David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 2nd Week Of March 2021
David Danto’s ongoing list of disjointed and occasionally random observations and thoughts as we wait-out the pandemic – mostly NOT traveling like we used to.
This is the blog I’ve been anticipating and dreading at the same time. For me – a million-miler and Diamond/Platinum/tippy-top level holder in many travel programs, it’s now been one year since my last flight / business trip. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve though back to that last trip in March of 2020 and thought “is this really the last one? The one that I want to go out on?”
The trip was for a meeting of some of my firm’s best clients. They were to visit our offices near Austin, Texas – so AUS was the destination. The flight down was on a dreaded ERJ, the return on a mainline aircraft. One of the big hotel chains decided to cancel our group reservations for no reason at the last minute (no I haven’t forgotten Westin at The Domain) so we switched to a local, non-chain boutique hotel – The Lone Star Court. Memories from that property still stand out – the constant smell of wood-burning fireplaces; the retro, full-size refrigerators in every room; the multiple, wrap-around parking spots; the fact that my stay was two-thirds over before I realized there was a switch for the ceiling light fixture and that it worked. It wasn’t a bad hotel experience, but it was an odd one.
My meals and entertainment while away were also eclectic and covered a wide range. The informal arrival dinner was at the local Dave & Busters. The formal dinners were at much more elegant restaurants. (While the dinner at the downtown steakhouse was awesome, my guests and the couple of spouses that tagged along loved the Dave & Busters play cards that came with their meals, and we spent at least an hour in their game room after eating. The highlight of the trips entertainment was a barge trip under the Congress Avenue Bridge to watch hundreds of bats flying out in the evening. Little did we realize about a year ago the significant impact those little rodents would have on our lives going forward – being the likely culprit for the new Coronavirus that was being discussed at the time.
My only indication that there was anything wrong with the world was when I ran out of hand sanitizer in the little bottle I ALWAYS carried with me to clean my hands and around the seating areas on an airplane. When I went to buy some more, no one had any – CVS, Walmart, etc. – all with all empty shelves. I was smart enough and lucky enough to go into a Bath and Body Works store and buy some small bottles of stinky-perfumed sanitizer (some of which I still have to this day.)
Austin-Bergstrom airport is far from the worst airport I’ve ever been in, but it’s far from the best as well. It did have a United Club – which is not common outside of a major hub. Again here, having allowed my club membership to expire and finally realizing the lack of value the latest clubs were providing, it is likely going to be the last club I will ever have visited.
Reflecting on that whole trip, and the hundreds I’d taken prior to it, it’s weird to ponder that for someone who has traveled as much as I have, that Austin could have been the possible swan-song.
I mean – for someone who has spent as much time as I have in Las Vegas – that’d have been the best odds to be the last (if one were to have made a wager in advance.) But I missed that by two (Vegas for CES in January, then Amsterdam for ISE in February, then Austin.)
That brings us to today of course. My next booked trip is in August (of course to Las Vegas) but I suspect I’ll be getting on a plane well before then. I’m now fully vaccinated and that seems to be acting as a travel aphrodisiac for the baby-boomers that received it. I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it is undeniable.
If you’d have asked me before the pandemic if I EVER would have taken a year off of flying, I’d have said you were crazy.
Welcome to our new crazy world.
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 while longer.
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.
The Explanation for my Not Traveling blogs: 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.