David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 4th Week Of January 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.
Signs – not the hang on the wall kind, but the predicting the future kind – are sometimes hard to see. As my personal experience with the COVID19 pandemic approaches the eleven month mark I’m finally seeing the earliest stages of signs that we may finally be coming out of it.
Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s not over – not by a long-shot. We are generally at the peaks of all the measures of transmission and infection, and the USA has just passed the four-hundred-thousand mark of people we’ve lost to this horrific tragedy. Staggeringly, the US is currently at about four thousand COVID related deaths per day. However, as a person who has been telling people for about eleven months that they need to stop assuming that this will be over quickly, I can honestly report that I now see signs of it eventually coming to an end sometime this year. Let me explain why:
• It’s been obvious (at least to me) that airline travel would never get back to past levels without requiring testing of passengers and crew. We’re now at the point where international governments and airlines both realize that. The new strains coming out of Europe have moved the US to demand that only passengers who have tested negative can fly. Currently that’s via a very flawed process, but there are now reports of simple, instant tests that are just about available. This is how flying will return – at least at first. Make it through security, pass an instant COVID test, and then board the plane. It’s inevitable.
• There’s new, high-level support for sanity in transmission prevention. Without getting into politics (as a rule) the new people leading the US government are not in denial about the pandemic. They have already moved to require masks at all government facilities and for all interstate travel. Masks aren’t a perfect solution, but they are a common-sense measure to drastically reduce virus transmission levels. N95 / KN95 masks can also help prevent the wearer from contracting the virus. Personally, with all the new strains coming to light, I’ve taken to wearing a KN95 mask (dozens of choices easily available from Amazon) with a surgical-mask over it. I’ve given up my cloth mask to gain a greater degree of protection. In addition, (again trying to avoid politics) the idiots that tried to overthrow the US government a few weeks ago were generally too stupid to wear masks, and as they are easily being identified, they are being added to the US no-fly list. The self-selection will mean less of the adamant anti-mask people will be flying, and, sadly, the Darwinism of it all means more of them will contract the virus.
• Vaccines are slowly (far too slowly) getting into people’s arms. Much logistical work needs to be done to improve the process, but it is really happening. (As you read this I will have hopefully received the first dose of the Moderna Vaccine here in New Jersey.) I realize the long-term effects of the vaccine are not known, and that frightens me a little, but the long-term effects of COVID19 are also not known – but have data coming out that people who have survived it are struggling with all sorts of health issues. I feel very lucky to be getting the shot.
Putting all of the above together, I think my prior predictions about when we’ll finally come out of this crisis are close to accurate. By late summer (July / August) we’ll begin to see a resurgence of leisure travel / air travel. It will surely be a ramp-up and not a switch-on, but that seems just about correct. I’m hopeful that business travel will then follow-on shortly afterward – with that ramp starting sometime this autumn. Business travel will however be a steeper ramp, as approvals to begin spending money on travel again will face additional checks within organizations. Is it really safe? Is the organization willing to again take-on that expense? Are the mid and lower-level employees who were able to receive permission to travel to industry events going to be allowed to go again? Are the events themselves still around or have their owners had to shut-down?
Please remember – none of the above are reasons to drop our guard. In fact, with the new strains being detected, it’s appropriate to be as cautious as we’ve ever been: Spray-down all deliveries with alcohol, wear plastic gloves when grocery shopping, stay-away from friends and relatives (at least until all have been vaccinated) and wear those freaking masks...
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.