I have to confess something to you. I’ve had lots of drafts of articles ready to go as airlines announced service cancellations and I didn’t end up posting them. For one thing, I’m not a great Timely News Blogger, I usually defer to people like Gary Leff, who does a great job at delivering timely news (among the many other things he’s great at). But that’s not really the reason I haven’t posted the news.
The airline industry has brought so much joy and vibrance to my life (and this blog). I’ve been blogging about airlines long enough that I’ve developed friendships at numerous airports and airline HQs and know plenty of ramp staff through the awesome DFW Spotters Facebook planespotting group. I owe a significant part of the richness of my life and the vast network of lovely people I’ve met to the airline industry.
My mouse hovers over the Publish button and I just can’t do it. The entire aviation industry is facing the worst crisis in its history, that’s not news. I just don’t think me writing an article about something else that’s shutting down is helping anyone. Maybe that means I’m a failure as a blogger, I don’t know. I just want it all to get better. I want this virus to go away so people stop dying. I want it to go away so I can get back to work and see my awesome coworkers again. I want to fly again. There’s nothing like that feeling when you walk through the doors of an airport in a new place and catch the first scent of a new place (note: don’t put a lot of effort into getting that first scent if that new place happens to be LaGuardia in New York).
I’m rooting for the airlines, all of them. I don’t agree with every decision they make, not even close, but the current economic climate is beyond compare. It’s hurting my friends. Pilots, flight attendants, ramp workers, consultants, vendors, flight sim instructors, they’re all worried. The economic tail of the aviation industry truly boggles the mind when you start thinking about how many jobs rely upon those incredible jets taking to the skies. The social distancing and shelter-in-place directives are coming from people listening to much smarter people than I, so no point in second-guessing the decisions made. But it’s as painful as it gets for aviation. It’s even bad enough that I’m going to use a clip from the critically-panned but still epic movie Armageddon, when Owen Wilson asks Billy Bob to describe the environment they’d be facing on the asteroid plummeting towards earth:
This is it. This is the scariest environment imaginable for the aviation industry. And honestly I just haven’t wanted to talk about it.
As for the latest news, American is ceasing food and beverage service almost entirely across the airline, including Admirals Clubs. All non-hub Admirals Clubs will be closed, and the hub clubs will basically be shut as well, only front desk agents will be available to assist with flights. No seating, showers, restrooms, etc. They’re ceasing food and beverage service on planes through April 30th to minimize contact between flight attendants and customers. To encourage social distancing, 50% of middle seats will be blocked off so passengers aren’t sitting as close together, and passengers will be encouraged to spread out once boarding is complete (subject to weight and balance restrictions). More details are here.
Again, it’s not that this news is particularly earth-shattering or anything, it’s just another in a line of really sad stories written about events affecting an industry (and people) I love.
They’ll get through this
The people I know, most of them at American and United, are as strong and tough as it gets. They’re resilient. The aviation industry is full of fighters, and I know they’ll get through this. I don’t think flying will be the same as it was only last month when I was on a chilly work trip to Chicago, but I know soon (hopefully very soon) we will be flying on full jets to far away places once again.
So if you’ve felt uninformed, I’m very sorry. I’m just trying to keep my spirits up, and reading article after article about how bad things are getting is Bringing Me Down (also the name of an amazing song by Monte Montgomery). There has to be positive stories to tell amidst the chaos, and I promise you I’ll do my best to find them and share them.
Until then, should you need a smile, may I recommend one of the most happy things I’ve ever seen, from the closing ceremonies of the London 2012 Olympics:
Stay bright yall, we’re gonna get through this.
(going to add a disclaimer here: I didn’t mean to minimize the impact of human lives taken by this awful virus or to ignore the countless other industries suffering amidst this crisis, and I apologize if it came across that way to even one person)