David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 2nd 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 I write this the July 4th / US Independence day holiday weekend is approaching. (I write these blogs in advance for the following week.) In past years I’ve almost always traveled over this holiday – to Vegas to watch the fireworks on the strip…to the Jersey Shore to enjoy the activities…to many other quiet or bustling destinations. Not this year. COVID19 has limited the things that are even open, and those available choices are not safe enough in my opinion. My family and I will be home, continuing to do work around the house, watching TV, listening to music and counting our blessings, fully aware that many others are having a much, much worse experience of the pandemic than we are. If being bored is the worst thing that happens to us during this crisis then we’re very lucky. I won’t do things that are risky just because I’m stir-crazy. That would make me just plain crazy – and that’s what many Covidiots are.
Speaking of crazy Covidiots, the US airline industry has decided that it’s appropriate for them to fill their aircrafts to capacity now. Is there a legitimate reason for this? No, the virus still has no vaccine; no, keeping some social-distance from other people is still part of the CDC guidelines; no, the occurrence of the virus has not diminished in the US (it is in fact at the highest peak we’ve ever seen.) Then the explanation for packing people into airplanes like sardines is purely greed – the raison d'etre of the entire airline industry. They’ve claimed that their precautions are more than enough to ensure the safety of their passengers, despite members of congress and Dr. Fauci shaking their heads at the decision. If this is a surprise to you then you’ve not been paying attention to this industry for very long. I don’t believe a single thing told to me by US airline management and their industry association. If you want to convince me that flying in the center seats of a packed airplane for 3-6 hours with only a cloth mask to protect you is actually safe then I’d need to see video of airline CEO’s doing it. I know they have the people and technology to make such a video – here’s a video of United’s CEO walking through an airport explaining the value of a mask. Keep rolling next time. Let me see him (and his family) board and fly on one of his packed airplanes in the center seats. If he or his peers don’t do that you can bet your house that they’re just lying again.
As I’ve said over and over in these not traveling blogs, we’re not near the end of this crisis in the US, and we’re not even at the end of the beginning. As I write this, the number of new US cases in one day peaked over 50K for the first time. What this means is that all the suffering we did to lock-down the country starting in March was totally and completely wasted by states that opened-up too early. Having individual states set their own guidelines was as dumb as it would be if each state had to raise their own army to fight in a war. The crisis required national guidelines and strong national leadership – something that we definitely don’t have right now. Or, to put it more simply – as it is being explained in internet memes:
This weekend you will be able to watch a movie of the Broadway production of Hamilton on the Disney+ service. This was another film that was intended for theatrical release that instead went direct to home viewing because of the pandemic. You can expect this to happen more and more in the future. The economic model of movie theaters is failing. When the experience can be duplicated at home with modern, large, HD screens and surround sound systems the theaters will need to vastly improve the movie going experience to stay in business in the future. $$ seats, $$ popcorn and shrinking screens will not cut it in the future. I hope an improved experience is something the industry is working on, because if it’s not then they’re in big trouble.
Speaking of direct-to-home video, HBO recently launched its new streaming service HBO-Max. It has all of HBO’s content as well as some original programming and exclusive access to classic shows (such as The Big Bang Theory, Friends and more.) The good news is if you subscribe to HBO on cable-TV you probably can get HBO-Max for free. The bad news is that you can’t get it on Amazon Fire or Roku – which represents more than 70% of streaming content viewers. HBO has not yet made distribution agreements with those two giants. Also in the bad news category, HBO is doing away with their HBO-Go service (that is available on Amazon and Roku) at the end of July. If you want access to this content you can either watch it on a PC, or do what I did and permanently connect a PC to your TV / home entertainment center. There are just too many internet delivered programs, Zoom calls, YouTube events and other things to not have a computer available to your TV going forward. Still, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that HBO will eventually make deals with Amazon and Roku to resolve this issue.
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.