COVID-19 Vaccinations Among Issues Pilots Are Taking Up With Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines, with a major hub at Denver International Airport, has been in the headlines over cancellations. Now, they're in court with their pilots.
Southwest cancelled over 1,800 flights about a week ago, disrupting tens of thousands of flyers and their plans. Weather, air traffic control, and staffing were stated as being the issues. Things could get worse, with their pilots not vaccinating.
According to TIME, Southwest Airlines' biggest customer is the U.S. government, and the government is mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for all federally contracted workers by December 8, 2021, which would include the pilots of the airline.
The union for the pilots, however, is fighting that mandate, which could put that biggest contract in jeopardy.
The union, which respresents 9,000 Southwest pilots, has filed a lawsuit, requesting a restraining order, stating that Southwest is making 'unilateral' changes that violate a act the governs Airline-union relations, and they don't want to go along with the changes that include the COVID-19 vaccinations, and they don't want to do anything until their lawsuit gets resolved.
Regarding COVID-19 vaccinations, the pilots argue that they could see adverse reactions, which could interfere with them passing medical checks needed for flying. They want clarity on if the reactions will qualify them for disability.
Plus, the pilots aren't allowed to fly for 48 hours after getting the COVID-19 vaccination, according to FAA rules.
It kind of sounds like a 'catch-22:' If they don't get the shot, they can't fly, if they do get the shot, they can't fly.
Southwest wants the courts to block the lawsuit, so that they won't have to roll back their compliance date of November 24, 2021, or even passed the President's December 8 mandate.
It's hard to say where this will affect our getting out of DIA during the holidays, but you might want to avoid booking flights on the airline to be safe. We'll know more after October 22, 2021, when there will be a hearing on the matter.
Southwest is my 'go-to' airline when it comes to my air travel out of Denver, I don't like the idea of them having major staffing issues heading into this holiday season.
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