A Letter to United Employees

by Scott Kirby, CEO at United Airlines
Jan 25, 2022 4:10 PM ET
Campaign: United Together
Scott Kirby talking to a group of 4 United Airlines employees

Originally published on LinkedIn

Happy New Year - I want to start this message with a thank you.

Our frontline teams continue to put in a tremendous effort during what I know is an incredibly challenging and stressful time - the Omicron surge has put a strain on our operation, resulting in customer disruptions during a busy holiday season. I appreciate your professionalism, creativity, and caring approach – it’s really made all the difference in helping us manage the impact on our customers.

In addition to impacting our operation and our customers, I also know that Omicron has affected the personal well-being of our United team. We have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID. Just as an example, in one day alone at Newark, nearly one-third of our workforce called out sick. To those who are out sick or isolating, we wish you a speedy recovery.

But as difficult as this period has been for you and our customers, there are two pieces of good news:

  1. While we go to great lengths to avoid cancelling flights, we worked to get ahead of the impact by acting early to cancel flights when necessary and notifying impacted customers in advance of them coming to the airport – we're also reducing our near-term schedules to make sure we have the staffing and resources to take care of customers. As a result, we’ve been able to get a high percentage of our customers on other flights and close to their original arrival time. And considering the impact of Omicron and winter weather, our NPS scores and contact center hold times continue to hold up well. While we hate to ever have any operational disruptions, these results are a credit to all of you and your teams so thank you again.
  2. The second and most important piece of good news is that our vaccine requirement is working – and saving lives. While we have about 3,000 employees who are currently positive for COVID, zero of our vaccinated employees are currently hospitalized. Since our vaccine policy went into effect, the hospitalization rate among our employees has been 100x lower than the general population in the U.S. Prior to our vaccine requirement, tragically, more than one United employee on average *per week* was dying from COVID. But we’ve now gone eight straight weeks with zero COVID-related deaths among our vaccinated employees – based on United’s prior experience and the nationwide data related to COVID fatalities among the unvaccinated, that means there are approximately 8-10 United employees who are alive today because of our vaccine requirement.

In dealing with COVID, zero is the word that matters - zero deaths and zero hospitalizations for vaccinated employees. And while I know that some people still disagree with our policy, United is proving that requiring the vaccine is the right thing to do because it saves lives.

Thank you for all you have done as we navigated the unprecedented and unpredictable challenges that COVID has thrown our way. Stay safe and please continue to take care of each other and our customers.