In May, Delta Air Lines announced it would require new hires to get the COVID-19 vaccine. In June, United Airlines followed suit. Now, the latter is taking it a step further, mandating that all of its 67,000 US employees, from pilots and flight attendants to gate agents, get vaccinated. It's the first major domestic carrier to do so, reports CNBC. Employees will have to have been fully vaccinated five weeks after the FDA gives full approval to a vaccine or by Oct. 25, whichever comes first. Those who show proof of having done so before Sept. 20 may even receive an extra day's pay. Those employees who don't have proof of vaccination by the deadline will be fired. A company rep tells CNN Business that United will not mandate vaccinations for travelers and that such a decision should be left to the government.
There will be religious and health exceptions made for employees, though those individuals will have to wear masks, and the requirement doesn't apply to regional airlines that handle United's shorter flights. "We know some of you will disagree with this decision," United CEO Scott Kirby and President Brett Hart said Friday in a memo to employees. But "the facts are crystal clear: Everyone is safer when everyone is vaccinated." The Wall Street Journal has this line from the memo: "Over the last 16 months, Scott has sent dozens of condolences letters to the family members of United employees who have died from COVID-19. We’re determined to do everything we can to try to keep another United family from receiving that letter." (Read more United Airlines stories.)