David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
NOT Traveling Blog, 4th Week Of October 2020
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.
There was an interesting study released last week that showed how safe airline travel was in the era of COVID19. The US Department of Defense worked with ‘researchers’ and the ‘U.S. Transportation Command,’ and concluded that “within the scope of the test, the results showed an overall low exposure risk from aerosolized pathogens like covid-19 on these aircraft…”
Now nobody wants to restart normal traveling and flying habits more than I do. (There are probably plenty of people who want to as much as I do, but none more.) While this is an encouraging study, when one peels the onion on it a bit, it comes-off as a clearly biased attempt to get more people to fly, not a true scientific research experiment.
Clearly, the test conditions were ridiculous. They placed test receptacles in some seats in the aircraft, then placed “a mannequin expelling simulated virus particles” in other seats – and then put a mask on it. This process proved that if everyone on the plane wears a mask all the time, and everyone stays in their seats all the time, then any virus particles that do make it into the cabin’s air supply are removed by the aircraft filtration system. That’s good to know, except it’s not a realistic simulation of a flight. In the real world people remove their masks to eat and drink; people get up from their seats to line-up at the restrooms; people actually have to board the flight – walking in the aisle(s); people retrieve things out of the overhead bins; and on and on and on. Ask yourself this question: if the researchers went to all this trouble to do this test – having the gas receptacles in place, having a test ‘transmitter’ and a substance that could mimic the aerosol virus spread, having a working aircraft with a fully running air filtration system set-up, etc. – how hard would it have been to put the mannequin in front of the restroom door for a while? How hard would it have been to remove the mask from the mannequin for a couple of minutes? How hard would it have been to have the mannequin positioned over the seat with the receptacle, simulating a person putting their bag in the overhead bin? Of course, adding these few scenarios to an already running test would not have been hard at all – yet they were not done. The only reasonable conclusion one can make when looking at this omission is that they didn’t want to have the answers to those other questions. They wanted to have a study released that glossed-over its ‘limitations’ so that they could say the “results were encouraging” even though not conclusive by a long shot. Sadly, in this era of science being pushed aside for politics and ‘alternate facts’ one has to take such studies with a huge helping of skepticism.
As I’ve said before, if the airlines want to convince us that it’s safe to fly again, there are concrete steps that they’ll have to take to do that:
· Every passenger and crewmember needs to be tested for COVID19 at the airport before boarding, and those that test positive need to be barred from flying.
· Every passenger and crewmember needs to wear masks on board at all times.
· The airline CEO / President and his family needs to show me video of them boarding and flying a standard commercial flight in coach. When they believe it is safe enough to risk themselves and their families then I’ll believe them when they say that it’s safe enough for me and my family.
As I sit here today – at the end of October – I believe that an optimistic view of when people can actually start flying again would be July 2021 – and that’s only if we have full distribution of a successful vaccine. The not-optimistic view is that we’ve lost 2021 entirely, and my next business trip will likely be for CES 2022 in January – fourteen months from now. I hope I’m wrong about how much longer we all have to go through this, but I don’t see that as likely right now.
On a completely different and less depressing topic, I’m working on my next “Traveler’s Toolbox” article as I type this. I’ve come across some great new portable tools/devices/gadgets that I can recommend be put into everyone’s precious carry-on space. If you’ve got any cool things you’d like me to add please drop me an email. We’re all better travelers when we help each other out.
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.
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.