Airlines' Request to Reduce Covid Quarantine Time Is the ‘Wrong Move,' Flight Attendants Union Says

Chip Somodevilla | Pool | Reuters
  • Flight attendants union president said Delta's request to roll back quarantine measures was the "wrong move."
  • The CDC advises isolation for 10 days after a positive test but Delta wants that cut in half.
  • CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said omicron now accounts for 90% of all Covid cases in the U.S.

The president of the country's largest flight attendants union called a request by Delta Air Lines for federal health officials to reduce the recommended quarantine time for breakthrough Covid cases the "wrong move."

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" on Wednesday night that a decision like this, "may put flight attendants in a position to be forced to come back before they feel better." Right now, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises isolation for 10 days after a positive test, even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted.

The AFA represents some 50,000 flight attendants across more than a dozen airlines, including United, Spirit and Frontier. Delta's flight attendants are not unionized but the AFA began an organizing drive there two years ago.

On Tuesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian wrote to CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urging the agency to cut that time in half to just five days, saying the longer quarantine time could hurt the airline's operations. JetBlue Airways CEO Robin Hayes followed with a similar request to the CDC on Wednesday.

The requests come as Covid cases are spiking, mostly due to the omicron variant. Walensky said Wednesday omicron now accounts for 90% of all cases in the U.S.  

Nelson said the new variant is, "really concerning." She said the omicron spike is a worry for flight attendants, "not only for our health but also the conditions at work."

In response to a request for comment, Delta said the letter to the CDC, "comes after analysis by medical experts of data that indicates the Omicron variant has a shorter incubation and infectious period among those who are fully vaccinated against the virus."

The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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