David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
The Summer Of Yuck – July 2023
After touring Europe in May my wife and I made the decision to stay home this summer. We both have extensive travel plans in September and are nursing some various small ailments, so no summer vacation was the decision. It was one of the best decisions of our lives. Multiple issues have converged to make this the summer from hell for traveling.
First, thankfully, this is the first summer in three years where people are not dying in record numbers from COVID-19. Enough people have been vaccinated or exposed to have built-up some immunity, and we also have some viable treatments, so we can finally say the COVID pandemic stage is over. (Mind you, COVID is still out there, and we need to be smart about exposure, but it’s not the crisis it was.) Many people across the globe became COVID-Stir-Crazy and planned extensive travel again this summer. The predictions and the realities of bookings across the board showed this to be a time when all pre-pandemic records for reservations and loads were going to be broken. When my wife and I were planning our May trip one travel agent said “Europe is closed for the summer – don’t even ask me about availability.” This factor however is only the beginning of our collective summer from hell. It only compounds from there.
We frequent travelers are aware that the airlines are run by greedy bean-counters that have no concept of service. Schedules are ridiculous fantasies even in excellent conditions, but when conditions are less than perfect, the damage to our airline routes is extensive and the recovery painful. So, this summer, with climate change obviously causing record temperatures and violent thunderstorms, and record Canadian wildfires causing unprecedented smoke conditions, the delays and cancellations are off the charts. It’s not uncommon for people to have their flights cancelled and the airlines to not have another availability to travel for multiple days. Just go to any large US airport and take a look at the angry and frustrated passengers sleeping on the floors because of all of the issues. The weather crisis is so bad that passengers are sometimes passing out from the heat on the tarmac just waiting to take off.
Then, added to that mess, there are the political issues hanging over the USA right now. For just a tiny example of these, Florida theme parks are a ghost-town this summer. Left leaning individuals are avoiding Florida because of a perceived extreme right-wing governor. Right leaning individuals are avoiding Disney parks because of a perceived left-wing corporate management. Add to both of those factors the huge price increases at the parks, and the record temperatures in the water around Florida and you have record low summer attendance in the parks. Naturally, this means the other US vacation destinations are absorbing more of the load.
And of course, on top of all of those issues are the usual ones we always have to deal with. Cruises are popular again, so people are getting sick on them at record rates. That overbooked Europe I mentioned above? It is also suffering from climate changed caused record heat. And the hotels we stay at are constantly reducing services and raising rates – no matter if you look at luxury resorts or discount offerings. “Shrinkflation” is what they’re calling the phenomenon.
So, how do we fix this crisis? That’s a two-fold answer. First of all, we need to acknowledge that climate change is real and make the necessary sacrifices to slow or stop it. (That will likely never happen, and if it does it will likely not happen in my lifetime, but it still needed to be mentioned.) The second answer though is more obvious. Stop. Stop paying hotels for terrible service, stop paying airlines for terrible service, stop traveling the way we used to. Find an Airbnb in driving distance and go there. Visit your relatives. Have a staycation and splash around in a backyard pool or have a barbecue. Play board games with friends. Anything. The only way the travel and hospitality industry will stop ripping-us-off with poor service and gouged prices is if we stop paying them to do it. Pretend COVID is out there if you have to…whatever it takes. Just stop.
If you can’t bring yourselves to stop vacationing the old way as I suggest above, then, as an alternative, you can always become a Supreme Court Justice. I hear they get their vacations for free...
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.
Copyright 2023 David Danto
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