Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, business travel ground to a halt. However, companies seem to be getting slightly more comfortable with employees traveling for business within the U.S., according to results of the Global Business Travel Association's 10th bi-weekly survey conducted among its members since the onset of the pandemic in February.
While there remains almost no willingness to have employees travel internationally, there has been a drop of almost 20 percentage points down to 74% of companies curtailing all or most U.S. domestic business trips. This number was at 93% in mid-April. This suggests that while business travel may never be the same, many travelers indicate they are getting more comfortable with precautionary measures like temperature checks, masks, social distancing and increased hygiene/germ management.
“The business travel landscape continues to be difficult in Europe and the U.S., but we do see some small glimmers of recovery here and there,” said Dave Hilfman, the interim executive director of GBTA. “More companies look to be trending positively on domestic trips, with Europe still showing the most positive uplift.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, "On Aug. 6, the U.S. State Department lifted the nearly five-month-old travel advisory warning Americans against all international travel, citing improved health and safety conditions in some countries. But both the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) still have advisories in place urging against non-essential travel to dozens of countries, including most of the European Union, Canada and Mexico."
So, it is not surprising that we are seeing news of travelers returning to the skies. Recent articles point to an uptick — here are a few examples:
- United plans to add 25,000 flights in August as customers 'are slowly returning'
- EasyJet increases flights to cope with holidaymaker demand
- GBTA Survey: Optimism Continues in Business Travel
So let's revisit some important travel safety tips for those who are willing and able to travel these days, either for work or personal reasons. As travel picks up, the Mayo Clinic has some important travel advice that will help travelers protect themselves and others. Their Coronavirus travel advice:
- Stay safe: Reiterates those previously described personal behaviors such as maintaining social distances of 6+ feet, wearing masks, avoiding contact with those who are sick, cleaning your hands often and of course covering when you cough.
- Check local requirements and restrictions: Due to so much variation during the pandemic and the rising and falling of infection rates, checking state, local and territorial governments will keep you aware and able to prepare for moving safely while en route and in your destination.
- Air travel: Airlines and the TSA have adapted and continue to adjust processes for security and onboarding, as well as the flights themselves. This is a good section to review!
- Car travel: For those who prefer and are able to drive rather than fly, consider a list of things to do prior to hitting the road.
- Other ground transportation: Useful info on buses, trains and other forms of public transportation.
- Hotels and lodging options: Consider these tips and revisit current practices being deployed by lodging hosts.
- Packing list: Tips on how to ensure you have and bring what you need.
- Considerations for travelers at increased risk: Review your situation carefully by looking through this section. Connecting with your doctor prior to travel is the critical takeaway.
Here are some additional articles with important points on taking care of yourself while traveling:
Alexandria, VA (August 13, 2020) – GBTA member companies worldwide, report an emerging willingness to permit employees to engage in domestic business travel, according to the latest poll conducted between August 5-9, 2020, by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA).