AmTrav Travelers on COVID-Era Travel: “Pack Your Patience"
by Elliott McNamee, on June 1, 2020
It’s hard to know what to expect when traveling right now in the COVID era. In order to find out and better prepare other travelers, we surveyed AmTrav travelers who recently braved the road.
AmTrav travelers report that COVID-era business travel is a mixed bag. On one occasion you might be pleasantly surprised by the care for cleanliness and social distancing measures shown by your airline or hotel, but then on the next you might be disappointed to find your flight packed or the car rental employees showing little interest in sanitizing surfaces. The truth is, there isn’t much consistency in travel right now: airports and hotels are less crowded, but there are also fewer employees to help, fewer TSA lanes, and fewer food options. AmTrav travelers gave us a lot of great feedback, but three main pieces of advice stand out: bring a mask, bring snacks and pack your patience. You’ll be glad you did.
AmTrav travelers say: bring your own mask, make sure it’s comfortable and breathable. In the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, at the car rental facility – you’ll be wearing a mask for hours on end. You’ll be glad if you have a comfortable mask that doesn’t get too hot and allows you to breathe. As one traveler says: “It is a different world now; have a mask and hand sanitizer handy.”
And Bring Snacks!
Yes, snacks. One AmTrav traveler reports: “don't show up at the airport thirsty or hungry, assume no services will be available.” Many airport restaurants and stores along with hotel bars and restaurants are still closed, so you’ll want to bring some snacks to ward off hunger (and crankiness). If you’re traveling out of state do a little research on your destination to find out what’s open and still closed. And a little AmTrav traveler insider tip: inflight services are reduced, but “ask for drinks and snacks on the plane, your flight attendants are probably willing to provide them on request.”
Pack Your Patience
There may be fewer people traveling right now, but don’t expect low or no wait times. Airports, hotels and car rental kiosks are less crowded, but there are also fewer staff to assist customers. One traveler points out that, while the TSA has fewer travelers to screen, there are also fewer security lanes open, so you’ll want to leave yourself enough time to get through. A good rule of thumb shared by AmTrav travelers: pack your patience just in case there’s a line.
Be Flexible On Flight Times
You can also expect to see fewer flight options when you’re booking travel. Airlines are flying 80% fewer flights than normal right now. In many markets where there used to be lots of flights, you’ll often find only one or two. And if you book far in advance, be aware that airlines are making frequent changes to their schedules. AmTrav monitors bookings, though, so we’ll let you know if that happens and, if it does, we’ll help you rebook.
Don’t Assume Your Flight Will Be Empty
Because there are fewer flights, planes are only sometimes less full. We have Traveler A who says: “Every center row seat was empty!” And then Traveler B who tells us: “From watching media reports, you would think no one is flying [but] I was very surprised my plane was completely full.” You could be Traveler A, impressed with the cleanliness and social distancing measures of your airline, or you could be Traveler B, packed in with hundreds of mask-wearing compatriots. Some airlines like Delta are trying very hard to give you space on the plane, others less so. Our advice: be prepared for a crowded flight -- and then you’ll be pleasantly surprised if your plane isn’t full.
What AmTrav Is Doing To Help
To help prepare you for your trip, we will be sending a short “what-to-expect” email to all AmTrav travelers returning to the road for the first time since March. And if you want or need to change your flight or would like to confirm how full your flight is, we're happy to help you with that too.