Other people: “No you’re supposed to call it COVID-19 now”
People from Texas: “No it’s called beer virus”
People like me who think they’re funny: “See this is why I like Modelo”
People from the USA: “WE MUST GO BUY TOILET PAPER FOR SOME REASON”
Whatever you call it, it’s here. I’m not a scientist or a podiatrist or whatever so I’m not going to pontificate about WHAT THIS MEANS or IS IT GOING TO GET WORSE or anything in all caps or bolded for no reason.
Let’s just talk about reality as it pertains to travel.
This virus is absolutely decimating tourism
Leisure travel is pretty much gone right now and business travel isn’t far behind. Everyone looks at the airlines and the news is rough:
- United expects 70% less revenue and went through a funding round to have enough cash on hand to get through this
- Lufthansa cancelled 70% of their flights and almost every single one to the USA
- Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon are just trying to survive
- Boeing will need every bit of the $13.8 billion credit line they secured in January as the first cancellations roll in for 737 MAX aircraft from airlines who no longer want the jets that have already been built for them
- American Airlines is speculated to be raising money in the coming days
- Hotels around the world (especially business hotels) who are used to being at 95% occupancy are at 10% occupancy
- Airline lounges are closing all over the world
- Almost every level of sport is cancelled
It’s also important to think about all the follow-on business that follows airlines and tourism. Catering companies, Taxi/ridesharing, cleaning staff, etc. It’s all decimated right now.
Here’s the thing: it’s probably going to get worse in the United States before it gets better
Let’s just acknowledge it. We’re seeing extreme preventative measures being taken across the country, including the cessation of all college sports for the rest of the school year (which makes me sad, as a huge college baseball fan), offices closing, people working from home, and even university campuses moving to online-only instruction for the remainder of the semester.
But it’s still going to spread, that’s just how a pandemic works.
Should people travel right now?
I know, you’ve seen scientists and ornithologists on the news saying all manner of terrifying thing about WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TRAVEL and counterpoints from people speaking in even more capital letters saying WHY YOU SHOULD TRAVEL. I’ve received about as many requests to comment as an American flight attendant receives about the credit card application before doing the annoying card pitch (read: none), so I thought I’d chime in.
If you choose to travel I don’t blame you. If you choose not to travel I don’t blame you. That said, it’s probably a good time to sit things out for a bit. While this virus doesn’t appear to be super fatal but it does appear to be incredibly contagious. “But I don’t have any kids and am not around older people” you say, and fair point, but you’re probably going to be around people who are. Similar to vaccinations being about “herd immunity”, this is about “herd prevention”.
Short rant: resist Chaos Addiction
Dr. Keith Lee wrote a book about a concept called Chaos Addiction back in 2006 and I think we’re in the middle of it today. We go from all caps thing to all caps thing with no break in between. The Impeachment, The Primary, The Virus, etc. In his book, Lee says,
“In a culture where the ‘extreme theme’ has become the norm, people are increasingly seduced into believing that intensity equals being alive. When that happens, the mind becomes wired for drama and the soul is starved of meaningful purpose. This type of life may produce heart-pounding excitement, but the absence of this addictive energy can bring about withdrawal, fear, and restlessness that is unbearable.”
It’s going to be really easy to glue yourself to your TV news flavor of choice during all of the time you’re likely being asked to work from home. Don’t. Go take a walk or go for a jog. Spend time with your family. Cook something. Call an old friend and catch up. Be bored. Fight the temptation to run from extreme to extreme.
The disease is going to happen. It’s going to affect a portion of your life, even if you don’t get sick from it. If you do get it, you’ll likely recover from it.
Don’t be scared of this stuff, be prepared. Wash your hands more thoroughly than you normally do. Sneeze into your arm or a handkerchief. And then try to live your life as normally as possible.
The answers to the questions you have will likely come later
“What will happen to airline status?”
“When will sports start again?”
“When will this all end?”
“What about my 401k in this market?”
Nobody knows the answers to those questions right now, quit trying to find a news outlet which tells you they do. This is going to take patience, not volume, but this too shall pass, hopefully in a month or two, but it could take longer.
At this point, I’m not sure how much more information you need about how many people have it or where’s the next city center to have an outbreak. Turn off the TV and read a book instead (or my trip reports!).
Oh, and one last thing
Reach out to your friends and family in the aviation and tourism business. I’ve been travel blogging long enough to have many friends in the industry and things are rough right now. I’m sure they would appreciate an encouraging word or two.