David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 1st Week Of July
In 2014 I was voted by USA Today readers as one of the top ten business travel bloggers in the USA. Now mind you, I turned out to be number ten on the list of ten, but I did make it on (with my thanks to all those who voted.) Now that we’re all stuck at home and not traveling, I had to think about what to do with my blogs. I could stop writing them entirely – waiting till we all get through the current COVID19 pandemic / crisis. I could wax nostalgic and/or complain about past trips. Or, I could focus all of my efforts on my day job – growing the use of collaboration technologies – especially in light of how many people are now forced to use those tools for the first time. In reflecting upon those choices, what I decided to do is compile an ongoing list of observations during the crisis. Some of these may amuse, some may inform, some may sadden and others may help. My goal will be for you to have seen something in a different light than you did before you stopped to read the blog. I was going to apologize for how disjointed these thoughts may seem when put together, but then it dawned on me that feeling disjointed is our new normal – at least for a little while.
As the month of July approaches and the US is still squarely in the middle of the COVID19 pandemic I’ve begun to realize how much this year will be different from those of the past. This is the first time in about thirty years where I haven’t planned a summer vacation of any kind. Between the loss of business travel (as all of the conferences I usually attend have been cancelled) and no plans for leisure travel, it’s likely going to be long summer and fall. Maybe, if the infection levels ever diminish and properties get their act together on how to disinfect rooms my wife and I may go for an overnight stay by car somewhere, but I haven’t seen anything yet that is remotely believable from the hotel companies about really disinfecting rooms – so it’s doubtful. On the bright side, I’ve needed minor surgery on my toes for decades but never had the chance to do it because of my heavy travel schedule. This will be the year to finally un-hammer my pinky toes. I suppose that’s karma.
In the category of “sure, now you do it…when I’m not traveling” JetBlue has FINALLY decided to provide coast to coast service from my local EWR-Newark airport. This move is long overdue and will hopefully begin to transform the monopoly that the pitiful United has on those routes. For those of you who haven’t followed JetBlue closely, it was originally launched as a customer-experience-first airline, until its bean-counters discovered they didn’t need to be the great airline that they were in order to compete in today’s market (but rather could just suck a little less to compete.) Still, sucking a little less is a major step up from United. As a lifetime million miler on United I’ve been as neglected and taken for granted as any airline customer ever– really hammering home the death of airline loyalty. What do I give up if I book JetBlue to LAS or SFO instead of United? I give up the club access that has been awful, overcrowded and overpriced. I give up free bag checking that I don’t do. I give up free access to Economy Plus – which is the same room that I get as standard on JetBlue. I give up access to Mileage Plus mile collecting and awards – which I already gave up after the last dozen devaluations of earnings and awards. So…basically…nothing. My only hope is that JetBlue will stay with these routes for long enough to wait-out COVID19 when people will start flying again. Maybe United will actually make improvements to take EWR hub captives less for granted, but I doubt it. United only does the right thing as a last resort – when all other options have been exhausted – so my assumption is they are simply going to hope for the opposite of what I’m hoping for – that JetBlue will give up on EWR as COVID19 drags-on.
Speaking of COVID19 dragging on, the Covidiots that want the pandemic to be over and have been ignoring the needed safety protocols of masks, distancing, hand-washing, etc., have been causing huge increases in infections in many areas of the US. This article from NBC has a good interactive chart that you can sort by 1, 2 and 3 week change percentages (and other categories) to prove the point.
When those of us that survive this pandemic look-back on these times in the history books, the politicizing of safety will clearly be one of the key issues that caused many more deaths and illnesses than necessary. Who’d have thought that we here in the New York, New Jersey area would turn out to be one of the safest communities just three months into the Pandemic. There are a lot of ifs to look back upon here. If we had taken this seriously earlier, if we had leaders that set an example with safety, if we had locked-down (without debate) sooner and stayed home a bit longer – we’d all have suffered much less than we inevitably will. For those of you that believe that the huge increase in infection numbers reported is because of increased testing and not increased infections, just look at hospitalizations. Better testing / reporting doesn’t account for nearly full hospitals / ICUs. Please remember that facts and opinions are two different things.
As I write this we are getting news that some bastardized version of Baseball will be happening by the end of July. I suppose that’s good news – as it will give everyone some needed distraction and/or entertainment – but what will it look like in the history books? After an Astros-Asterisks season due to cheating, we’ll have a Coronavirus-Asterisks season with rule changes, players risking infections that may shorten their careers, and who knows what else. I wonder if this is another case of looking for a quick exit to a longer term issue that will bite us back in the end.
As always, please feel free to write to me with comments or items I should add to a future Not Traveling blog (or if you just need someone to write to.) Stay safe, be well, hug those you’re sheltering with (but no one else) and do your best to stay positive. We’re going to be in this for a long while.
This article was written by David Danto and contains solely his own, personal opinions.
All image and links provided above as reference under prevailing fair use statutes.