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United Prepared to Check Travelers for Vaccination Status

Chicago, IL, USA - March 17, 2016: A United Airlines 747-400 landing on 28C at the Chicago O'hare Airport.

Although the U.S. has not adopted a vaccine mandate for public transportation, United Airlines says they are prepared to check flyers’ vaccine status. Airline president Scott Kirby announced that although they do not foresee such a requirement, they could be compliant in a short amount of time.

To board any form of public transportation in the United States, travelers are required to wear a face covering from boarding to exit. If a vaccine requirement is implemented, United Airlines says they are prepared for the change. In an interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” carrier president Scott Kirby said they are prepared to validate flyers status if one becomes required.

“If they tell us that they want us to check everyone, we’re prepared to do that as well.”

The comments came as moderator Margaret Brennan asked if the Transportation Security Administration should be checking for COVID-19 vaccine cards at airport checkpoints. When pressed on if the TSA should move forward with that plan, Kirby said his airline was ready for that change.

“I think the administration’s perspective has been that getting people vaccinated at work, it’s a one shot and you can really get a whole bunch of the country. You can get a high percentage of the country as opposed to making it a burden on people that are vaccinated every time you get a plane, a train, any kind of public transportation to prove that you’re vaccinated. So, for now, I think their approach of focusing on the employment and focusing on work is probably the right way to go. But they’ve got great data and science, and if they tell us that they want us to check everyone, we’re prepared to do that as well.”
–United Airlines president Scott Kirby on CBS News “Face the Nation”

United would already be in a strong place to check flyer’s COVID-19 vaccine status, after running a giveaway over the summer to encourage MileagePlus members to upload images of their inoculation cards. During their 2021 second quarter results call, airline leaders said over 80 percent of the loyalty program members reported being fully vaccinated.

In addition, United is the only airline among the three legacy carriers to require their workforce to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus or find different employment. Delta Air Lines will add a health insurance premium surcharge to unvaccinated workers, while American Airlines is offering incentives for employees to get the shot.

Full Air Travel Demand May Not Come Until 2022

During the interview, Kirby also noted that the airline may not be profitable until 2022, due in part to the concern around the COVID-19 Delta variant. Combined with offices pushing back office opening dates, the airline president predicted they may not see a real demand recovery until January.

sethb October 31, 2021

Vaccines reduce transmission, they don't stop it.  If you're infectious for 1/3 as long, you share infections with 1/3 as many people.

rpt777 October 16, 2021

Factually speaking, vaccines do not stop the transmission of the virus. They merely protect the person vaccinated by improving their vulnerability to symptoms and thus a poor outcome.   A vaccinated person can just as easily carry the virus and an unvaccinated person, however they may carry it for a shorter time as their immune system will likely react sooner to defeat the virus.  The initial viral load of an exposed person, wheather vaccinated or unvaccinated is the same. the vaccinated person is more likely to be asymmetric but being asymmetric is not the same as being a non carrier. in short the vaccine, which I would hope everyone would make the choice to protect themselves with only protects the person who receives it.  Your having a vaccine does not protect anyone and anyone else having it does not protect you. I have had 3 vaccine doeses as well as some immunity from having had the virus, so I likely won't become deathly ill from covid but I could still carry it as much as an unvaccinated person. Having said that, it is likely I would carry it for only 2 or 3 days,but an unvaccinated person might carry it a week or more before their own immune system kills it. 

volabam October 4, 2021

Right - drop the masks and it's a deal.

bbriscoe34 October 3, 2021

If they mandate a vaccine for air travel, can we drop the mask requirements?

burbanite October 1, 2021

"Sooner they implement this the better." Why? Do you think it makes fraidy cats like you safe?