Yes – It May Finally Be Time To Plan Travel Again

Earlier in the week I offered a detailed explanation of why it’s fine for some people to start planning some trips to certain destinations.

Nuanced takes don’t always do so well on the internet, but I’m happy with the analysis that I laid out why it can make sense to do limited domestic travel this summer if you aren’t living in a coronavirus hotspot, aren’t heading towards one, and are not in a high risk group (and do not live or work with people that are). I’m not telling anyone that they should travel for leisure but I don’t think the argument holds that no one should.

I laid out my thoughts in response to Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly declaring that air travel is safe. That same claim prompted Brian Kelly to weigh in and argue that you shouldn’t travel.

I don’t find his argument persuasive, and I think it’s a good exercise to hash this out in public to help folks make up their own mind.

Here’s what Brian suggests:

  1. There isn’t enough available testing.
  2. Travelers could unknowingly spread the disease.
  3. Information about COVID-19 is incomplete and confusing.
  4. The virus could mutate over time, making it harder to treat and prevent.
  5. It’s important to protect frontline workers.
  6. Better cleaning on airplanes is necessary.

Argument 1: There’s Not Enough Testing To Travel Now

Brian is worried that without testing someone on a plane might have the virus and spread it. That’s a concern we face even with adequate testing, and even in the grocery store, so I would have liked to know what level of testing would make Brian comfortable and why?

There’s no controversy over limited testing capacity. However relying on testing as a panacea isn’t realistic. Paul Romer’s re-opening plan involves 25 million tests per day, testing every American every other week. The math works beautifully, but that testing capacity won’t ever exist – and the logic works at a societal level but not to ensure that any particular person won’t have the virus because of the rate of both false positives and false negatives from tests (a function of the tests themselves but also errors in sample collection).

Indeed even a test that shows someone doesn’t have coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean that they do not have the virus, so implying that ‘if we had enough testing then travel would be completely safe’ is wrong. There aren’t going to be enough tests to test everyone getting on a plane any time this year, and even if there were the tests aren’t reliable enough to tell us what we’d want to know.

That’s why I would have liked to see Brian develop his idea further. What level of testing would make him feel safe to travel, and why?

Later in the video Brian suggests things would be better with temperature checks, and while those would be helpful in identifying people with one common symptom of the virus, since he elsewhere talks about the risk of asymptomatic spread I’m not sure why this would give him the comfort he seems to think that it would.

In any case Brian here is really just talking about travel by air where you’re stuck in a metal tube. This isn’t an argument at all against taking a road trip – drive to a city a few hours away, rent a house, maybe it has a pool, just something different to do?

More broadly he seems to be making an argument against being anywhere. Planes with seats as barriers between passengers and HEPA air filters, with everyone wearing masks, are probably safer than many other ‘opening up’ activities you might undertake. It may be safer than going to a restaurant and sitting indoors, or going for a haircut or going to the gym. It’s fair to say don’t do those things, stay home, but in many states people are now doing them – is travel a riskier activity than what people are already doing?

Argument 2: Masks Won’t Keep Us From Unknowingly Spreading The Virus

Brian says ‘makeshift’ masks ‘won’t control the spread of the virus’ because they’re not N95 masks, but that conflates what different masks do. Masks that most people are wearing will catch large droplets the wearer might emit, while wearing an N95 mask is going to filter out virus particles from being inhaled. That’s necessary in a health care environment where the virus might become aerosolized from intubation of patients and in virus-intense environments such as COVID wards in hospitals with many infected patients. While not a complete solution Brian is too quick to dismiss the benefit of mask wearing.

Separately he expresses the concern that “masks are not a part of our culture the way they have been in Asia for years” and this needs to change. Are masks of no help, or are masks a crucial tool to fight spread? I’m left confused on this point listening to Brian.

Argument 3: We’re Getting Confusing Information About The Virus

This is absolutely true – CDC and WHO were advising against use of masks, until they weren’t. This was largely a noble lie, to buy time where people weren’t buying N95 masks, so that governments could secure masks and health care institutions could secure personal protective equipment ahead of everyone else. The TSA is hoarding 1.5 million masks.

Early on it was thought that the virus spread almost exclusively by symptomatic patients, then new work began to find asymptomatic spread. The French government advised against taking ibuprofen, favoring acetaminophen instead, butt his wasn’t based on solid science at the time.

There are fairly robust results suggesting that smokers may be somewhat protected from the virus, perhaps because damage to the lungs from smoking giving the virus less healthy tissue to latch onto. This contradicts earlier beliefs about people with lung damage from smoking being more vulnerable.

We’ve learned a tremendous amount in a short period of time. Science that takes years is taking mere months. This is the first global pandemic in the true social media era, and much of scientific peer review is taking place on twitter.

That’s confusing to the general public, as Brian notes, for sure. We’re learning so much so quickly. That’s a good thing and as time passes it should make us more and more confident traveling not less confident. It means protocols are getting better.

Argument 4: Virus Mutations Means Things May Be Getting More Dangerous

Virus mutations usually become less dangerous. Viruses that are too lethal to their hosts don’t persist. There’s no scientific consensus that mutations so far have made the virus harder to treat. Rather than predicting that things will become more difficult, the truth is that treatments will become easier because of how much we’re learning about the virus quickly.

For instance tactics as simple as putting a patient on their stomach improves outcomes for those having difficulty breathing. Many patients are now started on breathing assistance much less extreme than use of a ventilator (ventilators were damaging lungs and often not helping). And treatments are being developed, and in the case of remdesivir, approved.

We’ll have more and better knowledge, and likely better treatments, in the coming months.

Argument 5: You’re Putting Employees At Risk If You Travel

Brian says ‘we need to protect front line employees’ and here I think what he’s saying is that someone who travels might have the virus and might expose someone working for an airline. That’s true as far as it goes. It’s why social distancing, masks, and cleaning are so important.

It’s also true that someone who goes to the grocery store might have the virus and infect a grocery employee. Or someone who goes to a restaurant might infect a worker there.

There’s an argument to be made that total lockdowns should continue, or at least continue to the greatest extent possible. That’s not a politically feasible argument, as we’re seeing not just in the United States but around the world as well.

The goal of lockdowns of course wasn’t to wrap all of society in a bubble. Lockdowns in the U.S. haven’t gotten the reproduction rate of the virus low enough to eradicate it. Lockdowns are merely slowing down the rate at which people get sick, and perhaps not reducing the total number of people who eventually contract the virus. That’s ok – we wanted to slow the spread so that the health care system didn’t get overwhelmed the way it did in Italy and in New York. Where there are excess ICU beds that’s one metric telling us we’re handling the virus well.

Lockdowns did get the reproduction rate down below one, by most estimates, so the current slow burn we’re experiencing is hopefully sustainable. If it turns out not to be we return to lockdowns.

In the meantime, there are livelihoods on the line and businesses that may not return, and dreams being crushed and those have consequences – including public health consequences too. This is an insidious virus and public policy responses involve tradeoffs, but Sara Nelson’s proposed ban on leisure travel is certainly a minority view and not one that’ll even be good for airline and airport workers (even as Delta self-servingly deploys this argument).

Ultimately this is just a subset of ‘if you go out of your house you might spread the virus’ and isn’t a different argument than not enough tests, or that masks aren’t protective enough. And here’s one flight attendant who says their biggest risk is making sure other flight attendants social distance from them rather than coming into contact with passengers.

Argument 6: Planes Aren’t Being Cleaned Well Enough

Brian worries that enhanced cleaning might not be “happening on every single flight” and “what about during the flight?” and inflight in the bathroom, since the virus can spread via fecal matter.

If he’s looking for a guarantee that a person can’t shed the virus on a plane and infect someone else, he’s right, there is no such guarantee. But the steps being taken by airlines to clean aircraft are unprecedented, including electrostatic spraying between domestic flights.

While not every airline is doing this on every flight yet, Delta committed it would happen on all its flights by May and American committed to June. Indeed Delta says it is happening on every flight now. It won’t be sustainable over time, but while I fault airlines for a lot of things the cleaning they’ve been doing over the last month is not one of those things.

As I wrote earlier evaluating the risks to travel I would avoid use of the aircraft’s lavatory inflight now, and that means sticking to shorter flights, but the risk that Brian is outlining isn’t different than what exists in most other activities. Grocery stores clean regularly throughout the day but not constantly. And in any case the primary transmission mechanism of the virus seems to be person-to-person via respiratory droplets, rather than from surfaces.

These Are All Good Concerns

Our government failed us. This was a massive failure perhaps on a greater scale than any government that’s come before. When it became clear that there was rapid person-to-person transmission of the virus, little was done. Travel bans were useless because they came too late to contain the spread. There was no ramp up in testing in fact the opposite is the case – the FDA and CDC together combined to limit testing to a government-supplied test that did not work. No European government was prepared for this either, so I don’t think this is about political party.

As a result we’re dealing with a nasty virus that seems to cause the human body to attack itself, and it’s leading to more than just respiratory failure but also to organ failure and strokes.

We’re learning more about the virus rapidly, improving treatments, and most important so far have adapted our behaviors to distance and reduce contact and that has prevented the health care system from becoming overwhelmed.

Where we are today should factor into your evaluation of risk in all of the activities you undertake, whether it’s going to the drugstore or considering whether to go to a restaurant or barber shop as they re-open in many communities – as well as travel.

If you go to work you have some risk. If you go to the gas station you have some risk. If you go out of your house you have some risk. Not everyone with the virus spreads it equally. There are a small percentage of super-spreaders.

Not all travel entails the same risks either. South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Arkansas and West Virginia just aren’t as challenging as Chicago, Miami, New Orleans or the New York area even though New York seems to be improving. The most salient characteristic of the novel coronavirus is its heterogeneity. It is different in different places and for different people. And our response needs to be calibrated as well.

At the end of the day it seems that trip shaming is waning, and that’s a good thing. Some people should consider traveling to some places based on their circumstances, and there are perfectly valid reasons for others not to do so.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Re: Testing – I think we need to have a low enough case count where contact tracing can be adequately done and testing of all those can happen. In other words, if I was next to or directly in front of or behind someone on an airplane who subsequently tested positive a week or so later, contact tracing would include checking with the airline, getting the contact info of everyone who was around the person and urging those people to go get tested.

    In a related note, if contact tracing does become a big thing, it wouldn’t shock me to see Southwest implement some kind of seat tracking – whether through assigned seats, FAs scanning BPs during flight and noting the seat, etc.

  2. I’m still not sure where I stand on this issue, but refuting an argument put forth by TPG is like shooting fish in a barrel.

  3. @Gene the conclusiion or the arguments, that masks are no help but people need to wear them more and that we should be especially concerned about its mutations?

  4. As a practical matter, eventually, I am going to travel again, whether it is safe or not. Most likely in 2021. Cowabunga.

  5. It is always better to be safe than to be sorry, especially in the middle of a crisis like this.
    Please let’s not travel this summer and help each other stay safe, so we can actually travel after summer.
    This summer is just too early.

  6. At the end of the day until there is an effective vaccine for the currant mutation of the CV19 flying and other compressed gatherings of people will be suspect at best when it comes to preventing the spread of CV19, Period.

    Let’s not kid ourselves we need that vaccine conversely we need to get people back to work otherwise the world is in for a long slog back. Yes I know it may spike the numbers but they will also level back off. So many countries have pumped so much cash into their economies masking the underlying problem GDP.

  7. ghostrider5408 – a vaccine may have limited effectiveness, great for society of a whole but only modest individual protection, we’ll see. However if we have strong treatments that substantially improve patient outcomes that may be even more important (and also far more likely and quickly).

    there’s a big difference for spread between a gathering on a plane where people are face forward and a gathering like CES where the whole point is to shake hands etc.

  8. I’d think people who travel will now start to bring wipes with them and clean their airplane seat/tray themselves (similar to how Naomi Campbell cleans her seat).
    I do think all of us will travel again though my friends who are itching to travel soon are doing so more to visit family/loved ones rather than for vacation leisure.

  9. @Gary “Lockdowns haven’t gotten the reproduction rate of the virus low enough to eradicate it.” – that’s true enough in the US, but for example HK, NZ, and other places have (with a combination of test & trace, centralized quarantines, perhaps some luck) been able to effectively eradicate the virus – within their borders.

    Now, that may simply not be possible in the US (due to size, cultural reasons, whatever) and so “flatten the curve, hope for effective therapies” may be our best bet, but it’s misleading to say that lockdowns + additional public health measures can’t get us to a place where people can not only travel, but feel safe going to restaurants etc.

  10. I will feel safe to fly again when I read a trip report from YOU on a plane Gary.

    Why? Because you a confirmed germaphobe in the best of times, and a guy with one job and at least two businesses where you can work remotely. You’ve also traveled the hell out of the world for 20+ years now. You know you aren’t missing anything by taking a year or two off until this all settles down. Add to that a toddler who I’m sure you adore and are enjoying spending *even more* time with. You have literally no reason to even leave your house, let alone get on a plane. To anywhere. And I strongly suspect you aren’t, and won’t.

    How am I so confident in this? Because it basically describes my situation.

    I guess I am bothered by those of us with the supreme privilege of being able to bunker down *indefinitely* telling others that it may be fine to book travel again.

    I think Brian is speaking from the heart. I suspect if you were to ask it, your heart would tell you that it agrees with him.

  11. I never thought I would say this, but TPG is right. I live in New York, 6.7 miles (10km) from the first hot spot. My message > STAY HOME (excuse my yelling).

    @gary, you live in Texas, where your governor has made some serious errors in judgement. I live in a state where Americans have grown to trust Governor Cuomo; and Phil Murphy, Governor of New Jersey. The wise man would suggest staying home. Staying safe. Maybe because we live with such unusual conditions where we can see what happens to those that got the Coronavirus.

    I’m sorry that all of this becomes a Democratic or Republican debate.

    I’ve been a frequent flyer for business since 1988. I love to fly. I love to visit destinations around the world. While I’m itchy to go somewhere (anywhere), I’m going to put travel plans on hold. Yes, it’s killing me to say it, but I want to live to see a day where we can get up and go again.

    To readers here that want to resume life as it was, good luck and best wishes.

  12. @dhammer53 – if you read my post I suggest that New Yorkers (who haven’t had and recovered from the virus) probably shouldn’t travel, and people shouldn’t travel to New York. Heterogeneity is key. As for Cuomo he’s been strong on TV, but forcing nursing homes to take COVID patients released from hospitals? Imposing state income taxes on health care workers who came to New York to volunteer to help? I’m glad you support your governor but I think different approaches are appropriate for different people in different places.

  13. Your arguments seem to be: 1) “people are acting with murderous stupidity in various other ways, so therefore, according to Logic, acting in this murderously stupid way is a fine idea that I support”; and 2) “yes, okay, TECHnically, there are ways not to murder many people, but they’re not ‘politically feasible,’ so whatever, back to murder.”

    You write: “If you go to work you have some risk. If you go to the gas station you have some risk. If you go out of your house you have some risk.” Uh, yeah. That’s why you’re not supposed to be going to work, or the gas station, or out of your house.

    If we start doing this sh*t before there’s a vaccine and/or effective treatment and/or enough testing to make contact tracing practicable, millions of people will die (or possibly tens of millions, or possibly almost everyone, depending on reinfection rates/virulence), and obviously, the economic impacts of that will vastly exceed the already-awful impacts of the current stay-at-home orders.

    So we pretty much have two choices: a) stay at home and tank the economy, or b) don’t stay at home, tank the economy, and also produce millions of corpses, including your friends and loved ones and very possibly you.

    It sucks that there aren’t better options, but there really don’t seem to be, and if people don’t accept that, the results will likely be apocalyptic beyond imagining.

  14. It’s a powerful statement about integrity when one prominent travel blogger (Brian) says not to travel, and another prominent travel blogger (Gary) says it’s OK, when you consider that both depend on people traveling for their readership.

  15. @tim – I say it is ok for some people in some places going to certain other places, please don’t mischaracterize my position. I also do not depend on people traveling for my livelihood, I think that’s important to know. Brian also does not own TPG, and has a contract with his employer, though perhaps incremental bonuses are at stake for him based on revenue rather than page views I cannot say.

    Beware mood affiliation!

  16. Stay home. Desirable destinations will still be there next year, and the year after. Unless travel is essential, ie life and death, it shouldn’t happen.

  17. @Gary.

    I read the entire entry. Is Governor Cuomo perfect about all the issues you stated above? No, and many of us agree on that point. But let’s not balance that with the hard issues.

    I wonder if anyone has seen the serious Coronavirus out breaks at the meat packing plants in middle America? All those people contracting the virus, and the governors of those states don’t seem to give a $ hit?? Talk about putting your head in the sand.

    Maybe if their boy (here comes the editorial comment) Trump told them to close up, they would. It would save lives where you can see an immediate result. Alas, I’m just posting on the internet, so nobody except readers here will read and agree/disagree.

    CC: Governors of Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Mississippi, Nebraska. WAKE UP.

  18. I will not get on an airplane, ride in a taxi, rent a car, stay in a hotel room, or eat at a restaurant until the virus is under control. For me, travel is just not worth the risk. If others can handle the risk, more power to them, but I don’t want them telling me I’m being over-cautious.

  19. IMHO, TPG is right about (1) and (2).

    1. Testing

    “…so I would have liked to know what level of testing would make Brian comfortable and why”

    Every.single.person about to board a plane must have been tested recently (preferably testing would be done just prior to boarding!). My medical institution sent out a survey asking employees to name their single most important determinant as to whether they would feel safe enough to return to work. The overwhelming response was “testing, testing, testing”, and that is not hard to understand. If one is going to spend hours working in the same area with others, one would like to know that (a) they themselves are not infected and a threat to others, and (b) that others are not infected and a threat to him/her or everyone else. Without testing, returning to work would be a terrible daily ordeal of nerve and anxiety, if one is unsure about one’s co-workers. The analogy carries directly to being on a plane, but even more so due to the limited and confined space.

    “…indeed even a test that shows someone doesn’t have coronavirus doesn’t necessarily mean that they do not have the virus”

    That just means that the test is lousy and a better test needs to be used or developed, which should figure in the assessment of benefit-to-risk ratio. It is definitely better to test everyone even with a less than perfect test than to allow untested people with unknown status to roam around.

    2. The “Typhoid Mary” Syndrome, i.e., asymptomatic carriers can unwittingly infect others.

    I think that the effect of (1) above, i.e.testing, takes care of (2) to a very large extent, and then using masks can be even more effective because one is starting from a greatly diminished number of those who are infected.

    (3)-(6) are worth keeping in mind, but they either can be addressed effectively or are not tangible risks, e.g., there have been several scientific reports suggesting that the likelihood of CV-19 mutating was relatively low. Nevertheless, I take issue with this claim:

    “Virus mutations usually become less dangerous.”

    Do you know why the misnamed ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic of 1918-1920 was the deadliest in modern times? Well, it was because the virus in the “second wave” that accounted for most of the deaths was a more lethal and virulent mutated variant of the original!

    Daily life is full of risks, but few willingly take chances on activities that present more than a ‘normal’ level of risk that they could end up dead, based on statistics. Sitting next to someone who is untested for CV-19 for an extended period of time is a higher than ‘normal’ risk, because, I am proud to say, researchers at the medical institution that I work for are about to publish the results of a study that has uncovered why the Coronavirus is so much more *contagious* than even the original SARS virus:
    “After closely analyzing SARS-CoV-2’s genetic lineage, the study’s authors say that SARS-CoV-2 combines the deadliness of the first SARS virus that emerged in China in 2003 with the contagiousness of HCoV-HKU1, a super contagious human coronavirus strain that hardly causes any symptoms at all. Unsettlingly, SARS-CoV-2 is a mixture of the worst that both of these strains had to offer.”


  20. I’m flying every week. Flew on Monday, flying again in… 5 hours.
    I’ll spend a week driving around the midwest, then fly home.

    You know what I’ll do next week?
    Same thing.

    The week after?
    Same thing

    See, not only is it not ‘scary’ – it’s pretty normal.
    Go to airport, get on plane, sit down, arrive at connecting airport, connect, sit down and you’re there.

    There is nothing interesting or notable about it.
    It’s still the safest way to travel.
    So, I really really question ANY travel blogger, who is not traveling NOW.

    I’ve said it since January – this is easily some of the best traveling I’ve ever done.
    It’s painless, everyone is NICE and THANKFUL for the business. It’s wonderful.

    I just, I don’t understand the group think of people saying ‘omg, it’s scary’
    Yeah, I guess spiders are scary too… until you watch them.

    It’s an airplane guys and girls. There is nothing interesting or dangerous about it.
    I’ve been flying every week since January. 9-10 countries and I’ll finish all 50 states this month.

    It’s zero drama. I’m actually doing it, every week. I can’t *imagine* why people are listening to people who aren’t actually traveling??

    Just get on a plane, it’s basically the same as always.
    I genuinely don’t understand what the fuss is about still.

  21. @dhammer53 – meat packing plants have seen outbreaks the world over, people often work in close proximity in not the cleanest environments and perhaps air conditioning flow is an issue there too?

  22. Radical idea: Ask scientists rather than travel bloggers/experts in travel economics. Follow empirical data. I trust the scientists more than “let everyone make their own decision” and “let’s have Gary tell us why it’s ok.” Science is definitely on the side of containing this. I’m usually not a fan of TPG but Brian Kelly is spot on in this case because he follows the science.

  23. It seems Gary doesn’t get safety. It is useless to debate it with him. Hot spots can pop up anytime, anywhere with no notice.

    If his daughter was at risk of dying from coronavirus would he put her or himself on a plane under the current conditions? Of course not. He’d want a very high level of certainty that it was safe. That is what reasonable people need to travel again – a high level of certainty it is safe for themselves, their loved ones, and others they come into contact with. His arguments don’t provide certainty or anything close.

    And comparing travel to going to the grocery is invalid. We must eat. We don’t have to travel.

  24. What is so hard here? If someone has to travel, they should. Otherwise travel is a luxury not a necessity so they should not. Its not a matter of personal choice. If you choose to travel you may hurt yourself. But you also may hurt others who you pass the virus on to.

  25. To the people quoting ‘Science’

    Have you looked at the data yourself?

    – The fatality rate has dropped in line, almost exactly with the ‘flu’ (Influenza)
    Read Stanform, USC, UPMC studies and reports in the last 2-3 weeks.

    – The people who have died, have (99.X%) been over 60, with pre-existing conditions.

    – More people have died *naturally and normally* in the last 36 HOURS, than have died total of coronavirus in 6 months. (seriously)

    On the flip side:
    – Depression is going up
    – Suicide rates are going up
    – Crime is increasing.
    – Unemployment is at an all time post war high.

    When you follow the Science, and the Data, the picture we *actually* see is…. infinitely less scary than what you were led to believe in February.

    But, you aren’t talking about *that* science right?
    You’re talking about some other science?

    Care to share your data?

  26. @George sez, likely with a straight face: I’m flying every week. Flew on Monday, flying again in… 5 hours. You know what I’ll do next week Same thing. The week after? Same thing. See, not only is it not ‘scary’ – it’s pretty normal.”

    By George, sophistry is on the resurgence in CV-19 America! Taking advantage of the fact that one cannot prove a negative, we have been exposed to all kinds of sophistic bravado!

    @George, all it means is that you have not been exposed or that you happen to have an effective immunity against the virus. It does not mean that “it’s pretty normal”, unless you consider 75K people dead to date or about as many that died on 09/11/01 dying daily ‘normal.’

    To give you some food for thought and introspection, I will leave you with this headline to real news:

    “Anti-lockdown protester – who called coronavirus a ‘political ploy’ – dies after contracting Covid-19”


  27. Personally, I would love to come back to travel. I have cancelled my leisure May 6 trip to Indonesia on May 4 because HKG is essentially closed and tourists cannot enter Indonesia. All our business meetings are now via Zoom or postponed till later this year. But once the international borders would open I will jump on the plane!

  28. Well, this blog post worked in striking a nerve with the panicked fearful folks for sure. Saying things in the comments like:
    We should never travel until there is a vaccine.
    We shouldn’t travel for 2 years or more until this is all over.
    We have to test everyone every day or whatever limit is put on that.

    None of those can exist. We as a human race for most places on the planet have done a good job of slowing down this flu virus that was really bad and really over-hyped. It wasn’t a Spanish Flu level event. I would argue it wasn’t even a black swan event except for the social media impact that caused the panic. They may never be a fully effective vaccine and even if there is one there will always be another flu season. The flu viruses around next winter might not be as contagious or they could be even worse. If we wait 1 or 2 years more until any of us travel there won’t be any travel. The airlines, cruise lines, train lines, and most hotels won’t be in business. Testing everyone all the time isn’t a solution and won’t work. Imagine the chaos when a person is halfway through a trip to say Rome or Toledo and because the fail the temperature test at the airport they can’t continue the business trip or vacation. They also can’t even go home. What if they are at a cruise port in say Aruba. It just won’t work to reject passengers like that.

    Millions have lost jobs over this situation but there continue to be smug folks that sit at home and pass judgement and even shame those that are going back out into society. They may have a change of attitude when they lose their jobs, the doordash or amazon deliveries all of a sudden stop coming. Not enough what if the trash pickup stops or the internet line goes dead? What if you get sick or get hurt and go to the local clinic or hospital only to find out that they are no longer in business? How far are you willing to damage society. That is where we are headed with this. It’s really a miracle that the banks are failing at this point in time.

    The Points Guy is an OK blog but I don’t really go to them for advice on medical issues. It’s time to move on, carefully, but move on regardless. Sweden might be a good example of what to do in the future. CNN doesn’t like that they didn’t lockdown like other countries in Europe but there is no way to avoid this flu for the entire population anyway.

  29. @daninMCI.

    I’m one of the smug people you refer to. I’ll be around to travel when the time is right, because I’ll be alive to do so. If you want to play the odds, be my guest.

  30. @Jeff there’s a lot of things you can say but that the TPG video was more ‘based on science’ than what I’ve written is probably the least plausible of those things. If you think what I’ve written is somehow inconsistent with ’empirical data’ then would you care to share which things I’ve written, and which data?

  31. Anyone who wants to travel or get on a plane… be my guest. Your disregard for your fellow Americans is stunning. May heaven help you and all those you interact with.

  32. @Howard : “The fatality rate has dropped in line, almost exactly with the ‘flu’ (Influenza)”

    Sure, for every study you cite, I can cite another saying something different. Have the humility to accept that we don’t know yet. You can debate appropriate measures, sure, but to conclude that it is overhyped and that the death rate is the same as the seasonal flu is wrongheaded.

    Every idiot on the internet thinks he/she is an epidemiologist and scientist. The country could have stayed open and minimized economic harm had we had a robust public health system that implemented testing and contact tracing immediately. We as a country failed and we’re dealing with the consequences. We get the leadership we deserve. And I don’t believe the situation would have been any different had we had a president of another party. The people in this country are too individualistic and have no clue what freedom actually means. We are a spoiled lot. Not that any other country is much different.

  33. To the person who said this is an “unmitigated disaster “

    I think a lot of people agree with you, but for the opposite reasons you would think….

    Again, Using a thing called science, data and facts: less people have died WORLDWIDE of Coronavirus, in 6 entire months, than have died naturally and normally in the last 2 days.

    Less people.

    I realize people screaming “safety!! Everything for safety”. don’t listen to facts, logic or reason when they are hyper aroused .

    They are emotional people, with no Logic, who just demand other people do what they want, for dubious and unfounded reasons.

    If we use science or data, this virus almost makes it to the top 50 ways you might die this year.

    Yes, let’s totally stop the works for that.

    I bet you think emperor is wearing nice clothes today.

  34. Breaking news: Guy who makes his money on travel and free markets tells people to travel and open up markets. More at 11. Yawn.

  35. DCS –
    “Virus mutations usually become less dangerous.” – Is a true statement. The Spanish Flu was an outlier.

    Take, for example, a virus that has a mutation that makes it particularly deadly to its human host and kills the host within a few hours of infection. The virus needs a new, healthy host for its descendents to survive. If it kills its host before the host infects others, that mutation will disappear.

    When a virus mutates, its new genetic changes usually cause it to be less harmful, or even harmless

    Daily positive cases of covid19 as a percent of total daily tests continues to fall nationally, a very good sign as covid testing expands. Declining positivity could be a leading indicator of an epidemic starting to decline. 10% is still high but it’s coming down at a steady pace

    Hopefully indicating we make get a summer reprieve


  36. Those of us, whom I suspect constitute the majority, who love travel, buy our tickets with actual money (sure I use points when I can, but I go where I want and pay what it costs) will be cautious. I, for one, will not set foot on a plane until I am confident that the scientific community (my son is a doctor at Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital so I have an inside track on actual data) has a good handle on how, when, and why the disease spreads and works its way thru the population. And, BTW, the industry mends some of its ways (like the filthy first class seats that I routinely see on domestic US flights). Clean planes, a vaccine, antibody tests that work at least most of the time are prerequisites for my reentry.

    If the airlines can make a market appealing to the yahoos who routinely plague the comments section here, with apparently no push back from Gary, then have at it. I don’t want to sit next to your bloody support turkey nor do I want to sit next to your uncovered face knowing that you have 0 interest in cooperating to make travel a bit safer. So demand your rights, grab your support pig and your tiki torch, ditch your mask and head for the airport. Yahoos gonna yah and hoo, but I ain’t spending my money on travel til I can feel a bit safer. Might take a year, might take two, but it ain’t this summer.

  37. The argument that people getting on a plane are disregarding their fellow travelers is flawed – everyone else on that plane has equally made a conscious decision to be there as well. If they don’t want the risk, they can equally chose to stay at home (including the crew). I’m not advocating for people with illness or symptoms to board a plane, but this has always been the case/risk when ill people decide it’s OK to travel

  38. @Howard,

    Stop just making stuff up- your lies are dangerous.

    Look at the science. As of May 6, 1 out of every 3 daily deaths are from Coronavirus –

    1,739 people died in the US of Coronavirus yesterday, May 7th- that’s more than of any other single cause. There were 28,420 new cases.

    Making any comparisons between annual death rates from other diseases and the deaths from Coronavirus is deceptive because most of the deaths have happened in the last month. I think you know that, but you want to lie and exaggerate to try and make a dangerously wrong point.

    Similarly, you make a random claim that suicides are up- they are not. Depression is up? Who knows- sure, no one wants to stay at home, and losing your job sucks, but there’s absolutely no scientific proof of either of these at this point.

    As for fatality rate, that’s almost impossible to determine given current level of testing. It’s almost assuredly less than the simple math of 76K deaths/1,263K cases = 6% mortality rate. If you say we’ve only detected 1 out of 10 cases, you’d drop to 0.6% mortality rate (near Gary’s theory of 0.5%). But then I think you also have to double the number of deaths, to account for all the untracked mortality (unexplained mortality rates have more than doubled in major outbreak areas). So that takes you back to 1% mortality rate. Any way you look at it, Coronavirus is multiple time more fatal than flu (0.1%).

    As for 99.X% of the people dying being over 60- that is utter nonsense. I could not find latest data, but on April 14th, NY published a study showing that 28% of the deaths were younger than 64. Almost 5% of the deaths were younger than 44- you are just making dangerous stuff up again.

  39. Typical hysteria.
    It took DECADES to develop a vaccine after the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic. That did not stop people from traveling. In fact, all the personal protection like masks where also put aside after a while.
    Life goes on, with or without over-entitled whiners like Brian Kelly.

  40. I do not feel safe flying in the future as long as their is no security that I would not be infected. Wearing masks for many hours would not secure me. There is no gurantee that airlines will clean their planes properly and adequatly. The air circulation in the plane is not good even now with a pandemic on our back. There is no reliable filters to catch virus particles during the flight. Having a meal or drink onboard means taking off my masks which will expose me! So we have to eat and drink plenty before the flight?? It is not about having social distancing onboard in whatever seat configuration. The way we fly before the pandemic is over! The virus makes travelling the old way obsolete and hazardous.
    Do not get me wrong, I love to fly again, but only if am and the other travellers in my flight are ALL healthy and safe!

  41. The results are in! Howard and George are the only two rational people on this thread. As I’ve been saying for over two months, the reactions to this scam-demic from the bulk of society is pathetic.

  42. Gary,

    You touch briefly on this, but part of my reluctance to travel leisurely for the near future is only partially about my risk of catching the disease. For sure that is a worry, but what I struggle with is my societal responsibility as a potentially unwitting carrier to other regions. For instance, my friends want to reschedule to Cozumel for diving this July because the word is the country will re-open June 1. I would love to go to Cozumel, but I also feel I have a personal responsibility to be part of the solution to making sure the spread doesn’t get out of control, especially in places that are ill-suited to manage a health crisis. It is not fair of me to go down and introduce, or contribute to the spread of the virus if it will overwhelm their region and healthcare system, especially since my reason to visit is leisure travel.

    A lot of what we need to make decisions on are around mitigating the risk. Crowds of less than 50, makes it less likely to help the virus spread. Wearing a face mask in public, the same. Grocery shopping is essential, but how and how often I do it varies the risk. For some, travel is required for their job. For others, they need to go take care of a sick relative. Traveling to Mexico so I can go diving, not what I would put in the essential category (though I REALLY want to!). The more we can make decisions at the individual and societal level around what is necessary and essential, versus things that we want or would like to do, the more we can help mitigate the spread and severity of the pandemic.

    The economic argument is a strong one, but there is a give and take to that as well. The more we open up the economy, the more the virus will spread. That is some of what people are saying about why we need to travel to places like Cozumel, which are so dependent on tourism. One way I’ve decided to help mitigate that is to donate money to charities and businesses I frequent there. At the end of the day, those places, want and need my money, they don’t need to see me (though that is a nice by-product).

    There are no easy answers to any of this, nor is it black and white. I feel the more we can do personally to limit or reduce what we would consider non-essential, the more we can help reduce the speed and impact of the spread. At the end of the day, the measures we are taking are not about eliminating the virus, it’s about spreading out and slowing down the infection rate so we don’t overwhelm and risk collapsing our health care system. We are buying time until a more permanent solution like a vaccine can be developed, as well as effective treatments to reduce death and severity of the virus.

    There was a great article in the Atlantic that I’m posting below that discusses a lot of the issues in the comments section. Some of it around scientific studies and how we are using them, to how varying the death rate is. A good read and something to ponder. For full disclosure there are some references to how the administration has handled the crisis, but if you can look past that piece, it’s a great perspective on why we are struggling so much with all the components of this pandemic.

Comments are closed.