How I Roll: TPG Loyalty and Engagement Editor Richard Kerr
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Welcome to a special COVID edition of How I Roll, an airport routine series with a focus on health and safety while traveling. Today, we’re asking TPG Loyalty and Engagement Editor Richard Kerr a shortlist of questions about how he travels during the pandemic, covering everything from how he preps for a trip to what he wears on the plane. Here’s what he had to say. Safe travels!
TPG: What is the last flight you caught?
RK: Delta from Houston back home to Atlanta.
TPG: Was the trip for business or pleasure?
RK: Both really. I booked a Work from Hyatt package at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in Austin and then drove over to see my sister in Houston.
TPG: With whom were you traveling? If you had a travel companion, what conversions did you have to align on safety precautions? Did you need to reassure them?
RK: Traveling with my wife, 6-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. My wife and I have talked constantly about what precautions we are going to take and what our boundaries are as far as feeling safe. We feel like it’s up to us rather than any specific guidance we can follow. I think the problem is there’s no clear message from authorities on what is actually going on. Most of my TPG coworkers in New York live in a different reality than we do in Georgia because of the vastly different state governments.
TPG: Did you plan this trip pre-pandemic, or were these new travel plans?
RK: New travel plans. Once you’re home with a 4 and 6 year old for 8 months, you all need a change of scenery.
TPG: What’s a trip you’re hoping to take in the future, that’s been put on hold?
RK: I had an awesome trip planned to Turkey and the eastern block of Europe — starting in Istanbul and heading up to Serbia. I am looking forward to that trip happening as I feel it’ll be a sign the worst of this pandemic is behind us.
RK: Probably too long to list here, but as far as the logistics of flying go, the night before a flight I confirm our seat assignments and check FlightAware for potential delays on the inbound flight and weather. I then make sure all our carry on bags have what’s required in worse case scenarios as far as a 4 and 6-year-old are concerned.
TPG: Are you purchasing any additional supplies, masks or protective gear for the trip?
RK: We have plenty of masks and hand sanitizer. We make sure to have plenty of both.
TPG: Are you getting a COVID test? If so, what kind?
RK: We have gotten PCR tests at a local urgent care 72 hours before each of our trips (to allow time for test results to come in) to ensure as best we can we aren’t spreading.
TPG: What are your carry-on essentials?
RK: SNACKS (4 and 6-year-old), hand sanitizer, masks, wet wipes to clean up spills/accidents, activities to entertain the kids and then more snacks.
TPG: Is there anything you are leaving at home that you would normally take?
RK: Not that I can think of.
TPG: What’s your go-to travel outfit, and has it changed at all during the pandemic?
RK: Fair Harbor shorts and a polo — don’t care what the weather is. In winter I wear the same thing and pack a jacket/coat. In summer I bring a waterproof pullover. There’s nothing worse than being hot on a plane.
TPG: Are you getting to the airport early or with just enough time to spare?
RK: Airports are empty and sitting at a gate with kids to entertain is no good. We still time it to get to the gate just before boarding starts.
TPG: Has that changed at all?
RK: Not at all.
TPG: How do you normally prefer to kill any extra time at the airport?
RK: I hope I don’t have any; if I do it’s straight to the SkyClub to be productive or if it’s a family trip we’re riding the ATL Plane train to entertain the kids.
TPG: What is your airport food strategy?
RK: Snack in the SkyClub or whatever we brought ourselves. I can’t ever see myself paying inflated airport prices for food.
TPG: What differences have you noticed at the airport since the pandemic began?
RK: ATL at first was a complete ghost town, but on our recent trip it didn’t look too much different than normal for a midweek flight. There are plexiglass barriers and people have on masks, but not much else has changed from what I see.
TPG: What is your strategy for choosing your seat on the plane?
RK: Aisle, back of the plane. I have a weird tick where I keep all the action in front of me so I can see what’s going on and react if necessary.
TPG: Were you able to work or relax during the flight?
RK: Relax with a 4 and 6-year-old is typically only when they are asleep.
TPG: Do you eat or drink on the plane? Has that changed in any way?
RK: We pull our mask down, take a bite, and put it back up. I have little concern on our flights, especially with Delta and 60% capped planes, plus HEPA filters that the 3 seconds I pull my mask down to take is a bite will be the time I am infected.
TPG: Have you noticed any changes in in-flight service?
RK: It’s a shell of what it was; pre-packaged bag handed out and that’s it.
TPG: Overall, did you still enjoy traveling during the pandemic?
RK: Oh yea; probably more than previously.
TPG: How much traveling have you done since the pandemic began?
RK: Quite a bit relatively speaking. Several road trips and six flights.
TPG: Any travel pearls of wisdom or hacks for flying right now?
RK: Fly a carrier that is capping capacity. The biggest perk of that is an empty seat next to you and less stress.
Are you Team Ask or Not Ask when it comes to fellow travelers who aren’t wearing a mask? Lol, in Georgia you might have half the gate come after you for harassing other travelers.
Latex gloves — yay or nay? No, you’d have to change gloves after you touch every surface. You packing 350 pairs of gloves for your next trip?
Favorite hand sanitizer brand? Cheapest.
Favorite mask brand? Old Navy.
Favorite pandemic travel gear innovation? Capped airline capacity.
Feature image by the author.
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