‘We have so many reasons to rejoice and get back to travelling’ – the return to some form of travel normalcy may prove to be closer than we think and we could make it a calmer experience for all

1 December, 2020

The old adage that today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappings may no longer be as relevant in the digital age, but its meaning certainly remains: things that seem to be novel and important today are quickly forgotten. As we remain in the busiest global health emergency of the modern age and industries such as tourism and air travel attempt to recover from their biggest declines, it gives us some optimism for the future.

Some news articles have questioned if business travel will ever be the same. Will we be travelling as regularly as in the past? Will technology change how businesses act and to what degree will that substitute corporate travel? These are two of the most frequently asked questions.

Our resident corporate traveller Victor A Forcenteain offers his own opinions.

“Yesterday I went on a business trip. Packed my carry-on suitcase, took a taxi to the airport, checked in and waited in the lounge. There were people all around me, smiling, laughing people. Some a bit more grumpy as to be expected, but I was happy to be at an airport with aeroplanes in the skies, passport in my pocket and a ticket on my phone.

“Going through security had been simple as we all know the score nowadays with putting liquids in a small bag and keeping laptops out. We don’t need to be told any more, we know and we understand so the process was simple and quick.

“After a lovely cup of coffee, I went to my gate and boarded the plane. It was easy and there was no mad rush to board, just a gentle walk onto the plane and my seat. Everyone was calm and understood that the plane wouldn’t go without them so no point in pushing to get on the plane before that chap over there with the large paunch or that lady on the phone. We are only allowed one piece of hand luggage so there’s enough overhead space for all of us. No point in pushing and rushing.

“The flight went without a hitch. I was keen to get to my destination and meet my clients. I hadn’t seen them in nine months and it was definitely time to have a good catch up face to face. I was looking forward to staying in my usual hotel. Home from home in many ways as the reception staff now know me. I was hoping they’d still be there.

“Disembarking was just as calm as boarding. No pushing or shoving. Everyone just took their time getting out of their seat, grabbing their bag and walking off the plane. We all smiled at the crew as we disembarked, they smiled back and thanked us for our custom. We were all happy to be there.

“There was the usual long walk through to passport control but we’ve all done that a million times before and with the automatic passport readers it was really easy and before too long I was out in the open air with the sun on my face.

“A short trip to my hotel – I did recognise some of the staff and their warm welcome to me was truly heartfelt and sincere. Visiting my clients was a delight and we all agreed it had been far too long and we must definitely meet up again regularly from here on.

“…and then I woke up!

“Imagine my disappointment. I’d been so sure I was travelling and so happy to be doing so. But my dream wasn’t so far from the truth. All of it is possible right now. With the addition of a test before I fly to ensure I’m not carrying the virus then there is no reason whatsoever that travel cannot resume right now.

“There have been huge leaps in technology and AI during the past few months. So much innovation that has been fast tracked and brought on-line. So there’s no need to touch anything or anyone for a truly contactless journey from start to finish. We have so many reasons to rejoice and get back to travelling.

“My biggest wish is that we do all become more caring to each other as we get back in the air. There is no need to rush and push. We should all be more aware of our fellow passengers, give each other space as we’ve now got used to doing, and be respectful and appreciate our crew who are simply doing their job to keep us safe.

“I am going to book my next business trip straight away. I hope to see you in the sky soon – but be sure to smile, even if it may still be behind a mask!”