United Airlines and the Issue of COVID-19 Vaccination

Subject: Employee Management
Pages: 3
Words: 860
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: Master


It is important to note the pandemic’s most significant impact was on airline companies. The given assessment will primarily focus on United Airlines and its decisions in regard to mandating the COVID-19 vaccine to all of its employees. The subject is a controversial and complex one since there is a major split between airlines regards to making vaccination a requirement or an option. The company provides commercial flight transportation services for people, and it was founded in 1926 in conjunction with a multitude of airlines during this period, which means it has been in business for more than a century. United Airlines is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and has eight major hubs, and the current CEO of the company is Scott Kirby. The permission for the case assessment of United Airlines was granted.

Statement of Scope


The problem of interest for the assessment and case analysis is COVID-19 vaccine mandates at United Airlines, which is a controversial and complex topic, where many other airline companies stand either for or against such management decisions. The company is a relevant and plausible choice for the discussion since it made vaccinations mandatory for all of its 67,000 U.S. employees (Sider, 2021). It is stated that “airlines including United have so far tried to encourage workers to be vaccinated voluntarily, with incentives such as bonus pay or extra vacation” (Sider, 2021, para. 2). In other words, one of the largest airlines in the United States, the company’s stance on the issue is direct and one-sided. The topics of the research will primarily focus on ethical decision-making and organizational safety, especially during the pandemic.

Level of Data Accessibility

Data accessibility can be categorized as available since the airline’s stance on the issue of mandatory vaccination is clear. In addition, the ethical implications of making vaccination a requirement is well-studied due to the topic being a subject of active debates even prior to COVID-19. The requirements needed will include a search for data on the most relevant cases where an organization’s decision to make vaccines mandatory for its workers is evaluated under ethical principles. However, the main risk one might encounter when researching such a sensitive issue is the lack of directly related evidence for corporate or enterprise-based vaccine mandates under a global pandemic on a scale that did not take place before. Therefore, the literature might be scarce for the specific situation being analyzed by the assessment.

Demonstration of Outcomes

The selected company and case will enable a demonstration of leadership abilities in all six MBA program outcomes. Firstly, the case will require an application of foundational knowledge with a degree of understanding of key business processes and systems. United Airlines’ mandate in regard to vaccination among its employees is an example of two theories. These are ethical frameworks of utilitarianism and deontology applied in a business setting. For example, the management made a strategic decision to prioritize safety over employees’ right to choose, where ends justify the means, which is the foundation of deontological decision-making. In addition, a utilitarian approach can also be observed since there are more customers than employees, and the former will benefit from interacting only with vaccinated workers.

Secondly, the outcome of information integration is manifested in combining ethical knowledge with business operations, especially safety and public image. United Airlines acknowledges the risk of forcing employees to vaccinate, which can generate backlash from inside and outside. However, the company also operates under the previously mentioned ethical frameworks. Another factor is a customer appeal generated from fully vaccinated personnel. Thirdly, the outcome of a critical and analytical approach will be at the center of the issue assessment since there is a need for vaccine efficacy justification and ethical implications of imposing mandates upon workers. Fourthly, the case requires an application of sustainable and strategic measures, where the current approach can be criticized for its lack of future planning. Prioritizing key objectives and goals of the company, such as employee encouragement and performance, can be in conflict.

Fifthly, the outcome of collaboration and leadership for the diverse environment is highly demonstrative through the case. United Airlines’ approach is questionable in regard to collaboration and cooperation. Research suggests that “in the long run, use of soft power rather than a dogmatic approach without high-level supporting evidence is more likely to result in a workforce with a greater likelihood of compliance with other behaviorally based infection prevention interventions” (Edmond, 2019, p. 4). The strategies can be improved through the establishment of proper incentives and positive reinforcement. Lastly, the basis of the case is rooted in integrating key principles of ethics into a business decision. There are major ethical implications for forcing employees to get vaccinated. These might include violation of one’s freedom of expression and choice.


In conclusion, the selected problem is recently United Airlines’ strategic decision to mandate vaccinations among its employees. The topic is a controversial one since there are two opposite stances among major airlines of the United States, where some view safety as more important than employees’ right to choose, and others prioritize safety over these freedoms since airports are critical points of viral infections and spread.


Edmond, M. B. (2019). Mandatory flu vaccine for healthcare workers: Not worthwhile. Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 6(4), 1-5. Web.

Sider, A. (2021). United Airlines to require all U.S. employees be vaccinated against Covid-19. The Wall Street Journal. Web.