I have missed travel. I had to take a trip just after Labor Day. As I was landing on the return leg of my flight, I realized just how much I have missed traveling.
And I have begun to realize that the journey is multi-faceted. While we travel for business, to accomplish some important tasks, a critical element in our journeys is that of personal interaction with others. Planned or spontaneous, the interaction with others provides us with perspectives. Challenge, joy, contemplation, reaction, memories. These are just a few of the facets of travel that I get.
As with many aspects of life that we take for granted, we don’t realize we miss it until we cannot participate. I began to contemplate this after reading an article on the topic. What struck me most was the comment “The point of travel is to overcome distance, not to keep it. Travel nudges us to see strangers as individuals, not types.”
While we spend enormous amounts of time behind our keyboards and video cameras as a result of the pandemic, these virtual meetings are no substitute for the real human to human interaction. It seems to me that while we are now able to maintain connections with business colleagues, and friends, this virtual world currently does not take the place of personal interaction and relationship building. I am sure that most of you have a similar feeling.
My trip was brief, just a day trip. My feeling is that throughout the journey, I was safe. In the airport terminals, in the airline lounges, onboard planes, on transport to and from parking. The health crisis has, or should be, making us all more aware of our personal safety in surroundings. My sense is that the traveling public is adjusting to this, albeit a much smaller cross section of the population.
Speaking with two colleagues who have flown in the last few days, the message is a bit mixed. The sense of experiencing a clean environment is there, but it gets challenging. One traveler experienced a rushed boarding process due to a late arriving aircraft, so the boarding process was truncated in order to make the flight departure time. The handout bag of water, pretzels and towelette was omitted due to catering and time constraints. This colleague felt that the cabin staff was disinterested in the passengers, perhaps suggesting a morale issue – no surprise, considering the condition of the industry. My second colleague noted that the challenge experienced is maintaining some effective social distancing while exiting the aircraft. Passenger behavior remains relatively unchanged towards exiting the aircraft as rapidly as possible.
So, as I noted last month, perception has a lot to do with getting travel back on the increase. It is the perception of personal safety; exhibiting a ‘we care’ attitude by both passengers and airport/airline personnel; and modifying behavior to a new level of appropriateness in this new era of travel. Clearly, as an industry, we have work to do, improvements to make.
What changes are you personally implementing? What are you driving within your organization to help make a difference? I would be happy to hear your story!