Those Who Have To Travel For Work During COVID-19 Share Their Stories
By Kelsey Marie
A lot of us are now adjusting to a life working from home but not everyone is as fortunate. There are those in service positions who have to still show up for work despite the risks.
A specific group of workers travel for work and have been doing this since the COVID-19 pandemic.
CNN Travel spoke with pilots, cabin crew members and tour guides about their experiences with working during this time and this is what they had to say:
“I work as a flight attendant and travel for work. Most recently, I flew to Seattle where there weren’t too many people wearing masks in public at all. My family didn’t want me to come by for dinner because they read the news about the virus, so they wanted me to stay in my own apartment for a while. We are taking so many precautions now — wearing masks, disposable plastic gloves, normal glasses…we have to protect ourselves and the travelers.
The airline I work for is taking a lot of extra precautions. They are providing masks and gloves to staff to use while we are working and they’re also modifying the inflight service. For instance, they are cutting down on some of the services to minimize the interactions with the guests.
Due to all the canceled flights, my workload has dropped off. I used to fly five to six flights per month but, more recently, I’ve only flown twice a month. Sometimes, I get informed that my flight has been canceled really early, other times at the last minute.
Since I am a full-time employee, I am still getting paid my salary but I have a reduced salary temporarily.”
-Rey, Flight Attendant
“Working full-time as a tour leader in Japan, I conduct one-day tours in my home city of Kyoto and also longer group tours with about 14 people. Usually lasting around two weeks, our group tours start in Tokyo then travel around the country to five or six destinations.
All of our tour leaders have been following guidelines issued by the WHO and the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. We wash our hands regularly and make use of alcohol-based sanitizer, which is being provided at most train stations, shops, and restaurants.
All restaurants, cafes, and bars are also still open as usual, and although some establishments seem a bit quieter, the popular spots are still doing a roaring trade.
On my most recent tour, I couldn’t believe how wonderfully quiet things were everywhere we traveled.”
-Richard Famer, tour leader at InsideJapan Tours
CEO Of Travel-Based Company
“When I first heard about the coronavirus outbreak (in China), I was in Brazil. At that time, the outbreak hadn’t really affected the US so I continued traveling to events. At first, I feel like it was blown out of proportion, that it was just another flu. My thinking has evolved since then — it is more serious than I thought.
Since then, I have been limiting my travel to only the most critical of business needs. I am still planning to go to one of our hot spots for adventure tourism, Colorado, later this month to meet with our stakeholders. Instead of flying, I’m going to drive — it’s like a 22-hour road trip from the Seattle area where I live.
You can generally keep your distance when driving, so it feels safer than flying right now. Even so, I will wash my hands, keep my distance, stay healthy, hit the Vitamin C hard and get some exercise. Exercise is an immune booster — so just staying active is important to me.”
-Shannon Stowell, CEO of Adventure Travel Trade Association
“Due to the nature of my job as a commercial pilot, I have to travel all the time for work. In the past two months, I have flown to Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and all over India.
My company is taking lots of precautions and so am I. I wear a mask, sanitize my hands and try to keep my distance from the ground crew and the public.
I usually don’t eat any plane food anymore or interact with the cabin crew as much since they are interacting with the public directly. Now, I pack my own food at home and bring drinks with me.
Whenever I arrive at a destination, the first thing I do is take a bath so I feel clean. No matter what time it is — 2 a.m., 3 a.m., 4 a.m…no matter how late it is! I used to explore cities during my layover because I love to travel. But now I just stay in my hotel room.
It has been a struggle. Pilots don’t have the option to call in sick or work from home. And then there’s the emotional side of it as well. My family is so worried about me. I actually decided to stop telling them when I travel to places like China, Singapore or Malaysia.”
-Tarana Saxena, IndiGo pilot
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie