Ross: Choosing the fully-vaccinated airline that makes you feel safest

Oct 13, 2021, 6:21 AM | Updated: 12:29 pm
A Southwest Airlines ticketing agent helps a traveler at the check-in counter. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Two airlines – Southwest and American – both based in Texas, have decided to stick with their plans to require employees to get vaccinated, ignoring Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order banning vaccine mandates for private businesses in the state.

The governor is in a stare-down with President Biden, although it’s a strange one: Here’s a Republican governor saying employee rights supersede corporate rights. Which would make him … a Democrat!

And at the same time, we have a Democratic President siding with the airlines, which makes him a Republican.

But maybe politics is the wrong way to look at this. So, let’s forget politics for a moment and talk about the marketplace.

As an airline customer myself who will soon be boarding a plane to visit family, I want to fly an airline where the pilots, flight attendants, passengers, cleaning crew, luggage handlers, and the guy with the orange flashlights on the tarmac are all masked, vaccinated, and boosted, regardless of who runs Texas.

Now that I, and my siblings and their spouses are all in our sixties, I’ve become very COVID-averse, especially having known people with COVID. I was hoping to find a carrier with a name like “Pro-Vax Airlines,” but United came close enough, so I booked United. Their employee policy is: You don’t vax, you don’t fly.

Does that mean I don’t respect employee religious beliefs? Of course not. If there was a carrier called “Anti-Vax Airlines” where the staff wears buttons saying “Un-Vaxxed and Proud,” and and the oxygen masks are already deployed, I would not object. But I’m not going anywhere near that gate.

Because I have religious beliefs, too, and one of them is that God works through human beings. And those vaccines are a medical miracle. The Pope called vaccination “an act of love.”

Even though I know the tussle over mandates will go on and on, I think the bottom line is that mandates or not, people are going to choose the airline that makes them feel safe.

The last thing any airline needs right now is a headline that says “Unvaccinated employee becomes in-flight super-spreader.” Especially Southwest, which has enough problems as it is.

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Ross: Choosing the fully-vaccinated airline that makes you feel safest