Proposed bill would require COVID vaccine, negative test for domestic air travel ahead of holidays

ByMelanie Woodrow KGO logo
Thursday, September 30, 2021
New COVID bill proposed for US air travel ahead of holidays
Travelers could be looking at new COVID restrictions as we embark on the holiday season.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Travelers could be looking at new COVID restrictions as we embark on the holiday season. It's one of several COVID-related updates for the airline industry.

With the Thanksgiving holiday just around the corner and one of the busiest times to fly, California Senator Diane Feinstein tweeted "We can't allow upcoming holiday air travel to contribute to another surge in COVID cases. Today, I introduced legislation requiring passengers on domestic flights to be vaccinated, test negative or be fully recovered from a previous COVID illness."

Willis Orlando is a Flight Expert at Scott's Cheap Flights.

"If it were to become law it really would just be kind of adding restrictions in the U.S. that already exist elsewhere in the world and that have been working pretty well to contain COVID," said Orlando.

"I really don't see any way where it would be a big problem although passengers may be a little bit upset based on what we've seen in the past in the U.S.," he continued.

It's not just travelers who are impacted. United Airlines announced it is letting go close to 600 employees who chose not to comply with the company's vaccine requirement. The airline says it represents less than 1% of their US based employees. It referred to the decision as incredibly difficult but necessary for safety.

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"Airlines are doing not only what they can to protect themselves and their passengers but also their reputation too," said Orlando.

Albert Hsieh is the Founder and CEO of Foxtrot Dash, a travel company that encourages smart points spending.

"I actually feel the most safe flying internationally," said Hsieh.

Hsieh, an avid traveler, recently returned to the San Francisco Bay Area.

"I empathize with the flight attendants on board. She had to enforce masks at least a dozen times you know kind of walking up and down the aisle," said Hsieh.

RELATED: Passenger attempts to storm cockpit, strangles and kicks flight attendant on JetBlue flight

Both Hsieh and Orlando expect some passengers will continue to resist COVID travel restrictions including wearing masks, with the most extreme being fights with flight attendants.

"You're choosing to do something optional, you don't have to get on that plane, if you're going to get on that plane, follow the airline's rules and remember give the flight attendants a little bit of grace, they are working very, very hard right now," said Orlando.

"Anything we can do to continue to encourage travel in the most comfortable and safe way I think is really important for everybody," said Hsieh.

New potential travel guidelines ahead of what has traditionally been the busiest travel season of the year.