I have four GIANT predictions that will permanently rock the travel industry as a result of COVID-19:

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Prediction #1 – I predict the airline $200 change fees will be permanently banned by the government –

All the major airlines except Southwest, prior to COVID-19, charged an average of $200 for someone to change a domestic airline ticket once it had been purchased. The virus has forced airlines to cancel thousands of flights and the airlines have voluntarily waived change fees in the hopes that people will reschedule flights in the future. However, I predict that now that the Federal Government is probably going to take some ownership in the airlines as part of providing them with billions of dollars in financial relief, that the government will use that leverage to also push for the elimination of change fees. Many people in Congress have been pushing the airlines even before the pandemic to stop charging change fees. In essence, I predict that Congress will let the passengers win something (no more change fees) in return for the airline bailout.

Prediction #2 – Those dastardly hotel resort fees will permanently disappear in 2020 –

One of the most hated fees in the travel industry is the hidden resort and destination fees of $25 to $75 that many hotels charge you when you check into a hotel. The COVID–19 viruses are hitting hotels just as hard as the airlines and just like the airlines, they are approaching the government for loans and grants to get through this. I hope the government uses this time to permanently ban hotels from charging hidden hotel resort fees in the future.

 

Prediction #3 – Many online travel sites will go out of business in the next 90 days –

Good luck if you use an online travel web site to make your travel reservations. Just this weekend we found out that Bookit.com was one of the first of what appears will be hundreds of casualties of online travel web sites that are highly under-capitalized and will soon go belly up.

Prediction #4 – More people will rent a car and drive to a business meeting than fly in the months of June and July –

Let’s face it. Flying in April and even May is toast for the airlines. Even if people are enabled to fly and the government says the “coast is clear” many travelers will not trust that the system is virus-free for an additional 30 days. With that being said I am predicting that for business travelers who are traveling within a roughly 650-mile radius will simply rent a car from National Car Rental and take to the open road instead of flying. In the next 90 days, there will be a rediscovery of driving similar to the 1950s and 1960s like we have never seen before. People will re-discover many of the small highways, diners, motels, ghost towns and beautiful vistas reminiscent of Route 66 that snaked from Chicago to LA in the glory days of Americana history. People will drive day trips instead of flying to cities like from Omaha to Chicago (467 mi.); Denver (541 mi.); Minneapolis (377 mi.); St. Louis (432 mi.) and Dallas (657 mi.).  But I do expect that once things turn back to normal and school starts in August that people will be back in airplanes and crammed into middle seats once more.

I just found 20 face masks and you will be surprised to know where –

This weekend the government called for people to consider wearing a face mask or bandana to add extra protection in the days and weeks ahead. Last week my wife made 45 cotton face masks for some of our employees at one of our other businesses. That was a lot of work, even for someone who loves to sew. This week as I was going through my briefcase I came upon an amenity kit that I received on a recent flight from the U.S. to Germany. That made me think. Every flyer that flies in premium seating on an international flight usually receives an amenity kit. In that kit is always a heavy cloth sleeping mask to keep the light out when you try to sleep on the plane. Guess what? If you take those sleeping masks and simply move them below your eyes so they cover your nose and mouth they become a perfect face mask to protect you in a COVID-19 world. If you don’t sew or have bandanas in your closet, see if you can find a sleep mask turned face mask in your travel luggage. Every face mask counts!

Yes, there is a silver lining coming from this mess –

As we stare at the biggest wave of the coronavirus tsunami about to hit us this week it is sometimes hard to come up with anything good happening from this. But I have found a few slivers of positive things. I have not gotten on an airplane in 30 days. Boy has it been so nice to not have to pack and get up at 3 am to catch a 6 am flight somewhere. Staying home has also allowed me to exchange airport food for homemade food at home. Never has a grilled steak on my Weber grill tasted so good as when I have the time to cook and enjoy great food at home.

 

My prayer is that you and your family are safe and healthy and that God opens all our eyes to the many blessings we enjoy today with family, friends and the simple things in life even while our world fights this COVID-19 monster.

 

 

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