Sunday, May 31, 2020

Travel in COVID?.... Yikes ?!?!?

KB
There is a fear of traveling in the current pandemic. Rightfully so.

COVID-19 is unlike any virus previously known to humankind. At the time of writing this blog, at least 350,000 people have died worldwide with over 2.5 million infections reported. The virus transmits in close proximity with air as the medium as well as other common surfaces.

In 2019, I traveled a total of 800,000 miles across the world. In 2020, I've barely touched 100,000 miles. Travel as we know has been halted from March onwards. Companies have restricted their employees from traveling as well as individuals have postponed or altogether canceled their travel, domestic or international. Some countries have altogether suspended travel.

Now, let's take a look across what is in store for the future.

Have you ever heard the question .... where do you see yourself in 5 years from now? Well... now is a bad time to ask that question. Actually, it's a bad question to ask. Period. I honestly think it is one of the dumbest questions to ask in an interview. Nevertheless, I digress. Please do not ask any airline executive, where they see themselves 5 years from now. Honestly, they will be seething in anger 5 seconds from hearing that question!!!

So, let's take this one step at a time. My favorite word in the English language is "decomposition". It refers to the practice of breaking down "boil the ocean" problems into bite sized chunks. Let's apply this same principle to travel, specifically air travel. First things first.

1) Social Distancing

How on earth can you practice social distancing in a Ryanair or Spirit Airlines airplane? Imagine Anthony Fauci (my buddy!) sitting in the middle seat of a Ryanair airplane. He would be appalled at no social distancing. On the other hand Michael O'leary would be shouting across the aisle, he should be happy that they have seats and not implemented "all standing passengers" configuration.

Kidding aside, how on earth can you travel with social distancing implemented. Do you have customers seated in a diamond configuration or diamond followed by square, followed by triangle... ughh... I am having a headache just imagining it. And if the airlines do it, what about their revenue loss? Are the customers going to pay insane amounts to travel? Hmmmm..... hmmmm... probably not. But then again, customers are never rational!

If customers are not going to pay insane amounts, should airlines ditch the concept of social distancing and pack the airplanes? What should a customer do if they board the aircraft and realize they are in a middle seat with no concept of social distancing followed? Should they request to de-board the aircraft? What if the airline does not guarantee another flight to that customer?

It's a cluster fuck, needless to say. These questions weigh heavily in the minds of travelers and airline executives. We are so early in the stage of this pandemic that all solutions are being considered and no solution is perfect. Needless to say, if you do travel, please don't expect to follow guidelines set by Mr. Fauci or Ms. Birx!

2) Restrooms

Okay, you need to head to the restroom. What do you do? Raise your hand? What if your neighbor and you raise the hand at the same time? How are flight attendants supposed to monitor this? If it is on a first come, first served basis, how can you guarantee flight attendants are following this principle on an aircraft with 150 passengers on board?

If you are lucky enough to head to the restroom, feeling like you've won the lottery walking down the aisle, what would you do if you see a 5 year old kid desperately waiting to hit the restroom? Would you forgo your number in the line? Should you ask the flight attendant for permission to let the kid go through?

What happens if you need to hit the restroom just 30 minutes prior to descending? What if you are not allowed to hit the restroom? Can you hold up? Too much pressure?????

You know what.... I'll just stop. I think you get the point.

3) Flight Crew

Okay, so this is very interesting.

What about the flight crew in the cockpit?

A narrow body aircraft typically does 4 to 6 cycles in a day. If there are different pairs of flight crew in the cockpit, are they all supposed to use the same touch surfaces? Can all the surfaces be cleaned and disinfected during a turnaround? Can COVID-19 linger in a corner and infect the flight crew? Will they then carry it around and infect their co-workers and family members? What happens if a flight crew is infected and is not exhibiting any symptoms for the next 10 days? How does contact tracing work in this case?

Will the Airline Pilots Association and Flight Attendants Association agree to any cleaning measures?  Given the impending layoffs in the airline industry, flight crew will just be glad to have a job and trust the cleaners!



These are just a few of the challenges facing the airline travel industry with severe headwinds ahead.

Please do me a favor and never ask anybody... where do they see themselves in 5 years from now?

About the Author

KB / Author & Editor

Has laoreet percipitur ad. Vide interesset in mei, no his legimus verterem. Et nostrum imperdiet appellantur usu, mnesarchum referrentur id vim.

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Travel in COVID?.... Yikes ?!?!?

There is a fear of traveling in the current pandemic. Rightfully so. COVID-19 is unlike any virus previously known to humankind. At the ti...