Southwest Airlines will require employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19

A Southwest Airlines plane painted with Arizona's flag on a runway in front of snow-tipped mountains
Southwest Airlines. David Zalubowski/AP Photo
  • Southwest Airlines will require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Nov. 24.
  • The 54,000-person company is complying with Biden’s federal vaccine mandate.
  • Following this news, Delta is the last major U.S. airline to not have a vaccine mandate, according to Forbes.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines will require its employees to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by November 24, according to Reuters.

Southwest said that employees would need to be fully vaccinated “to continue employment,” according to the Dallas Morning News, after pressure from the federal government.

“Southwest Airlines must join our industry peers in complying with the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccination directive,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO told the Dallas Morning News. “I encourage all Southwest Employees to meet the federal directive, as quickly as possible, since we value every individual and want to ensure job security for all.”

Southwest, in complying with federal guidelines, is requiring all of its staff members to report vaccination status by December 8, the company announced. Those with a disability, a medical condition, or a religious belief that prohibits them from getting the vaccine can request an accommodation through the company, according to Reuters.

Following Biden’s federal vaccine mandate for companies larger than 100 people, multiple airlines began to roll out their own vaccine mandates company-wide, Insider’s Madison Hall reported. Southwest currently has more than 54,000 employees, according to the company.

United Airlines was the first airline to take action and actually fire anyone who did not comply with its vaccine mandate. While it originally planned to fire 600 workers, only 320 were actually fired, which accounts for less than one-half of one percent of United’s 67,000 employees.

As of Sunday, all major airlines – including American, Alaska, JetBlue, United, Hawaiian, Frontier – except Southwest and Delta had implemented vaccine mandates, Forbes reported. After today’s news, Delta stands alone.