As someone who’s looking forward to traveling by air again, I wholeheartedly concur with this piece by Juliette Kayyem in The Atlantic endorsing a law allowing only vaccinated people on domestic flights:
Flying is not a right, and the case for restricting it to vaccinated people is straightforward: The federal government is the sole entity that can regulate the terms and conditions of airline safety. And although air-filtration systems and mask requirements make transmission of the coronavirus unlikely during any given passenger flight, infected people can spread it when they leave the airport and take off their mask. The whole point of international-travel bans is to curb infections in the destination country; to protect itself, the United States still has many such restrictions in place. Beyond limiting the virus’s flow from hot spots to the rest of the country, allowing only vaccinated people on domestic flights will change minds, too…
The public debate about making vaccination a precondition for travel, employment, and other activities has described this approach as vaccine mandates, a term that, to conservative critics, suggests that unvaccinated people are being ordered around arbitrarily. What is actually going on, mostly, is that institutions are shifting burdens to unvaccinated people—denying them access to certain spaces, requiring them to take regular COVID-19 tests, charging them for the cost of that testing—rather than imposing greater burdens on everyone. Americans still have a choice to go unvaccinated, but that means giving up on certain societal benefits. Nobody has a constitutional right to attend The Lion King on Broadway or work at Disney or Walmart. Employers and entertainment venues are realizing that they can operate more easily without the hassle of planning around unvaccinated employees and customers. Amid a global health crisis, people who defy public-health guidance are not, and do not deserve to be, a protected class.
For the privilege of flying, Americans already give up a lot: We disclose our personal information, toss our water bottles, extinguish our cigarette butts, and lock our guns in checked luggage. For vaccinated people, having to show proof of vaccination when flying would be a minor inconvenience.