Vaccine Incentive: United Offers Flight Attendants Extra Vacation

On Thursday, the Association of Flight Attendants announced that it had reached an agreement with United Airlines to offer extra vacation days to crew if they chose to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Incentivizing inoculations is meant to maintain a competitive advantage for United in markets set to make vaccinations mandatory for airline crew.

United Airlines has reached an agreement with the flight attendants’ union for extra vacation days in exchange for vaccinations. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Initially, United’s CEO Scott Kirby wanted to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all of the airline’s over 60,000 employees. While this has not yet come to pass, the airline has been finding other ways of incentivizing staff to get the jab.

Last month, it was announced that the airline’s pilots who decided to get the vaccine would receive up to 13 hours of added pay.  The maximum amount was to be awarded to those who got their first shot no later than June 1st and schedule doses so that no sick leave would be required.

Three days additional vacation

Now, an agreement has been reached with the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA for a similar voluntary vaccination scheme. While it remains up to cabin crew whether or not they wish to be vaccinated, United is offering those who choose to do so three extra vacation days. The flight attendants’ union says it will also help United Airlines maintain a competitive advantage should countries only allow entry to vaccinated airline crew.

“It is anticipated, without advance notice, some countries may begin to require flight crews to be vaccinated.  Having these records in place allows United to meet these requirements quickly and efficiently and maintain a competitive advantage within the industry while ensuring each of us can continue to fly our awarded schedules without interruption,” the AFA-CWA said in a statement issued on Thursday.

United Airlines cabin crew
United cabin crew who are fully vaccinated by June 9th will receive three additional vacation days. Photo: United Airlines

June 9th cut-off date

To receive the maximum number of days, active United flight attendants must be fully vaccinated by June 9th. They may also have received their first dose if on a two-dose regime, granted that they take the second dose within the manufacturer’s recommended time interval.

The same goes for those on leave of absence returning by July 1st if they receive their first dose by June 9th. The program works retroactively, and so includes those who have already had their inoculations.

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It also takes into consideration those currently on a leave of absence but returning before December 21st, 2021. They will then have 15 days from the return date to receive the first vaccination shot. Furthermore, the days can be used to maximize earnings by taking pay in place of vacation.

Passengers Getty
United is including its loyalty program members in its vaccination initiative scheme. Photo: Getty Images

Your Shot to Fly

Meanwhile, United is expanding its vaccination initiative drive beyond its employees. Late last month, the carrier announced its ‘Your Shot to Fly’ program. This lets any new or existing loyalty program members to upload their vaccine certificates to the airline’s mobile app or website until June 22nd.

They then enter a sweepstake where United will give away 30 pairs of tickets throughout the month of June, to anywhere in the world the airline flies, and in any class of service. Furthermore, on July 1st, the airline will announce five fully-inoculated participants will win a full free year of travel for themselves and a companion.

Would an extra incentive tip the balance if you were on the fence about getting vaccinated? Why, why not? Leave a comment below and let us know. 

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