Business Travel in a COVID-19 World

This Post Was Originally Published on the Plus Travel Group Blog on August 4, 2020 by Mark Crone

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World is different. Nothing seems normal in a pandemic and travel is no exception. As the economy reopens and we all move forward, it’s time to travel again. Business needs to travel for a variety of reasons including company growth, customer visits, internal company meetings, etc. I flew with Air Canada from Toronto to Montreal on July 16, 2020. Here is what a business trip looks like right now:

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Toronto Pearson Airport

Boarding the plane in a Covid -19 world

There are more people travelling than you might think. On the day I flew, there were 15,000 passengers moving through Toronto Pearson. Airport parking was busy with 2 floors full and several other floors with minimal space. As you walk into the terminal, you will need your mask on. You’ll also be stopped by security to confirm that you are a traveller (only travellers are allowed into the airport). The terminal does not look busy, but travel activity is growing week by week. Toronto Pearson has initiated a “Healthy Airport” program in response to COVID-19. This includes anti-bacterial fogging, UV cleaning technology, enhanced sanitization, and physical distancing measures. As you make your way to check-in, you will notice these measures throughout the terminal.

Check-in and Security

Air Canada Touch Free Check-In Kiosk

Advanced check-in is now more important than ever. If your flight is busy (70% or more), and you prefer to travel on a different flight, you will have an option to change to another flight operating within three days or to the next available flight without additional fees. Touch-free check-in at select airports includes seamless TouchFree Bag Check service. During mobile check-in, select the number of checked bags, print your bag tags from dedicated kiosks, and then drop off your bags at the TouchFree Bag Drop.

You’ll see physical distancing measures in place as you line up for security, with decals every two metres on the floor. As you walk up to security, your temperature will be taken by airport personnel. You now scan your own boarding pass at security and proceed through inspection. Hand sanitization stations are available at security screening and throughout the airport.

Airport Lounges and Pre-Flight

Social Distancing  seats near a gate at Toronto Pearson Airport

If you have access to an Air Canada airport lounge, you’ll be happy to know that they have re-opened. Seating has been readjusted to provide social distancing. Food comes in a snack box and drinks are handed to you by an attendant. There are also washroom attendants. As you make your way to your departure gate, some restaurants are open and seating at the gate has been adjusted with social distancing. There are more people travelling than you would expect but there is still plenty of room for physical distancing throughout the terminal.

Boarding and On the Plane

Selfie of the Author wearing a mask while flying on the plane

The number of boarding zones has increased (8 for my flight). There are fewer travellers in each zone with boarding by window then aisle and from back to front of the plane. At boarding, you’ll show your ID and boarding pass. But you’ll be asked to pull back your mask so that the agent can see your face vs. the picture on your ID. As you board the plane, you’ll be handed the Clean Care Kit (if you are flying Air Canada). The Kit includes a mask, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitizer, gloves, water bottle, a headset, and a snack. Seating is spaced out as much as possible. Given current travel activity, it would be odd to have someone beside you. Announcements on board will always remind you of COVID protocols including wearing your mask over your mouth and nose (unless eating or drinking).

Air Canada Clean Care Kit

At Montreal Airport

There are 3 security entrance points at Montreal Airport. As you enter, you will be required to sanitize your hands and have your temperature taken by infrared thermometer. Virtually every airport, including Montreal, follows updated COVID specific health and safety protocols. You are encouraged to use mobile check-in; you must wear a face mask; physical distancing measures are in place; and enhanced sanitization processes are ongoing.

Business Travel in a COVID-19 World – Summary

With the many biosafety protocols and procedures in place for travel, it quite frankly feels safer to travel than to buy groceries. It felt great to travel again as it seemed to for everyone else on the plane. The travel industry has spent considerable time and effort in developing new procedures to build trust and confidence- and it works! It really is time to travel. And business travel needs to happen to facilitate economic growth. Updated travel guidelines and procedures are the new norm and we are all ready for takeoff!

Flying on an airplane

Feel free to reach out for more information and to inquire about an updated travel program with Plus Travel Group. 

Check out my previous post for more information – Is it the right time to travel again?

Where We Travelled

Let’s take a look at today’s travel trends and where we travelled. Where are the world’s tourists and business travelers coming from, and where are we all going? Some of the answers in this graphic from Hipmunk will surprise you. Bet you can’t guess which country’s residents take the most frequent trips, or what the top destination was in the 2010s. Spain and France remain popular as destinations, but where do the Spaniards and the French go when they want a vacation? If Americans aren’t going overseas much, where are we going? This infographic packs a lot of data into a small space. It gives a fascinating glimpse into worldwide travel patterns with a focus on what Americans have been up to for the past forty years or so. Take a closer look at where we’re all going, where we’re coming from, and which destinations are falling in and out of favor over time. Then tweet @thehipmunk and let Hipmunk know where you’re going this year.

Where-We-Travelled

Brought to you by Hipmunk.com

The Festival That Is Montreal

I’m on my way to Montreal and wondering what it will have en store for me this time. There’s always something happening. A vibrancy that’s hard to describe. As I check into my hotel, I’m told “you can’t drink the water”. Bottles of water are at the check-in desk and are on each floor. In fact, the entire city of Montreal is under a “boil water” alert. A major Canadian city! You can’t even brush your teeth with tap water! This same day, coffee shops are running out of bottled water and trucking it in from Ontario. A Quebec-er without coffee, or the ability to sit at a coffee shop or patio, this is serious stuff. Overnight, the problem is solved and its front page news the next day.

Montreal Water by marktravel

The other thing missing on this Montreal trip is a festival. Hard to imagine in this city of Festivals. I’ve just missed the Formula 1 Grand Prix “festival” and I’m too early for the Montreal Jazz Festival (the world’s largest with over 650 concerts), and the Comedy Festival, and the festival after that.

Montreal statue by marktravel
Montreal dome by marktravel

What I’m not missing, as always, is that Montreal good feeling. Montrealers have a sense of style. Their fashionable look and cool demeanor. But appearances are deceiving. Because most people from Quebec are very passionate- about everything. They love life and have an opinion- on everything. Nothing wrong with that. Just be prepared for a full and thoughtful conversation on whatever the topic is.

Come to think of it – a trip to Montreal is always special. It’s the “Joie de vivre”- the cheerful enjoyment of life. The food and beverage is somehow better (even at a chain restaurant). Every activity seems exciting. A simple dinner feels like a party. A celebration of food, drink and friends. Like a festival…