Yes, I know, my blog is named “I Fly MSP“, so it is clearly about travel and flying. I spent more than 35 years in the travel industry working for airlines and tour operators in sales and marketing positions. Clearly, I love to travel and encourage every else who wants to, to do the same. So why am I very disturbed with the fact that more than seven million airline travelers have passed through TSA checkpoints in the last week? Let me explain.
As much as I love to travel, I hate the pandemic. We all do, and any sense of a return to normalcy from almost a year of social distancing will excite me to no end. However, in order to beat COVID, we first have to listen to the science and the scientists, and they are almost unanimously telling us that the recent surges in cases and deaths are going to get much worse before they get better.
Experts like Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the World Health Organization (WHO) have been adamant that we must socially distance, wash our hands, wear a mask, and as part of these recommendations, not travel, whether that be by car or plane. And while I understand that airlines need passengers to survive, and airline employees need jobs to pay their mortgage/rent and to eat, I also know that a large part of the reason for the length of the coronavirus emergency is the fact that too many people are not doing what is being asked of them. And while vaccines are now in the initial stages of distribution, we are still many months away from being able to let down our guard. It is extremely naive to think that because we have multiple vaccines coming soon, that it’s okay not to wear a mask, to have holiday gatherings and travel to visit family, friends or take a vacation.
Of course, as they say, the horses are now out of the barn, as Thanksgiving and Christmas are now behind us. The severe consequences of our collective actions will be felt in a few weeks, as predictions of at least another 250,000 dead Americans will sadly come to pass.
What part of “don’t travel” don’t we understand? Seeing television reports showing lengthy lines of travelers standing no more than three feet apart at airports around the country makes me angry and sad at the same time. Just because they’re wearing a mask and having their temperature taken before being able to board a flight doesn’t mean that we are being smart. These same millions of airline travelers will also be congregating with extended family, passing through crowded airports, standing in additional lines to rent a car, filling hotel rooms, and where possible, eating in restaurants in states that allow such insanity.
Clearly, the next and possibly most lethal surge story has been written. It just has to get to my and your home town, and arrive it will. In the meantime, please do the right thing. Minimize travel locally and beyond, hunker down and stay safe. This too shall pass, but it will pass quicker if we follow the science.
Here’s to a vastly improved 2021, and to traveling the world again soon.