THURSDAY, APRIL 2, 2020 --
On the day after 9/11, I went to the little desk in a San Francisco hotel room and bashed out a column called We Will Fly Again
. It was bursting with determination, a few okay turns of phrase on deadline and the honest belief that we would
I am less determined now. Good turns of phrase elude me. And, honestly, I am not sure we will fly again.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not depressed. I'm not defeated. I refuse to bend to a virus or allow the White House's despicably narcissistic response to this crisis deter me.
I know that I will fly again. Someday, somehow, some way, some place. But I'm not ignorant. Almost 20 years on, I can't speak for "we" now.
Not all of us will fly again. Some of us will die from this disease. Some of us will decide, due to age or fear or exhaustion, that their flying days are over. Some of us will be grounded because our jobs have disappeared or our work has changed and no longer requires travel.
This is sobering stuff, a reality very much different from 9/11. The terror attacks that day hit us with a brutal right hook that knocked us down and left us staggering.
But this thing? It's like a bully who elbowed us in the gut, pushed us to the floor, jumped on our chest and began raining down blow after blow after blow. It never seems to end. It is relentless and it forces us to be clear-eyed about things.
Yesterday's gone and there's no tomorrow. There's just today. And today is bad. All the todays have been bad lately and we'll just have to ride it out for a while.
I have a stack of papers on my desk with a cache of statistics about travel in 2019. They are fascinating--but they're already relics. Who cares if airline passenger traffic reached 1.1 billion flyers in 2019, up 3.9 percent over 2018. How does any of that matter when U.S. daily traffic has fallen below 150,000
I have another stack of papers on my desk with mindless predictions about what travel will look like on the other side of the Coronavirus. Predictions on how long before we can reach a billion annual travelers again. Deep dives into the future of our airports. Pundits opining about which airlines survive and what they'll look like. Detailed analyses of how the lodging industry, with complex and overlapping financial constituencies and branding strategies, will change in the coming years.
It's bullshit. There's no tomorrow. No one knows anything about tomorrow. Not about airlines or hotels or airports or anything.
All we have is today. And today there is no travel. Hotel occupancy has fallen to 22 percent nationwide. Airline traffic, nearly 2.28 million passengers on March 1, is infinitesimal today.
Today is the Javits Center in New York being a hospital instead of a convention center. Today is the furious effort to convert Chicago's McCormick Place into a hospital by the end of the month.
Today is 38 states on lockdown including, finally, Georgia, where idiot governor Brian Kemp claims he really didn't know asymptomatic people could spread the Coronavirus. No matter that the Centers for Disease Control is headquartered in Georgia and warnings came even from the White House as early as January 31
Kemp is a fool, but there's plenty of foolishness to go around these days. Here's that colossal idiot Joe Brancatelli
in late February planning a March trip to Italy. What an ass he is. What was he thinking? Why would anyone listen to him?
Yesterday's gone and there is no tomorrow. Right now, there is only today. Today there is no travel.
The governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is also a medical doctor. His stay-at-home order lasts until June 10. If I were a betting man, I'd bet today is going to last at least until June 10.
Anyone who tells you he knows what travel will look like after at least two more months of lockdown is as dumb as Georgia governor Kemp or that blathering Brancatelli.
I've nothing else to offer today. Except for a recurring Star Trek
Bones McCoy is peering at a tube and says, "Jim, I think I have the vaccine, but I need to test it." And Spock volunteers and the vaccine works and in comes Scotty and he grabs a beaker and says, "Doctor, does it make a good mix with Scotch?"
I wake up every day with some version of that dream. McCoy finds the Coronavirus cure just in time to cut to commercial. Then we fly away in the Starship Enterprise, the exit music comes up and everyone boldly goes where they never went before.
But I woke up today and it didn't happen.
And there is only today.