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Global Traveler’s Globility Board Shares Thoughts, Suggestions and More for Airlines as COVID-19 Continues to Affect the Travel Industry

by Kimberly Inlander

May 7, 2020

Photo: Joe Sohm | Dreamstime.com

Travel Tips

In 2012, Global Traveler compiled a group of its subscribers to serve as its Globility Board. After an interview and vetting process, the members have served the publication in many capacities: as a focus group for clients, as a resource for articles and, now, to provide thoughts, suggestions and more for tourism boards as they face the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.


Below is the fourth in a four-part series with our Globility Board. They also came together to offer support for hotels, tourism boards and cruises.


On our airline committee was Steve and Angela White, a husband and wife based in Los Angeles that travel frequently for both business and leisure; Iris Childress, a cloud computing engineer with Microsoft Corp.; Tom and Celeste Linhard, another husband and wife, from Colorado, with elite status with United Airlines; Eric Ludwig, who achieved a personal goal in 2019 of visiting more countries than his age; Paula Vogel, recently retired from a career in international project management; and Dorothy Wood, a business leader in her Virginia Beach community.


The conversation started with everyone sharing their thoughts on the aid packages offered by the federal government that would benefit, in some ways, the travel industry. The general consensus? It’s not enough. It won’t help cruise lines, there are questions on how it supports hotels and there are still unknowns.


Which airlines do our committee members think have the best crisis messaging? One thing the group is critical of is converted messages from companies in an attempt to express concern. All agreed they’d received a lot of messaging from United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines, with Vogel noting Alaska Airlines provided very specific messaging. Hawaiian Airlines was immediately mentioned by Angela White when the committee was asked which airline they would fly first following the easing of travel restrictions. All expressed trepidation about trying to contact the airlines about future flights for fear of long wait times. American Airlines was incentivizing travel for the future by offering credits greater than the original value.


The Linhards will opt for a Star Alliance airline first, but aren’t yet booking flights for the future because they don’t want to be stuck with vouchers for the same routings should things change. Childress, on the other hand, was taking advantage of airfare sales now to book flights for November.


At the time of our meeting, airlines had yet to announce plans for extending frequent-flyer status; all committee members were hoping for those announcements to come soon, and wishes were since granted from several of the large airlines.


Will the current situation cause airlines to consolidate? Tom Linhard thinks that may be the case in the future for Southeast Asian airlines, and some reported hearing some chatter about an unnamed U.S. airline interested in consolidation with Alaska Airlines.


Another point of absolute agreement? Travelers want prevention. How can airlines make them feel safer? Some of the suggestions mentioned were taking temperatures, stricter and published cleaning policies, providing disinfecting wipes to travelers, stop overcrowding planes and stop selling middle seats (many airlines have since instituted this policy), look into ways to improve filtration and require crew and passengers to wear masks, another policy recently instituted by a number of airlines.


What suggestions do you have for airlines in the face of the COVID-19 crisis? Share with us at letters@globaltravelerusa.com.


Along with the Globility Board, we here at FXExpress Publications, Inc. cannot wait to #ComeBacktoTravel, and have you all #ComeBacktoGT, #ComeBacktoTrazee and #ComeBacktoWF.


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