The CEO of one of the US’s largest airlines has described the concept of needing to be vaccinated to travel domestically as unlikely. Scott Kirby, the CEO of United Airlines, discussed the idea yesterday, and labeled it as a question for the government, not for the airlines, with his answer bound to be a relief for pandemic-weary travelers across the country.
Whilst there may be a consensus that a mandatory vaccine for domestic travel would be a step too far, airlines have differed with their approaches to safe flying during the pandemic. As well as passenger vaccinations being a hot topic, employee vaccinations have also been in the news, with some airlines mandating the inoculation and others not. Here’s everything you need to know about mandatory vaccinations for passengers and employees, and a recap of other safety-related changes to the flying experience.
Vaccine For Flights Unlikely – What Travelers Should Know
The pandemic has seen many of us change the way we plan, approach and carry out travel. Entry restrictions and requirements are among the first things travelers check now, with the need to be inoculated now a barrier to entry for many countries around the world. Yet whilst a vaccine may be needed to travel internationally, it is looking unlikely that it will be needed to travel domestically – or at least that’s the belief of United Airlines’ CEO Scott Kirby.
Speaking to CNN yesterday, Kirby batted away the idea that travelers would need to be vaccinated for domestic travel, answering with “it’s a government question, but I suspect that it won’t happen domestically.” Kirby isn’t alone in his assertions, with the CEO of Delta Airlines Ed Bastian also sharing the same opinion a few months ago. However, the situation for staff at airlines across the US is markedly different.
Mandatory Vaccination For Staff – Information For Travelers
Last week, United Airlines made headlines for being the first airline in the US to mandate vaccination for all of its employees. The airline gave its employees either until October 25th to be vaccinated, or five weeks after the FDA fully approves a vaccine – or they run the risk of getting fired. United was also joined by Frontier Airlines, which required their staff to be vaccinated by October 1st or commit to regular testing instead. Following a meeting with President Biden, United’s Scott Kirby described the mandatory vaccination call for businesses as “inevitable”.
However, other airlines have so far resisted the urge to join United in their commitment to mass inoculation. Southwest Airlines revealed in a memo that they strongly suggested their staff get vaccinated, but they would not force the issue. American Airlines have also incentivized vaccination with an extra vacation day, but have also decided against making it compulsory. Delta – despite requiring new hires to be vaccinated – have not mandated that all their staff get jabbed against Covid-19.
Airline Safety During Covid-19 – A Recap For Travelers
United’s decision to fully vaccinate their staff has been made with passenger safety in mind, in the wake of the ever-growing threat of the Delta variant. However, it is just one of many ways that airlines have endeavored to make the flying experience safer for travelers.
From compulsory mask-wearing from check-in to leaving the airport and the removal of middle seats, to halting the sale of alcoholic drinks on board, airlines have covered plenty of bases when it comes to reducing the risk of the harm coming to their customers – with Qatar Airways’ efforts in the field playing a role in the airline scooping the award for the best airline. With little end in sight as far as the pandemic is concerned, these changes are sure to be sticking around for a while.
This article originally appeared on Travel Off Path. For the latest breaking news that will affect your next trip, please visit: Traveloffpath.com
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories