American Airlines Won’t Require Employee Vaccination

American Airlines is not planning to mandate vaccination for its employees, said CEO Doug Parker. The decision comes days after United and Frontier both announced plans to make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for employees in the next two months. Let’s find out more about American’s decision.

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While American is incentivizing its staff to get the vaccine, it won’t enforce a mandate on them. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying


In a podcast interview with the New York Times, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker spoke about employee vaccine mandates. During the discussion, he clarified that American will not be requiring its employees to be fully vaccinated but would rather push incentives to encourage them.

American’s decision stands in contrast to rival United and low-cost Frontier Airlines, both of whom have announced in recent days that they will set deadlines for their entire workforce to be vaccinated against COVID.

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American has long chosen to avoid vaccine mandates during the politically charged debate. Photo: Getty Images

During the interview, Parker said about employee vaccinations,

“What we’ve been doing from the start is putting great incentives in for our employees to be vaccinated. Anyone who is vaccinated by August 31 at American Airlines gets one day of extra vacation in 2022 and they get a $50 gift card. And that, we think, is the right way to motivate people to get vaccinated, and we’re pushing that really hard…We certainly encourage it everywhere we can, encourage it for our customers and our employees, but we’re not putting mandates in place.”

Will it be enough?

As the US experiences a surge of cases due to the Delta variant, airlines are feeling the heat in the last month of summer. After a strong recovery in the second quarter, rising cases may cause a fall in domestic passenger traffic once again, reversing these hard-earned gains. Moreover, with government support set to end in October, airlines could be exposed to huge losses.

This is why airlines are starting to take a hardline on vaccination. With Delta being far more contagious than previous variants, being vaccinated is the only strong line of defense to prevent getting and spreading the disease. This is why vaccinating employees, especially frontline ones, has become so important.

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United Airlines has said that anyone who doesn’t get fully vaccinated will be let go from the airline. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

However, airlines still differ on whether mandates or incentives are more effective in reaching their goals. The good news is that the US vaccination program has picked up steam again in recent days. With over 70% of the adult population given at least one dose of the vaccine, thousands of frontline staff have already been covered.


The topic of vaccine mandates has been in the news recently. Companies such as Facebook, Google, Broadway theatre, and dozens of others have all announced that all their employees must be vaccinated by a fixed date.

For most, vaccines are the only shot at getting back to a pre-pandemic normal, helping businesses recover and allowing lives to get back on track. However, with a debate still underway, it’s unclear if or when this can happen.

What do you think about American’s decision not to mandate vaccines? Let us know in the comments!