by Matt Barkett

February 14, 2022

I had the opportunity to fly to Washington, D.C. on business recently and was reminded of how much things have changed in the travel process since the pandemic hit. Sure, there were the obvious signs of the restrictions in place – masks, social distancing signs, etc. – but I also noticed a few things that surprised me, and not all in bad ways. Even the “new normal” provides opportunities to do things differently. Here are a few observations that struck me on this three-day visit to be prepared for if you are starting to emerge back on the business travel circuit:

  • Rules are different everywhere. In Washington, every indoor space requires a mask and proof of vaccination (I didn’t see anything that allowed negative tests as proof to enter.) In Cleveland, that’s not the case. In asking people about it, it seems the rules for proof of vaccination and masks were only recently reinstated in D.C. and had an expiration date. So, it will change again, but no matter where you go, take the time to research in advance the current rules for where you’re headed, knowing it will probably be different than where you live.
  • When my flight home was canceled, I learned about it and my rebooking options from my American Airlines app. Increasingly, airlines are leveraging mobile devices for everything from making reservations to paying for in-flight food and drink, to the point where most airlines are requiring you to add a credit card on their website in advance. Not only are they not accepting cash, but you can’t even give them a credit card in-flight anymore. Make sure to do that in advance or there will be no in-flight snack or adult beverages for you.
  • Check-in lines are long. I know of several people who let their TSA PreCheck status lapse when they stopped traveling. Well, get it back because with people traveling again the lines can be shockingly long with short-staffed airports feeling the labor pinch like everyone else. In short, it’s increasingly difficult to predict how much time you’ll need at the airport to make your flight and you need every advantage you can get.
  • Try a new hotel chain or airline partner. Many of us get stuck in our ways using the same hotel chain or airline for the points, the familiarity or proximity to your favorite restaurant on the road. The fact is all hotels and airlines are trying out new ways to attract new customers and rebuild their patrons following last year’s travel industry disaster. There are lots of perks to be found and trying a new location might allow you to find something better than you had before.
  • Networking has adjusted. One of my favorite things about traveling is leveraging a conference or existing business meeting to network with people in other cities. Now, with everyone having a different point of view on in-person meetings, that’s gotten a little tougher. I’m choosing to look at it as an opportunity to broaden my networking set even further by branching out to meet with peers in the PR industry that can discuss market trends, share strategies on business development, people attraction and retention – really anything. Nothing bad happens when you have new conversations with interesting people.

I’d love to read your travel story or tips in the new world we all live in now. Email me at