Traveling by air may get even more complicated if a reported plan by major carrier airlines requiring passengers to be vaccinated comes to fruition. After the increasing problem of unvaccinated individuals contracting and spreading communicable diseases, airlines hope to be a stopgap solution to preventing larger outbreaks. An inside source with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) suggests that, “Multiple major carriers have begun discussing requiring vaccination records for all passengers before allowing them to board a flight.”
The FAA source, speaking on condition of anonymity explains that many of the airlines have, “had it with the anti-vaccination arguments and don’t want to be left with the guilt and partial responsibility when a preventable disease spreads by way of air travel.” It is assumed that a valid vaccination record will be required upon check in before travelers embark on their journey. “It’ll add another step to the flight process, but the airlines, so far, are willing to absorb any costs associated with it,” said the FAA source. It is not expected to impact the already beleaguered Transportation Security Administration as this would be an elective requirement and not a federally mandated change.
The 2014 – 2015 U.S. measles outbreak spread to seven states and is widely believed to have been tied to vacationers at the Disneyland amusement park in Anaheim, California. Many speculate the spread of the disease outside of California was exacerbated due to vacationing families traveling by air. By requiring a valid vaccination record, the airlines would hope to minimize the wanton spread of infectious disease by keeping potential disease carrying individuals off all flights originating and terminating in the United States.
“The airlines are using the term ‘at risk individual’ up to this point to describe who they are targeting,” explains the FAA source. “I take that to mean individuals who are unvaccinated themselves or those who refuse to vaccinate their children. They (the airlines) realize this is a hot button issue at the moment, however, they allegedly feel this is the only way they can do their part to help keep their customers and employees safe and healthy. One ‘higher up’ with a major carrier said something to the effect of ‘this is the responsible thing to do’.”
Speculation is that the airlines would consider an option for frequent fliers to pre-register their vaccination status to avoid any further delays. The FAA source wants to make it clear that, “Again, this isn’t a federal mandate so the FAA is just paying attention to the discussion and giving our views when asked.”
The source at the FAA wouldn’t commit to a statement on whether other mass transit carriers, such as railroads or bus lines, would follow suit if this new tactic is implemented by the airlines.