid? By and large all you seem to get from the anti vax crowd is people trying to counter the facts with crazy ideas or outright lies.
    The anti vax folks do have Q anon and the Chem trails believers on their side though.
    As P T Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute” and the conspiracy folks sure take advantage of that.

  13. Yes. I’m fully vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get the virus and can’t have long term effects from the virus. With the Delta variant at 200%+ more transmissible, with infectiousness equal to, or greater than chicken pox, we need mandatory vaccination and mandatory masking in indoor publicly accessed places until then.

    Yes, I’ll take a vaccinated crewed/pax flight over a non-vaccinated one to the extent possible.

  14. @Gary Leff:: “to avoid helping Trump win re-election” there is proof of this? Please share. If that was the reason, it all came out the day after Biden took office? And how would proof help Trump, remember the fat pig said the virus was nothing to worry about, we would be past it soon, you could inject disinfectants and shove strong lights up our arses. If anything, they would have held it until he was out of office so some serious people could look at the data.

  15. Perhaps it is only because I’m old . . . does anyone else remember something called the International Certificate of Vaccination? It was yellow and a little bit bigger than a passport.

    There was a time when international travel REQUIRED the production of this certificate showing a tuberculosis negative test, as well as vaccinations for small pox, typhoid, etc. Depending on specifics, one might also need yellow fever, etc. One would not be admitted through Customs without it.

    Whether we are talking international or domestic travel, it is not as if COVID is the first time a vaccination has been required. Let no one believe that it is. When TB tests were required, no one questioned the requirement for such tests. Schools even required them. Why? Up until the late 1940s, TB had killed one in every seven humans born — including my grandfather.

    Personally, I believe that each person may choose to take or not take the COVID vaccine. However, it is lawfully within the powers of the Federal government to impose health mandates involving any international travel and any inter-state COMMERCIAL travel. (Driving one’s own car is a different story.)

    As a prior comment noted, this is not and should not be a political issue — it is a public health policy issue. In years past, we would not be having this dialogue and no one would have thought twice about it.

  16. @Ray claims — ” ‘to avoid helping Trump win re-election’ there is proof of this? Please share. If that was the reason, it all came out the day after Biden took office? ”

    Read this report and especially note its publication date —


    @Ray further claims — “… remember the fat pig said the virus was nothing to worry about, we would be past it soon, you could inject disinfectants and shove strong lights up our arses.”

    This is merely regurgitating back those desperate, but long debunked, lies about what Trump actually said, and the manners in which he said them. When Trump makes a rhetorical joke about disinfectants, Trump haters will instantly explode that joke as if he were being serious, and try to make him look insane. As for those “strong lights,” it will be beneficial to educate oneself about the efficacy of UV-C lights upon SARS-CoV-2, as such “strong lights” have been successfully used worldwide to commercially disinfect surfaces in various environments (eg, onboard airliners, cruise ships, hospitals, etc)!
    @Reno Joe says — “As a prior comment noted, this is not and should not be a political issue — it is a public health policy issue. In years past, we would not be having this dialogue and no one would have thought twice about it.”

    While vaccination issues should never be political, it has, nevertheless, become political football to both sides for respective leveraging purposes … and most often not based on scientific facts!

    Legacy vaccines from the past have typically undergone years of safety and efficacy testing in the field before gaining FDA approvals for general use, so their profiles will have been well established before being “mandated” for general use during outbreak crises. Those multi-year field tests were able to be carried out because legacy viruses mutated on time frames of years, thus allowing stable field testing to occur.

    However, with SARS-CoV-2, we’re adopting new vaccine technologies (eg, with mRNA and Adenovirus) using extremely abbreviated field testing data, so we’re effectively experimenting with the world’s population as “field lab mice,” while real-life efficacy and side-effects are being discovered as we go. And now we’re encountering serious decays in long-term vaccine efficacy due to rapidly mutating variants that seem to endlessly arise in short order. So why is this occurring? Until we fully understand the reasons, we will be chasing our own tails with endless sequential jabs of existing vaccines!

    But scientists are slowly making some headway in understanding, and the results thus far are totally contrary to commonly held beliefs —


    The referenced scientific research report can be found at —


    Basically one of the conclusions is that the more people who are vaccinated, while infectious transmissions are uncontrolled, the more likely that mutation-induced variants will arise … which is exactly what we’re experiencing worldwide, at this time, right? The lambda (Peru) variant is the next one after the delta (India) variant to start proliferating worldwide, with more to come, thus rendering existing vaccines to become even less effective over time!

    Furthermore, on the issue of safety, if we were to examine the VAERS database in the US (as well as the EMA database in the EU), we find suspiciously high numbers of reported adverse events; for example, from VAERS —


    Note this quote from the article above — “… if you search for deaths following all FDA-approved vaccines for the 30 years prior to the emergency use authorizations of the COVID-19 shots, you will see that there are now about TWICE as many deaths following the COVID-19 shots [as] compared to deaths following ALL vaccines for the PAST 30 YEARS.”

    It is true that adverse events recorded in VAERS do not ascribe actual causation of deaths or injuries, since those need to be individually adjudicated, but, then, why are there so little efforts being done to adjudicate them? Costs? Fear of Truths to emerge?

    Note that I’m not an anti-vaxxer, as I believe that choosing to get vaccinated should be an individual’s choice, but there are better ways to actually kill off SARS-CoV-2 than to naively and blindly coerce everyone to get vaccinated to the max! Furthermore, “Follow the Science” must be more than just another political slogan used to mislead the public!

  17. @strictlyfacts: still trying to defend the fat pig. Care to disavow the 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine the idiot tried to push? Get a new name. Maybe nofactsjuststupidity. You have the credibility of Kelly Ann Conway.

  18. @ StricklyFacts. Well thought out and well written opinion. It’s nice to read thoughts from someone who does critical thinking instead of the narrative dribble regurgitated with disparaging slang and innuendo many “informed”readers post here.
    @ JohnW. Thanks. He and Bob Six were two of my all time favorites. And yes, I was flying when they were running their companies before Ackerman and Lorenzo destroyed those two world class airlines.

  19. @Ray — “Care to disavow the 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine the idiot tried to push?”

    Perhaps you need to actually educate yourself, rather than spewing your tired old debunked Progressive talking points —


    The referenced research report can be found here —


    A very thorough collection of research reports into use and efficacy can be found here —


    Just so you know — Ivermectin is even MORE effective than HCQ used with Azythromycin and Zinc, so vaccination is NOT the only path towards “controlling” SARS-CoV-2!
    @ One Trippe — Thank you!

  20. StrictlyFacts – thank you for your well-stated dialog. I realize that I don’t have to tell you to ignore the uneducated jug heads that resort to attacking, which is epically typical of the leftist idiots. Their loud mouthed, name calling slander-ridden guff is hilarious. It is heartening to see the level of brain power they are working with. Keep the faith.

  21. @getwings Thank you for the very funny parody post. You starting by criticizing people for attacking then spending the entire rest of your post making insults was hilarious.
    My only question is, aren’t you afraid that some people will think you’re serious?

  22. while the rest of the world is begging for the shots it is the anti vaxers in this country which is hurting us all,they are completely selfish and have no care about their fellow citizens or the imuno compromised or the young children when are unable to take the shots at this time.I am a former airline employee and have travelled all over the world and have finally realized why lots of people think of us as the ugly Americans.It is true due to the misinformation that fox and these people expound.I am proud to be an American but it is unbelievable that we have so many people in this country that as so stupid and uncaring about their fellow citizens.It is little wonder that the medical staffs in these hospitals have to deal with these individuals every day even though if they had been vaccinated they would not be prolonging this horrible pandemic rather that doing their part to make it safer and better for us all.My friend almost died because of these uncaring people.It is getting harder and harder to feel sorry for them when they are on life support in the hospitals all over this country.I don’t know how our heroes in the hospitals help them even though they put themselves in the position they are in.We are so lucky to be Americans.Why can’t we work together to solve this problem instead of making it worse.I also feel badly for the poor children who may have been exposed to one of these uncaring and selfish individuals.

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