Virginia Shaffer, FCM’s Sales Director, recently got her first taste of the new business travel experience on a tour of Boston’s Logan International Airport with Delta Air Lines. As a frequent road warrior herself, we asked Virginia to share some thoughts and advice on how to prepare for COVID-era business travel.
Q. Were you apprehensive about taking this first step back to business travel?
Yes! Before the pandemic, I was traveling every week for business. After so many months of staying home, I felt almost out of practice! That, along with new policies, made me feel nervous and I knew more planning would be needed.
Safety while traveling is something I take very seriously, especially while traveling internationally. I am always thinking about how I can protect myself and make good decisions while I’m on my own. This kind of safety, however, feels very different. It’s not just about me - it’s about the safety of everyone around me and trusting that we are all doing our part to protect each other. This “collective reliance” is where some apprehension may exist for travelers who want to get back on the road, but want to feel like everyone’s committed to the same standards.
Q. What were your first impressions of Logan Airport?
At first, it was eerie! The terminals were less busy, and although I would have loved to see a quiet terminal six months ago, I missed the energy and the movement.
I immediately began looking for clues on new procedures. At Logan, they were very visible. There were a ton of signs providing basic advice, like washing hands, maintaining distance, and wearing a mask. Ticket counters had protective glass, and there were dots for spacing in the queues. I could also spot a lot of hand sanitizing stations. I started feeling relieved that the advice was very obvious and easy to follow!
TSA at Logan was the same process, but more distancing in the queues. Hand sanitizer stations were provided right after exiting TSA. I saw signage everywhere, seat protections to help people maintain space while waiting at gates, and Delta had stations at the gate that provided free masks. It felt so much safer than I had initially imagined, and my confidence increased significantly.
Q. Do you feel that any of the new procedures and protocols have changed the business travel experience for the better?
Yes! When I think back to all the shuttles I used to take up and down the east coast, I always wondered how many people had sat it my seat and what germs I was carrying home! I would love to see many of the new sanitization protocols stay for good.
Q. What do you feel is going to be the most challenging aspect to get used to?
As travel picks up, I feel that maintaining social distancing may become more difficult to achieve in airports, along with the big question of middle seating. Suppliers are doing their best to achieve high standards in making travel safe, but it doesn’t end there. As frequent travelers, we will all have a responsibility in doing our part to set the example for safety and professionalism.
Q. Now that you have experienced some of the Delta Care Standard initiatives first-hand how comfortable are you to fly Delta in the future?
I am extremely comfortable flying with Delta! In fact, Delta’s new initiatives went beyond my expectations, as well as their commitment to maintain these standards in a post-pandemic world.
Q. Do you have any tips for travelers on how best to prepare for their next trip?
Prepare! It’s easy to prep when you have the right resources available. We have a great pre-travel checklist on our Traveler Hub that I now have bookmarked on my browser. There are a ton of other helpful pages for destination regulations, COVID-19 status updates, supplier policies, and more.
Download Sam – our chatbot. Free for non-FCM clients as well, Sam’s alerts on the road are an amazing resource for less fuss and more confidence as you travel.
Bring SNACKS – shops and restaurants are coming back slowly, so bring some power bars just in case.
Stay calm – traveling isn’t so different, it’s more about being aware and doing the basics to keep safe.
Ready to get your travel program back to business? Let us help