Having lapped a year of our pandemic coverage, we wanted to call out how it's emotionally felt for leaders in the travel sector to endure this crisis. In a word, brutal.
The travel sector has endured the coronavirus pandemic better than expected, broadly speaking, thanks to the heroic sacrifices of many. Outright bankruptcies have been rare, despite the steep plunges in revenue.
Yet the parade of headlines has been ferocious. Much news coverage has focused on financials and business tactics. But it's worth noting that many people behind the headlines had to withstand a fierce drama.
So we're pausing to recall a handful of leaders' emotional moments. Here are some examples of how it felt to withstand the pandemic.
"Things Just Fell Off a Cliff"
JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty recalled a few moments during March and April 2020 when she spoke later at Skift Global Forum.
"Things just fell off a cliff, almost overnight," Geraghty said. "It required the leadership team and our front-line to very quickly adjust."
The crisis required JetBlue's management team to have endless emergency meetings and address multiple problems at once.
"I was riding my bike to work every day, riding over [New York City's] Queensboro Bridge," Geraghty said. "There was no traffic. It was just eerie."
JetBlue had a large operation in New York, which had been the center of the U.S. pandemic back then. (See: 25 Critical Days for the Travel Industry in 2020.)
"Given the fear and concern our crew members had, we wanted to make sure we quickly put into place protocols around contact tracing, testing, and sick policies for Covid on top of existing sick policies," Geraghty said.
The airline tried to reassure employees it was doing everything according to existing U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to keep them safe.
"But it's scary to be a front-line crew member out there in operation exposed to people who don't realize they have Covid and you're coming into contact with them," Geraghty said. "So the safety of our crew members and customers was our number one priority."
See: Pandemic and Competitors' Struggles Put JetBlue on Offense During Crisis.
So Much Uncertainty
Executives themselves weren't immune to the risks. Exhibit A was our April story: Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel Tests Positive for Coronavirus.
Fogel later told Skift's Dennis Schaal that his symptoms were mild and he had been working at home instead of at the company's Norwalk, Connecticut headquarters.
"I was so lucky and my