Get ready for turbulence ahead.
Yesterday American Airlines had almost 300 of its flights canceled, almost 10 percent of its total schedule, far more than ANY other carrier in the United States (Southwest remains second), and another 673 delayed. It is no doubt purely coincidental that I have heard from multiple pilots at American this week and that its pilot forums are filled with anger at the vaccine mandate.
It is also no doubt a coincidence that Delta - which has had far fewer problems than the other big carriers - has been the only one NOT to impose a vaccine mandate.
Meanwhile, though they still insist last weekend’s meltdown had nothing - NOTHING, I TELL YOU - to do with their vaccine mandate, Southwest’s executives have dramatically changed their rhetoric about said mandate.
On a video call yesterday, the company’s CEO encouraged employees who don’t want to be vaccinated to apply for exemptions and said he didn’t want anyone to lose a job over vaccinations. Last week, the language went like this: “Failure to comply with the COVID-19 Vaccination Policy will result in termination of employment.” (Still, the mandate remains in place, unless Southwest simply decides to wave through every exemption request.)
Nothing to see here, folks.
Let’s be real: many airline employees are furious with the mandates. Especially pilots. By nature they tend to be conservative self-starters. No one decides to fly planes for a living if he isn’t comfortable with pressure and being responsible for other people (and has an ego, too - old joke: How do you know there’s an F-16 pilot in the room? He’ll tell you.)
They - many of them, anyway - don’t want the vaccine. But unlike most people, they can do something about it. They are inside huge companies with VERY complicated work rules, and they have union protections. And they are aware of the fragility of the system, and not just at Southwest.
Airlines can swing from huge profits to huge losses in months, depending on fuel prices and the overall economy - and that was before Covid travel rules made their corporate lives even more complicated. (No less an investor than Warren Buffett once said he would again never buy them again after a bad investment on them in the 1980s; then he did again, then he sold his positions at exactly the wrong time, after Covid hit last spring.)
Which means the pilots have a lot of leverage, should they choose to use it. A small number of sickouts at a single airline can snarl operations and lead to systemwide flight cancellations that leave tens or hundreds of thousands of people stranded for days. The costs to the travelers caught in the middle of this fight are real - they’ll be stuck and miserable at airports as their vacations are ruined and they miss funerals and weddings and business trips.
The pilots I’ve heard from don’t want that - they didn’t become pilots NOT to fly. But they also recognize they are speaking for tens of millions of working Americans who are furious with the choice the Biden Administration is forcing on them: your right to make medical decisions for yourself, or your job.
So what happens next? The answer may come down to a delicate dance between the airlines - especially Southwest and American - and their employees. If the airlines signal that anyone who wants an exemption can get one, they may keep the anger to manageable levels.
If not - or if the Biden Administration steps in to force the issue?
I leave you with this email from yesterday:
I‘m a paid subscriber and thankful to be so. I’m also a pilot and fly international routes. On our trip back today from Europe to one of the airports in Texas we heard quite a bit of chatter on the 121.5 emergency frequency we always monitor. We figured out that it was people saying “Let’s go Brandon” and in some cases something worse
And we heard this most of the way after crossing the Canadian border. In my 20+ year the frequency has always remained silent. Not today.
121.5 is in use. The emergency is real. And not just in the air.
My husband is a pilot for AA. He is “sick”. He’s going to stay “sick”. I hope his fellow pilots will do the same. Time to turn the tide. Let’s Go Brandon.
I can say this because I have no travel plans at this time. And I hope I would feel the same way if I was a prospective inconvenienced traveler:
I applaud the pilots--and any other workers--who are in a position to push back on this relentless government over reach.
I'm only surprised that it took this long for Americans to assert themselves.
What bothers me about all this is the speed and eagerness of these companies to implement something that, technically, is not yet a regulation or executive order.
ALL companies, no matter what business they're in, are so beholden to the government they can't wait to follow through on a mere suggestion they should mandate vaccines.
That's something that has to change.
I fully support the pilots and other staffers who are taking a stand. I feel for those passengers who have been "stranded" or inconvenienced, but we must all be inconvenienced for a short period of time in order to stop this gov't overreach NOW. Stay home for 2 weeks, we complied, wear a useless piece of paper across your face, we complied, get a vax that really isn't a vax regardless of natural immunity, DO NOT COMPLY! I complied briefly with the stay at home, but I have been doing my own protest. I will not go anywhere that requires a mask, and I will NEVER show vax papers. I don't have a problem with the vax, I just won't ever show the papers. We must all take a stand now, and stop this, or there will be something else after this. How many men and women sacrificed and took a stand for this country by going to war? Being gone for months, years, on end, or even forever? I for one, am okay with being inconvenienced for a few hours, or by not flying at all until this stops! Let's Go Brandon! Let's Roll!
I have a flurry of travel ahead and numerous commercial pilot friends. They all will verify this. They are using their power, not only for themselves, but for us. Support them and re-learn to use your power, you have it too.
Alex, pay attention to what will happen in Italy the 15 October when the Covid certification to work will be made mandatory: in the port of Trieste, the worker said they will strike, the government tried to bribe them by giving free test in order to have a valid certification but they refused as they are opposite to Covid certification for any worker on Italy. Please notice that from the port of Trieste are carried all products destinated to Germany. Also in the military base of sigonella the air force will protest and about 18000 police officers will also protest as they are not vaccinated. The government are trying hard to blame neo-fascist movement but this time they step on a s*it bigger than them.
I’m flying today on southwest😬. I was going to write let’s go Brandon on the barf bag. Hope I don’t get stuck in my travels but wld be worth it to see Americans standing up for freedom!!
First rule of all modern warfare....control the skies.
Texans, we have an opportunity to get a law passed this week banning vaccine mandates. Special session ends October 20. Call your state house and senate representatives and urge them to support legislation banning all vaccine mandates in Texas. Look up your representatives by typing “who represents me in Texas” into Google
Huntsville, Alabama thrives on government work, direct and contract. There is a substantial movement underway here to resist and object to sir Biden's edict. Many young families.
I fly firefighting tankers and I would say that more than half of us are ready to walk if the mandate is imposed on us. I have already told my employer that I would not be “vaccinated” to fly in Australia this year after 6 years of aerial firefighting in Australia- this year they will get a newbie.
I have 25 years total experience and 20 working years left. I have to maintain a strict FAA medical every 6 months. No way am I going to take my chances with my heart or my blood and ruin my best working years.
God bless Airline Pilots for taking a stand. I with that we were as tightly connected as them.
Hope they will continue to stand no matter how uncomfortable it gets for all of us. Do we want a little discomfort now or to be forever controlled.
I didn't see this one coming, but maybe the airlines will be the ones who save us from these ridiculous/unethical/unlawful/illegal mandates! Kudos to the pilots for "speaking" for millions of us!!!! Thank you!
As a retired airline pilot, I STRONGLY SUPPORT the action these pilots are taking. Couldn’t be prouder of the courage they’re showing. I only hope they persevere until the mandate is completely lifted and don’t give up with a weak promise of “waivers for everyone.” Waivers can and have been rescinded. And, the feds will play hardball with that. They’ll change the rules to require a percentage of Vaxxed employees and waivers won’t count in meeting the minimum percentage. Mandates, and the thought process behind them must be crushed. These work actions are an incredible “first shot on the Lexington green” but are just the beginning of the war. Without mandates, no vaxx passport, without the passport, no route to the control the Cabal requires for their tyranny. They will not give up easily. Tell every pilot you know, and every one who knows a pilot that you support them. Having lived through many contract battles, the companies and the Feds will not rollover and play dead. The battle will get intense.
Great piece Alex and points out that force should always be a last resort. They are pushing a policy,apparently because Pfizer and Moderna now have billions to pour into bank accounts of members of congress( perish the thought) and with disregard for the facts…the vaccinated MAY have higher viral loads than the unvaccinated and DO spread the disease,even to other vaccinated who MAY have lower antibody levels and the risk of death is still incredibly overhyped. EARLY treatment with HCQ and Ivermectin,Zinc,Vit D(good to take daily) WILL help in forestalling a more serious outcome. I am a plastic surgeon,former vascular and trauma surgeon and,though it’s a small sample,have treated at least 20 with mild symptoms in the main( one was severely I’ll and with comorbidity) and NO ONE. Went to the hospital. There is a reason people are dying in hospitals and Inhave seen it locally. Many are not given therapeutics,most of which are quite safe and in many cases safer than the mRNA vaccines, but just symptomatic care…steroids and O2 and maybe Remdesivir,which allegedly shortens hospital stays by 5 days…it did in the case of my friend…he went to the morgue! I am appalled at the misinformation being dished out about therapeutics by social media who have,I’m sure, killed many who may have accepted treatment with those meds had they NOT read Facebook. Even our “distinguished” surgeon general,Vivek Murthy has claimed ,against recent reports,that vaccine levels of antibodies are higher than natural disease acquired immunity! What a liar.
If I could thank the pilots I would. Clearly, they do have leverage, unlike most of us.
As a B787 captain with 33 years and Air Force veteran, who may get fired because of this ridiculous mandate, I thank you!!!
I'm asking in ignorance,with a wish to become educated: is this use ofvthe emergency channel not unlike us flying our country's flag upside-down??
Emergency- the Republic is in Distress
I am so thankful for you pilots who have taken this upon your shoulders and who also write in to give insight and - dare I say?? Hope.
PILOTS— I want all commercial and military pilots to know this: You are leaders to us now —ignited by this mandate issue —to what is actually a worldwide revolt against tyranny, a higher cause than just the mandates. PLEASE continue to stand against this (and also don’t get vaxxed—for your own safety). To your huge and significant ACTION (no longer just words; you’re putting words into action), my contribution will be “to be OK” with having flight delays and cancellations to my scheduled family events so that the MESSAGE you're sending will have major impact around the world. The domino-effect of no pilots would be incredible if all pilots for all airlines, as well as our military pilots, would band together in this, as a collective voice, a collective action, to stand up for freedom. Your actions would ripple around the world. I will be “OK” that this will be more than very uncomfortable for all of us if this happens (the temporary halting of many systems, businesses, supply-chains, etc.). Not getting to my two family weddings and one funeral memorial scheduled this fall and winter (all out of state, with reservations already made to fly)— missing those events for this higher cause will be my worthwhile contribution to the greater cause. Patriots NEED LARGE NUMBERS STANDING in MASS! We haven’t known how to do this in impactful numbers, because we're not destructive “rioter” types, as a general rule. Looks like you pilots are willing to step up for all of us. And we will be behind you! 🇺🇸🙏
My "I will not comply" story for the day. Had an appointment with a new dentist this morning and walked in without a mask (of course). The receptionist was not wearing one but told me I would have to put one on to walk down the hall. I explained I do not wear them for health reasons and said I'd be happy to fill out the paperwork in the car and they could call me in when they were ready as my previous dentist does. I got the "keeping everyone safe" song and dance and Covid yada yada and only rolled my eyes once.
As I'm sitting in the car filling out the paperwork, she comes out with a mask on! and tells me that the dentist has never had anyone "refuse to put a mask on" and "she has rules, this is a medical practice" and "do you have a medical exemption signed by a doctor" and "we're not starting off on the right foot, so she says it would be best if she not treat you."
It appears I was saved from the aggravation of working with another practitioner living in a delusional psychosis.
I called another dental office in our plan, explained the situation, they made an appointment for me and told me I could wait in my car until they called me in.
Unmasked, unafraid and non-compliant!
Pilots are also at higher risk of blood clots even before the shot - just part of the job, so ya I fully understand them not wanting a higher risk introduced
Excellent - and excellent interview with Rogan. Everyone on your Substack who hasn't watched it will enjoy it.
I totally support the pilots and of course us travelers. The Biden Admin won’t let up however, it’s up to the “ people” to push back.
Alex the trucking companies are facing similar sick outs! There are no news outlets letting that seep out!
Pilots do not want blood clots in the brain, or heart attacks, just like the rest of us. But they are also, I feel sure, unwilling to kill several hundred passengers if their aircraft goes down. No other profession holds so many lives in its hands at one moment in time.
Does this have to happen before the madness ends?
I was in the airline industry for 40 years. You do not force pilots into anything they are not agreeable to. They will hold the line and then some. Let's go Brandon.
Just need some a few more months of key people in key industries in this country to refuse the vaccine and the house of cards that is the mandate falls apart. Could be pilots, could be airline mechanics, air traffic controllers, could be truck drivers, train operators, longshormen, nurses, doctors, utility workers, sanitation workers etc.
The pilots are in a strong position. There is a shortage of pilots in this country. If lots of pilots refuse to get vaccinated and then get laid off they would be a large reduction in flights flown. My husband is a corporate pilot and their crew refused to get vaccinated figuring if they fired them the plane wouldn't fly.
As a physician at a hospital in Michigan, we had a mandate, but most figured out the religious exemption or told to put in for it by superiors …. Otherwise not enough doctors and nurses to care for patients and teach the residents!! Btw… I have antibodies and never got the shot, nor have been sick! …. It must have been the N95 this hospital never gave me. 😉
Excellent reporting as always. I worry about you working 24/7, but not enough to stop reading; I'm selfish that way. Take care patriot,and Let's go Brandon.
Pilots have to walk a fine line so AA and SW don't sue them for a job action! That being said, it can be done! An ever grateful nation will look back and honor these men and women who stood up to tyranny!! The airlines known they can't afford to lose 20% of their pilots!! Bankruptcy anyone?
Hey Alex, any chance you can address the issue of the horrible and useless PCR nasopharyngeal swabs tests? The swabs are treated with EO/ethyl oxide, a known carcinogen. And it’s one thing to do those once a year, but 2x/week as required by employers is insane- it’s painful/highly uncomfortable, it’s known to be as useful as tossing a coin in the air in terms of lack of reliability, and they are PRICEY! I suspect that since they run about $200-$300 per test, that’s why they’re insisting on using them, as they want to quickly transfer money away from the non-compliant folks who refuse to vaxx ourselves. I think there’s quite a bit of CONTRACT CORRUPTION going on. Why else do most people not even know about SALIVA TESTING offered by the likes of Saliva Direct at Yale - your alma mater! Please look into this! Saliva testing only costs $80 per test, it’s more reliable than nasopharyngeal and less invasive. Maybe that’s why the powers that be are not giving us that option, because they want to make it as PAINFUL BOTH PHYSICALLY AND FINANCIALLY for us. It’s meant to be PUNISHMENT for not kneeling before them. Please look into this and see whether the airlines will accept saliva testing for travelers and employees alike. Thank you for being a beacon of hope in the darkness, Alex. May God protect you and your family now and always! All the best, a follower
A HUGE sincere thank you to those pilots who have stood up for our civil liberties. Those of us who are handtied and have no union to fight for us really appreciate you!
Has anybody asked these CEO's if they have bothered to look at the amount of heart problems being caused by these jabs? As a pilot you have to take a special physical yearly, you can't even fly if you have sleep apnea. Your career will be over if you develop a heart problem.
Alex - Delta hasn’t mandated the vaccine but they have essentially forced their employees anyway. Anyone not vaxed has a $200 health insurance surcharge. If you’re unvaxed and on the corporate campus without a mask they will terminate you.
Delta’s CEO Ed Bastion is a huge mask, BLM, vaccine cheerleader. Since he’s come in as CEO the corporate culture has changed for the worse.
FINALLY. As a, Veteran, and a retired pilot, corporate GV not airline, I congratulate and thank the Airline Pilots who are standing up for not just themselves but for all Americans. The destruction to our Country , our economy, and our God given Constitutional Rights being wrought by this administration is insidious and long term. Their willingness to show what the unchecked edicts of government will do is to be commended. Airline travel disruptions are immediately noticeable to the general public, unlike what these vax mandates are doing stealthily to Health Care and Logistics. Hand in there!!!
I support the pilots even though my husband and I are holding tickets to fly to our 25th wedding anniversary honeymoon. I support them holding the line.
“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Benjamin Franklyn
I refuse to fly until all Covid restrictions are removed. No mask mandates. No vaccine mandates. Nothing.
I haven't flow in two years, and I'm perfectly happy to never fly again if we continue to live in this clown world.
I hope the pilots don't ask for exemptions. Rather I hope those that don't want the vaccine, just say no. Saying "no" is what will help employees across the country. Exemptions will be much more quiet and won't have the necessary impact.
I want to say THANK YOU to the Pilots standing up for all Americans Freedom! You are esteemed and brave! God Bless 🙏🙏❤️❤️❤️
Pilots. You are our first line of defense against this loss of freedom. Please continue and expand this action. We need you.
I have been a loyal Delta customer for years. I will continue to be as long as they don't impose mandates on their employees. If they flinch, then I guess my travel will be limited to places that I can drive to comfortably for the foreseeable future.
Am flying to Florida next week, on Southwest. If pilots doing a sick-out cause me a delay, I'll happily by them dinner or lunch or whatever. My inconvenience is a small matter in exchange for fighting for our inalienable rights. Keep it up, pilots - we support you.
Thanks for a great laugh. I'm totally fine with my upcoming trip to AZ being interrupted or cancelled in support of these heroes.
Let’s Go Brandon. Let’s Roll!
Thanks for sharing these insider details! However, Delta has been talking about their employee vaccine mandate for months. They had one in place. I fly frequently and made note of the airlines I would no longer support due to employee mandates. Maybe, they decided to quietly lift the mandate at some point. Hopefully, the employees and pilots at all airlines continue to push back on this. I'm ok with not being able to fly for a while until they stop with this mandate.
My husband is a SW pilot. This goes WAY beyond vax mandates, all the way back to March 2020 when the media/public health/government consortium decided to make Covid Terror the #1 priority for the foreseeable future. Imagine flying 4 days without access to food because (depending on the state) all the airport venues and restaurants have been shut down. (One can't live on granola bars...) Imagine not knowing if you had a hotel bed after flying all day. Imagine wearing a useless mask for 14 hours a day. Imagine dealing with all this crap for 19 months with no end in sight. My husband's employer might have some culpability but I believe most of the blame falls on the aforementioned entities. From my view, they are delighting in foisting unhelpful and decisive mandates upon the rest of us, regardless of the havoc that ensues.
I was one of the many who was 'inconvenienced' travellers over the weekend while on a University tour in Texas with my oldest daughter. Was it annoying; yes. Was it long; yes. Was it worth it; YES! We were IN Texas in the first place because all the woke (bought for, paid for, sponsored by... insert your corporation/government of choice) woke Universities across most of the country are insisting students get 'jabbed' for admission acceptance. Easy targets. Low hanging fruit. THANK GOD my kids can see the woods through the trees. Our bodies. Our choice. Virus gonna virus and Pilots gonna pilot (or not...) Your strength is our strength. United we stand. Let's go Brandon!
121.5 is rarely silent. Someone will say meow usually at least once every 15 minutes. I did hear one “let’s go Brandon” last night. It was great. What needs to happen is when we board airliners and they start badgering us with the mask announcements is to start the chant up then.