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?

Is it the right time to travel again?

A man looking at the sky, wondering if it's the right time to travel
Photo by Chei ki on Pexels.com

COVID-19 has sure left us with consequences. The virus has had a serious impact on the world economy and the travel industry. However, after being stuck in their homes for months, more and more people are eager to travel somewhere. But, is it the right time to travel again? Let’s try to answer that question here and now.

A plane flying
Photo by Sam Willis on Pexels.com

Preparation is crucial

Whenever you need to travel, you know that it’s important to get everything ready including your vehicle. But in these times, it’s even more important to be truly prepared, since the consequences could be more serious than before. For starters, your car needs to be ready for the whole trip. Next, you need to have masks, disinfectants, and gloves with you at all times. Also, carry some soap with you, so that you can wash your hands every once in a while. Remember that it’s better to follow the safety measures than to have your travel ruined by COVID-19 symptoms.

Choosing Travel Insurance

Now that Covid-19 is a part of our everyday lives, ConsumersAdvocate.org wanted to better comprehend how travel insurance works with this new “normal”. Their in-depth guide on the best travel insurance features a side by side comparison of multiple companies voted “best for” in different categories. The insurances were researched based on types of coverage, financial strength, pricing, reputation, and extra benefits like support lines and mobile apps (a must for future adventures!).

It’s important to highlight that with Covid-19 the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) add-on is considered a must for cancellation coverage. As the name itself suggests, it functions as one of the extra add on’s that allows you to cancel for any reason. It is always important to consider your travel insurance alternatives so you can travel worry-free and focus on the fun.

Is it wiser to travel to a domestic location?

The USA has many great locations that you could visit, from the best beaches in America, to amazing and awe-inspiring national parks. But, since the cases of the coronavirus have been reported in every state, you should know that even domestic travel increases the chances of spreading the virus. While experts agree that traveling close to home to a less-crowded place poses a lower risk, keep in mind that even state-mandated travel restrictions vary, so you should check the official state travel website for more information. Here’s some of the latest information:

  • Hawaii is opening up for tourists with COVID-19 testing
  • In Florida, a two-week-long quarantine is necessary for visitors from certain states
  • In Maine, visitors with a negative COVID-19 test aren’t required to self-isolate

Different sets of rules

Every country has its own set of rules right now. So, you have to know exactly the country you’re traveling to and follow the most current guidelines. Here aresome of the rules that are in force at the moment:

  • Some European countries that are major travel destinations are still off-limits to U.S. tourists, so it’s not the right time to travel to Greece, France or Italy
  • Visitors to the UK are required to self-isolate for two weeks
  • Iceland is extending the restrictions for the US tourists until at least July 1
  • Non-essential travelers are banned from entering Canada, but permanent residents or citizens of Canada are allowed entry with  a two-week-long quarantine
  • The Bahamas reopened July 1, and it appears that they won’t require testing

Hotels in the U.S.

Hotels have been deemed essential businesses since the beginning of the pandemic. However, in some states, there were certain restrictions for hotels. For example, they weren’t permitted to welcome regular guests, but only pandemic-related guests, like medical staff, or non-critical patients. Now that hotels are returning back to normal, even with enhanced cleaning practices, it’s important to protect yourself as much as possible. Be sure to clean the surfaces like doorknobs, tables, and light switches.

Renting a car

Renting a car is a low-risk way to travel, compared to using public transport that puts the passengers at risk. However, while person-to-person contact poses a greater risk, you should remember that the virus can remain on certain surfaces for days. Also, research also shows that it can remain in the air for an hour or so. For this reason, while car rental companies are carefully cleaning vehicles, you should also remember to wipe down all surfaces and increase ventilation, just in case.

What about flying?

The CDC and other health authorities are saying that flying is a good option, as there is no high risk of infection on airplanes. With the drop in air travel, it’s much easier to keep the suggested six feet between passengers, or in other words, maintain social distancing. Additionally, almost all international planes have HEPA filters that clean the air. Of course, you should still clean your hands and the surfaces that you touch frequently, and wear a mask.

Woman putting on a face mask
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Is wearing a mask mandatory?

Most airports and airlines require people to wear a mask. You might have noticed that there has been a debate on whether wearing a mask truly provides the protections against infection or not. However, the CDC advises everyone to wear masks and to keep the proper distance. While masks might not provide full protection, wearing masks can significantly help reduce transmission of the virus. Research shows that wearing a mask prevents the infection from spreading person to person. Regardless of whether this is the right time to travel, the right way to do it is with a mask.

Should you avoid cruises?

There were many reported and confirmed cases among passengers on cruise ships. For that reason, the CDC has issued a warning that advises travelers to avoid cruises for a period of time, especially for high-risk groups. Besides, most cruise lines seem to be waiting until the middle of September to start with their voyages again.

Is it the right time to travel if you want to avoid any inconvenience?

During the pandemic, some people were stuck in foreign countries unable to get back home, cruise ships were unable to dock, flights were canceled by the hundreds, etc. After all, these are peculiar andchallenging times, and no one knows what to expect in the near future. So, if you want to avoid any potential inconvenience, it might be smart to avoid any traveling for now if you can.

Suggestion

If you don’t have to travel, but still want to, choose a safer alternative. You can go visit a national park with people you’re already in contact with, such as your family members. As long as you stay out of contact with other people and frequently-touched surfaces, your trip should be characterized as lower-risk.

Conclusion

So is it the right time to travel again? Well, it’s not the best time to travel, that’s for sure. But in case your trip is urgent or you’ve decided to return home after living abroad, it’s still doable. Just try to follow all the safety measures, as their purpose is to protect you as well as other people.

Returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic

International relocation is never easy. Once you consider all the aspects you have to take care of, and all the issues you’ll have to face, you’ll soon see that it is one of the most complicated projects a person can undertake. Now, add to that the complexity of moving during a pandemic, and you will soon see why most moving companies don’t recommend dealing with it now. But, if you are truly keen on returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, there is a way that you can tackle it. And to help you make this a bit easier, we are going to go through the major points.

Returning home during the coronavirus pandemic

The important thing to understand about returning home during the coronavirus pandemic is that you need to plan carefully. While certain optimists hope that this will all blow over in a month or two, we could be looking at a pandemic that can take a full year to resolve. During this time, travel is limited, to say the least. Some countries allow their citizens to come back home, while others outright ban travel. And whatever the current situation is in your country, it can suddenly change. After all, two months ago, nobody thought that COVID-19 was anything serious. So, what we strongly recommend is that you plan carefully before you move.

Is it absolutely necessary to travel?

Once you do a bit of research, you will see that shipping your items to your home country can be much easier than completely moving there. If you have friends or relatives that can handle your items, you should consider finding a shipping company and arrange for their pickup. The biggest reason why countries either discourage or outright ban travel is that COVID-19 is highly contagious. Therefore, moving back home is much more dangerous than simply shipping your items. Our advice is to carefully consider whether traveling is the right decision.

How to prepare for the journey back home

If it is vital that you return home, along with your items, you need to prepare properly. First, we suggest that you go over the legal documentation required for returning home after living abroad. The last thing you need is to get stuck in an airport. So, make sure that you are actually able to come back home before you set out on your journey.

If you can relocate back home, you need to find a reliable company that can help you move anywhere. We would like to remind you again that international moving is arguably one of the most difficult types of relocation. Therefore, you need someone capable and reliable to help you out.

Looking for movers

The best place to start looking for movers is online. See which local moving companies offer international moving services and see which ones have the best ratings. Most companies offer free online estimates, but these should be taken with a grain of salt. At best, they will give you an idea of what your move will cost. But, the actual costs will be much more difficult to calculate, which is why they may differ substantially.

Keep in mind that not all moving companies can successfully deal with an international move, so ensure that the movers you hire have dealt with relocations similar to yours. Also, keep in mind that your movers need to work within the constraints that both your current and your home country have put in place. Therefore, your relocation might be much more complicated than you originally envisioned.

Safety measures

When returning home after living abroad in the middle of a pandemic, your primary concern should be staying safe. Luckily, doing so with COVID-19 is pretty straightforward. There are only a couple of aspects that you need to adhere to at all times:

  • Wash your hands as often as possible.
  • Keep your hands away from your face.
  • Wear a mask when spending time with strangers indoors.
  • Practice social distancing as much as possible.

Do this, and you are pretty much guaranteed to remain safe. Now, if you are a part of any high-risk groups for COVID-19, such as those with respiratory problems, you shouldn’t even consider moving. If you are considered at risk, the country you are currently in probably won’t allow you to move in the first place.

Packing

When it comes to your items, you only need to ensure that they are properly packed. In order to do this, there are two routes you can take. You can either choose to pack by yourself, which means both getting the necessary packing supplies and following a packing guide. Or, you can hire full-service movers and let them do the packing for you. If time is of the essence, which is probably the case since you need to move now, your best bet is to go with hiring professionals. That way, you will only have to bring essential travel items with you. By doing so, you will avoid rookie packing mistakes, and you will give yourself more time to prepare for your move.

What is returning home after living abroad going to be like

Once you come back home, you will probably have to spend some time in quarantine to ensure that you are free from COVID-19. The length and the necessity of quarantine will depend on the measures instated by your home country, so make sure to study up on them to know what awaits you. Once you move in, you will probably have to wait a while until you can change your legal documents. And, you probably won’t be able to see your relatives and friends for some time. So sit tight, and try to enjoy the fact that you are home.