How United Airlines Decided to Lead the Vaccination Mission

SK: It started at United. I started having a lot of conversations, even organized conversations, with business groups, with people talking about it. I have a bunch of emails in my inbox from other people who might want to do the same if we do. And a lot of conversations with people about it. It’s all been helpful because my team and I talked and thought about this and thought about the challenges and how you’re actually managing them all the way back in November. , cases dropped, deaths dropped, and perhaps by March, I’d stopped writing to the staff’s families. It started to feel as if this was going to end. The next moment I almost pulled the trigger on it was when the delta variant kicked in in India as we were sending staff to India. Again, I feel an obligation. There are days when we bring hundreds of tons of medical equipment into India to the north. And we are the only US airline to fly to India in response to the crisis. Our people were worried about that. What we did instead was negotiate an agreement with our pilots and flight attendant unions that we encourage employees to get vaccinated. But we also reserve the right to be a company that designates certain countries because only vaccinated employees can fly to those countries. That makes me sleep better at night about countries like India, but that’s the next time we think about it. After that, of course, delta variation started appearing in the United States. I also looked at our case numbers, and the people in the ICU, those people started to increase again. Then I’m on vacation [in August] in Croatia, and the second death occurred. I went for a walk alone for about half an hour and talked to my wife about it. Then, when the time zone was correct, I called Brett [Hart] and Kate [Gebo], our president and the EVP of human resources, and we talked. At the end of it, we say, “We’ll do it. And I’ll be back in America on Wednesday. Announce this on Thursday or Friday. “TOB: When you were walking around on your own for that half an hour, what were you trying to organize? How United Airlines Decided to Lead the Vaccination Mission


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