David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 1st Week Of October
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.
It’s now October…which should give most of us pause. I think back to when I had flown to Austin for a small company meeting during the first week of March. For many years I carried a small bottle of Purell hand sanitizer when traveling, and I was running out (because of using it so much more.) I went around Austin to buy a replacement, and I couldn’t find any. Walmart, CVS, supermarkets, etc. – they were all sold out of all brands of hand sanitizer. (I wound-up being lucky enough to buy some at Bath & Body Works and had to pick if I wanted to smell similar to strawberry pound cake or fresh lavender - but that’s not my point.) It was that first week of March when I realized that something was very different about this business trip. I didn’t for the life of me believe that it would be my last flight for what is now eight months and counting.
Part of the reason people aren’t traveling is clearly because they fear going out in public during a deadly pandemic, and part of it is surely because many places to go and things to do have now been closed for some time. However, in looking for the reasons for little to no traveling, we must acknowledge that the US airline industry is one of the most hated and least trusted sectors that people interact with. Passengers know airlines have lied to them about us asking for less room, less service, service reductions, and they know they’ve been lied to about delays, service interruptions and loyalty programs. Now that the result of airline management lies – this time about the safety of flight during a pandemic – might be risking one’s life, many people that might otherwise take a chance on traveling have still continued to avoid it. It’s important to understand that the past, overwhelmingly dishonorable behavior of the airline industry has itself led to the crisis that they find themselves in today.
I mention all this because it’s just past October 1st – the last day that US airlines had promised to keep their employees on the payroll in order to collect government bailout money. There has been some chatter about a new bailout or extension, but one is not imminent. Expect to begin to see the layoff announcements from the airlines. American Airlines has already made their announcement and the other airlines will soon follow.
Yes, Americans should call their Senators and Congressmen & women and tell them how they feel about the Supreme Court vacancy, about aid to families on unemployment and other stimulus measures, and anything else that is truly important to people and their families, but do take a few minutes to tell them NOT to give another bag of cash with no strings to the airlines. Let them give the money to the furloughed airline employees who surely deserve it, but not to the airline management and C-Suite leadership that turned an essential, enjoyed service industry into a despised, untrusted, passenger-unfriendly industry – and one that deserves to fail from its own mistakes. It’s time for these companies to suffer the results of their actions and for new leadership to take-over and restore it to the glory it once had.
Changing the subject, in case you didn’t notice, the Boeing 737Max had one of its test flights last week as part of the process of recertification. Getting this jinxed, poorly planned aircraft ready to fly at this point in time is like working to recertify a fire engine after all the houses in the world have already burned down – yes, it may be a good idea to have it ready for the future, but it’s not in the top ten (or top hundred) of what we need to be focusing on right now. There is no need to have more planes available when the ones we already have are not needed, not flying, and likely won’t be for a long time to come.
Before I close this week’s Not Traveling Blog, I wanted to acknowledge the many readers of my blogs that have taken the time to write to me and give me their thoughts. The email topics have included my comments on how lousy Major League Baseball has become, healthy discussion and debate about my thoughts on COVID19, on bailing out the airlines, and just simply sending words of appreciation for some of the work. It’s unfortunately too easy for people like me who write these things to forget that there are real people reading them. Keeping me honest, debating my points, asking for assistance or advice and simply just saying ‘hi’ is a cherished response to my efforts. Thank you. As the ‘sticky’ paragraph below says, feel free to keep writing for any reason.
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.