David J. Danto
Business travel thoughts in my own, personal opinion
Warming Up For The Holiday Melt Down
Fasten Your Seatbelts for a bumpy-end to 2021. We are heading for a holiday season with a perfect storm in airline travel. The airlines are short-staffed (due both to their furloughing of staff that we taxpayers paid them not to do, and because there is a small but visible percentage of idiots working for them that refuse to get vaccinated.) The TSA is short staffed, many of the airports have reduced services, and there are sadly many more than the usual number of unruly travelers gumming-up the works. In addition to all that, the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year holidays all happen near the end of the months of November and/or December – when crews are approaching the limit of their available legal hours. Welcome to the not so amusing amusement ride at end of 2021.
Additionally, if all of the above wasn’t bad enough, add to it the fact that there is pent-up travel demand due to nineteen months of a pandemic which prevented most travel. People miss their families, they miss their vacations and they miss traveling. And most of them have been away from it for long enough to have forgotten what a nightmare it was even before this perfect storm.
It doesn’t take a theme-park expert to realize that we are on the runaway train ride – the one that is speeding with no breaks toward the massive drop. If you do plan to travel in November and December please follow all the precautions that you hopefully have learned from years of travel experiences. Here are a few reminders:
· Assume no flight will be on time. If you must take connecting flights then give yourselves hours of layover time – anything less than two hours should be assumed to be a connection you probably will miss. If someone in your traveling party is bothered by the long layover remind them how much more bothered they’d be by missing their flights.
· Do not plan trips that have you arriving on the day of an event. Arrive one or two days early, giving yourself some pad if you are delayed. And, as I blogged about a few months ago, forget the same-day business trip anywhere. The airline industry is no longer equipped to handle those.
· Do advance research on your available alternatives. These include alternate flights that may be on other carriers, and complete alternates to flying (driving or train transportation.) I have experienced (enough times to count) my airline telling me ‘there are no alternate flights for days’ when they have cancelled or misconnected me, but then (by myself) finding easily available flights on them or other carriers. Be prepared to pay cash for your alternate and then fight with your original airline or credit-card company after the fact.
· Assume you will NOT get your checked luggage on time. Carry-on at least a couple of days of clothes changes, your needed toiletries and of course any medications you need and/or any irreplaceable items. I can’t tell you how many times airlines lose your checked bags for days – sometimes getting them back to you on the last day of your trip, sometimes never getting them back to you.
Oh, and remember that 1970s / 1980s advice to fill out the frequent flyer application as long as your already in the airport? Well, forget that. It’s time to stop playing the airline loyalty game. It is hard to imagine, but if there are still readers of my blog and/or JoeSentMe.com who are still striving for elite status on airlines, please just be smart about it and give up now. All of the major US airlines have so watered down their loyalty programs that they are mere hollow shells of the past. Most recently, American Airlines has completely abandoned any linkage between loyalty and flying. They and the others have squarely moved into the camp of ‘loyalty for spending,’ not loyalty for using their services. And in addition, the benefits for being loyal are a joke. These companies are not loyal to you in return for your efforts, so as I said it’s long past time to abandon the schemes. Stop using airline credit cards – switch to ones that give you other benefits and/or cash back. Stop saving-up (or heaven forbid, actually purchasing) their false “miles” currency. The airlines know most people never use these so they keep selling the fake money with no penalty or downside. Pay cash for your flights and services. Get out of the horse race. There is no successful finish – the theme park ride in this case is really just a merry-go-round, and not a fun one at that. You can never get where you want to be by going around in circles.
One final note. Today, finally, I believe we are at a starting point for the end of the COVID19 Pandemic. We have a vaccine being administered to everyone including kids as young as 5, and, we are about to have an effective, after-the fact treatment for infections.
Once that treatment (Pfizer's pill Paxlovid) is approved and widely available we should start to see the real sunset of the pandemic. That is of course only if we beat the arrival of any new variants.
If you haven't been vaccinated, please do it ASAP. If you haven't received a booster yet please do that too. And until that pill is available at your pharmacy please keep wearing masks regardless of any local laws or lack thereof.
I hope and pray it is finally the beginning of the end.
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.
As always, feel free to write and comment, question or disagree. Hearing from the traveling community is always a highlight for me. Thanks!