May 22, 2020

Up In the Air

Up In the Air

Like many of you, I spent too much of my pre-COVID business life at 30,000 feet. If you do as many office visits, conferences and M&A transactions as I do, jumping on a plane to meet face to face was a fact of life. If memory serves correctly, in January alone I was on 17 separate flights. But that was all PC (pre-COVID.)

Since the lockdown, I’ve been grounded and haven’t seen the inside of an airport lounge, but with most of our locations at Marcum set to reopen between now and mid-June, I know at some point it will be time to face the inevitable: Getting back on a plane. Zoom calls are a great convenience but they may not work as effectively as doing it in person when you need to do 2 days of back-to-back meetings with a potential merger partner. Someday soon, if it’s safe, I’m going to have to pack up my laptop and hit the road again.

That means a lot of decisions, especially here in New York. The roads are still pretty empty these days but I’m not all that enthusiastic about taking a yellow cab or an Uber to the airport.

The major airlines all have plans and protocols in place to try to keep people safe, like not selling the middle seats – but based on the tweets and articles I’ve seen, there’s still A LOT of work to be done on that front. I’ll be packing plenty of masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, but I’m hoping I don’t show up to my first few flights and find a packed flight – or a lot of people who’ve taken off their masks.

Even though airlines have loosened up their cancellation policies to accommodate passengers who arrive and discover the plane is too crowded for comfort, how many of us will be able to use that option en route to an important meeting? Even with the number of flights way down, the airlines are going to have to find a way to maintain social distancing on board so we all can feel confident about flying again. Otherwise, the current trend of Zoom meetings and staycations will likely continue long past the pandemic.

For now, many of us will have to play it by ear as we head to the airport. It’s not easy for any business to adjust to the times we’re in, but we are adaptable, and we will adjust.

Monday is Memorial Day, the unofficial beginning of summer and the day when we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. We should all take a moment to reflect and honor their memories and appreciate what they did so we can do what we do. Most of us will take Monday off from stay-at-home work and try and decompress, in the same environment we’ve been in since mid-March. I, for one, am taking today off and hope to get out on the golf course for the first time this season over the weekend. I hope you all get to enjoy the holiday weekend.

Stay safe, stay healthy and remember – we are all in this together.