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Plan ahead: Airline worker shortages could impact your holiday travel

Airline employees refusing to comply with vaccine mandates at work could be the reason your holiday flight isn’t clear for take-off.

The pandemic has already caused worker shortages in industries across the board. 

Now, airline employees refusing to comply with vaccine mandates at work could be the reason your holiday flight isn’t clear for take-off.

United Airlines said late Tuesday it will begin terminating 593 employees over the next few days for refusing to get vaccinated.

So, could this impact your holiday travel?

"I think the headline is 'yes,'"  Debbie Haas, the VP of Travel at AAA the Auto Club Group, said. "The question is how do you plan for it and set yourself up so you have the least disruption from it."

Haas says the holiday season is naturally competitive for air travel.

Mix together pandemic worker shortages, trips happening now that were previously postponed, and relaxed international travel restrictions, and you’ve got the recipe for a tougher time getting an affordable ticket.

"It is certainly true that many schedule changes are happening, and it would take a bit for that to stabilize, I would think," Haas said. 

So what can you do?

“I think you’re smart if you plan all the way around, and that includes rental cars because you already know there’s a chip shortage,” she said.

Haas also recommended looking into travel insurance.

"Travel insurance can really help protect your health and your wallet," she said. "Now we even have coverages to offer for that cover for COVID should you get COVID before your trip or while you’re traveling."

Lastly, she says you can get vaccinated if you want the most options available.

"Being vaccinated is becoming an industry norm, almost," Haas said. "If you look at what’s required for cruising, if you look at what’s required for guided vacations, and increasing numbers of destinations, particularly internationally. For the traveler who wants the most options, being vaccinated is certainly the way to go."

We reached out to some major airlines to find out what vaccine standards are like at their companies. 

United Airlines representatives sent a statement saying more than 99 percent of their US-based employees chose to get vaccinated, excluding those who submitted for an accommodation. For the less than 1 percent of people who decided not to get vaccinated, the company is beginning the process of "separation."

American Airlines representatives sent us a statement saying they have opened a new incentive for US-based mainline team members that provides an extra day of vacation pay in 2021, as well as $50 in Nonstop "Thanks Points."

We also reached out to Delta, and their representatives sent a statement saying they have an 82 percent vaccination rate that is still increasing. "Unvaccinated employees must have weekly tests, and starting in November, are subject to a $200 healthcare plan surcharge. Since May, new employees are required to be vaccinated," Delta reps reported in an email. 

RELATED: Southwest Airlines offers extra pay to vaccinated employees

RELATED: Quitting over vaccine requirements? Polls find some workers consider the option but few are

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