American Airlines’ Employee Vaccination Incentive

Filed Under: American

American Airlines has just given employees an incentive to get vaccinated, following a similar announcement from Marriott yesterday.

American Airlines encourages employee vaccination

American Airlines employees who get the COVID-19 vaccine will receive an extra vacation day in 2022, plus $50 in Nonstop Thanks recognition points. This incentive is available to all US-based mainline and wholly owned subsidiary team members. Obviously not everyone is eligible for the vaccine yet, so this is an opportunity that will continue to be available as the vaccine becomes available to all.

This was revealed in a note to employees from American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and American Airlines President Robert Isom, which in part read as follows:

“As we close out the first week of March, we remain optimistic that 2021 will be a year of recovery for American. We still don’t know how quickly demand will return, but we know vaccines will be an important part of the recovery. That’s why we are fully engaged in the effort to make vaccination available to our team as quickly and widely as possible. We strongly encourage all team members to get vaccinated whenever you have the opportunity to do so, and our goal is to make that as easy as possible for you.”

American Airlines is encouraging employees to get vaccinated

Well done, American!

Just as I said about Marriott yesterday, I think this concept is well thought out by American. We’ve seen a lot of travel brands talk about the importance of vaccination, but we haven’t seen them create incentives to get vaccinated.

For example, United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby has stated that he would like vaccination to be mandatory for all employees. He explained that in order for that to happen other companies would have to take a similar stance, or else United wouldn’t be able to “get away” with it.

I think American is taking exactly the right approach here — the company is giving employees an incentive to get vaccinated, without forcing it for now. Ultimately employees in the travel industry getting vaccinated is important — it’s not just about keeping them safe, but also about keeping travelers safe, given that most early studies suggest that vaccinated people are less likely to spread coronavirus as well.

While this is a nice initiative on American’s part, there are a couple of airlines that have had more impressive milestones (which ultimately comes down to vaccination progress in other countries).

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways recently became the first major airline to vaccinate all pilots and cabin crew. The company didn’t make it mandatory, but rather stated that those who choose not to get vaccinated won’t be entitled to sick leave or health insurance benefits through the company, should they get coronavirus.

All Etihad pilots & flight attendants have been vaccinated

A few days later, Israel-based EL AL became the first major airline to vaccinate all customer-facing employees. Go figure the UAE and Israel have been the top two countries in terms of per-capita vaccination.

Bottom line

American Airlines is incentivizing employees to get vaccinated, by offering an extra vacation day in 2022, plus a $50 reward. While the reward won’t be life changing, it’s a nice gesture, and it’s more than we’ve seen from other US airlines at this point.

What do you make of American’s vaccination incentive?

  1. ONE WHOLE extra vacation day? An ENTIRE $50? So generous. Maybe they could throw in two cans of dog food.

  2. Unrelated, but assuming you heard about the hack of SITA passenger service, effecting frequent flyer info for millions of passengers on both onewoorld and star alliance airlines?

  3. I’m guessing the extra vacation day is to compensate for anyone having to take a day off for the vaccine (whether that’s for the appointment or the side effects).

  4. Agree with @JB

    My company just said “make sure you schedule the second shot when you have the next day off.” I had a low grade fever for about 36 hours. Not terrible, but could not have worked if I had been scheduled.

    At the hospital my sister works at, people were told if they had symptoms afterwards, they could have the day off without affecting their normal PTO/sick leave. I think a lot of people had “symptoms.”

  5. Right now CDC would not say whether or not a fully vaccinated person could be a virus carrier similar to an asymptotic person. Then getting vaccinated should be a personal decision. Note that according to NBC in “Johnson & Johnson’s trial … the vaccine was found to be 72 percent effective at preventing what the company defined as moderate to severe Covid-19.” What this means that the vaccinated people were still infected with Covid-19 but the disease is not severe. Indeed, such folks could be still Covid-19 carriers. Now, if I am a vaccinated FA, I could be getting a minor case of Covid-19 – perhaps, a headache and no fever. Then I will not think about Covid-19 and show up for work to spread the virus.

  6. @Chuck an extra day off to get a shot (I’d already get) that seems quite generous. Marriott is giving 4 hours pay, I’d rather have a day off.

    I think it’s great.

  7. Honestly, I feel like only one day of vacation is a bit miserly. I’ve got a few friends who’ve been knocked on their asses for like 2-3 days by the second dose. Obviously it’s worth the ordeal, given the alternative. But if they’re actually trying to incentivize employees to go out of their way to get it, they should at least cover the potential downside.

  8. @ Lucky…not sure any employer can make vaccines under CURRENT authorization act for this vaccine. This is why the incentives.

  9. Everyone who is saying “it won’t cover the days off for getting sick from the shot” isn’t understanding this at all. This is a vacation day for next year not this year. AA has sick leave, which would cover any side effects of the shot. This is above and beyond that and is a feee vacation day for the next year. It may not be a lot but it’s a pretty nice incentive especially for those who work at a company with free flying.

  10. @JB and NK3. The vacation day is not to use to get the vaccine or recover, we are already allotted time off for that.

  11. @Evan

    Yah I just got that email today about the breach of personal info. Around 4pm central time. What the heck ?

  12. Total snowflake mentality. You want to work for AA? Get the vaccine. Are you anti-vax? Go find another job. That simple. No incentive needed.

  13. @Kuloko At this point you have to worry more about protecting your own life than possibly spreading COVID. While the vaccines appear to not be anywhere near 100% effective in preventing spread, they are pretty much near 100% effective in preventing severe illness and most importantly death. You can pretty much guarantee that even if you were to catch COVID, it would be something minor at most. So when you think about the vaccine as this: an opportunity to guarantee your safety or as a way to potentially spread COVID unknowingly, I prefer to think of it as an opportunity to guarantee your own safety.

    So since it isn’t a 100% guarantee that an employee can’t spread COVID, it seems like you’re asking why should getting vaccines than also be something tied to professional life. Well the answer is that companies like AA benefit from not having an employee catch COVID and potentially dying. This would certainly be something blamed on AA or any other company and while there may be no legal repercussion, the public relations repercussions of employees dying after catching COVID from working on a plane is huge. Then there is also a reduction in COVID spread. While it is not 100%, any reduction is still a reduction which makes it better before and reduces the chance of COVID outbreaks tied to AA planes, a win win for everyone involved.

  14. @JG Stunning and so American-like for people to not realize sick time would definitely cover something like this from getting the vaccine to the possible side effects. In addition shouldn’t it be plainly obvious that the hospitality industry would have accommodations for employees getting vaccines… Obviously they won’t make people to use a vacation day for something like that.

  15. This incentive from AA equates to $323 total for a veteran Flight Attendant – not bad but certainly nothing over the top !

  16. Great initiative from American, but it also highlights how terrible working conditions and workers rights are in the country.

  17. @Jordan — According to a newly released Pew poll, 69% of Americans intend to get or have already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. “The stats” prove the opposite of what you said.

  18. A vaccine so effective they have to pay people to take it. Agree with @Jordan

    BTW, vaccine companies are immune from liability that arise from vaccines.

    Also, this vaccine is not yet FDA approved. It is for emergency use right now. I read (can’t confirm this) that, as such, insurance companies will not pay for claims from injury from it because it is experimental. I do know from my own experience that my insurance company will not pay for experimental treatments.

  19. @airgypsy, the willingness of people to take a vaccine is not a reflection of vaccine effectiveness. It’s a reflection of the stupidity of the population.

    “Experimental” . All the current vaccines have phase III randomised trial results supporting their use. The highest standard of evidence in medical sciences. What standard would enlightened individuals such as yourself require for a therapy to be “non experimental”?

  20. @Aussie. When it’s been officially approved by the FDA. It isn’t FDA approved right now.

  21. @Andreas you just be joking or demented? American working conditions and labor laws are certainly in the top tier worldwide. Perhaps you can work in PNG, India or Venezuela and report back to us on their stellar worker shangra-la conditions.

  22. @Timo Two weeks paid holiday, little to no job security, poverty salaries, many jobs not offering health insurance? Reminds me of some of the countries you mention.

  23. It’s not really about how “big” the incentive is IMO. Plus you have to remember that AA is the largest commercial airline in the US. I can’t say for sure at this point (do to layoffs/early retirement..etc) but in 2020 they had over 130,000 employees. The next biggest airline had about 90,000. Obviously not everyone will get the jab, but it is potentially a huge amount of money they’d be giving away. In a time where they are already hemorrhaging cash.

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