Strange as it may sound, you’re probably going to miss pandemic travel.
No, not the strict face mask rules, the seemingly endless quarantines and the testing requirements that didn’t always make sense. But admit it: There were things about the pandemic travel that were great.
“While the pandemic created many challenges, it definitely provided benefits for some travelers as well,” says Sertan Kabadayi, a frequent traveler and a marketing professor at New York’s Fordham University.
He says air travelers benefited the most from pandemic-related changes.
“Having fewer passengers on each flight meant much quicker and better-organized boarding and deboarding for the flights, and much faster luggage delivery upon arrival,” he says.
COVID-19 turned travel inside out. Prices plummeted. Travel policies became shockingly consumer-friendly. People were nicer, and they respected your personal space. Some – but not all – of those things will revert to pre-2020 travel norms once the pandemic fades.
“Pandemic travelers have enjoyed the simplicity of travel,” says Alan Fyall, a tourism marketing professor at the University of Central Florida. “Vacationing outdoors, in state and national parks, and going to uncrowded beaches. The hassles of much domestic and certainly international travel became a distant memory.”
Robert Herbst will miss the solitary experience of getting screened at LaGuardia Airport on a recent Friday morning. “I was the only person,” says Herbst, an attorney from Larchmont, New York.
“I will miss that,” he adds.
I will, too. I remember flying from Paris to Los Angeles last April. My three kids and I were the only passengers in the customs processing hall at Los Angeles International Airport, a cavernous hall generally packed with thousands of people before the pandemic.
I stopped to take a picture.
“Check it out, boys,” I said to my two sons, who were standing next to me. “You’ll never see it like this again.”
To which my 15-year-old replied, “Unless there’s a zombie apocalypse.”
For people like Eva Lerma, travel was so easy – at least in some respects. She’s a photographer based in Ann Arbor, Mich.
“The thing I would miss the most after the pandemic is over is getting tickets easily, without advance bookings,” she says. “I never enjoyed getting a ticket as much as I did during the pandemic. There were almost no seat reservations and bookings in advance, which made it easy for me to get a last-minute booking for any airline.”
Walt Bonora, retired federal government editor, will also have fond memories of the pandemic. He liked the lack of crowds in places that were always crowded, including his hometown of Washington, D.C.