The past two years have been absolute chaos in the world due to the spread of COVID-19. There’s not one country or industry that was not somehow affected by the pandemic. However, one of the industries that took the biggest hit was the travel sector. With travel bans being enforced on all countries, no one was allowed to go in or out of any country to limit the spread of the disease, therefore, the travel sector suffered a huge economic loss. Due to this huge misfortune, it’s only right to acknowledge and validate those in the travel sector with significant influence and esteem. Here are the top influential people in global travel today:
1. Charisse Evans
Starting out as just a part-time reservations sales agent in 1985, Charisse Evans is now the vice president of employee relations at Delta airlines. Named one of the Power Women in 2019 of Moves Magazine, she is considered an influential person in the aviation industry. She has her esteemed place on the Board of Advisors for Women Leading Travel and Hospitality. When asked what changes she hopes to see in the travel industry, she stated how she would want women and minorities to take on more leadership roles in the industry by encouraging development and taking risks.
2. Avi Lasarow
CEO of Prenetics EMEA & Honorary Consul for South Africa in the UK, Avi Lasarow has proved his influence in global travel today by taking a stand against VAT on PCR tests for travelers. Lasarow is taking the lead in a campaign in the UK to lift the VAT on COVID testing to make leisure travel more accessible for people in the UK. As the founder of the award-winning UK genetics company DNAfit, he argues that Prenetics is a great choice for solutions for COVID-19 testing. In a pursuit to also help employees get back to work, they make sure to emphasize accuracy and data privacy.
3. Ralph Kaiser
Ralph Kaiser is the President and CEO of UATP (Universal Air Travel Plan) who took one of the biggest steps towards traveler service. Kaiser took advantage of highly popular mobile payment services used by over a billion customers to allow air carriers to accept payments through them. Apps like WeChat Pay, China UnionPay, and Alipay already have a central role in the Chinese market, a huge market to concur. This is why Kaiser proceeded to strike a deal with Citcon, a company that allows approval of Chinese mobile payment services. It means transactions through these apps will run over UATP.
4. Scott Kirby
CEO of United Airlines, Scott Kirby has made a major influence in transforming corporate travel policies. The pandemic left- and continues to leave- a major imprint on the travel and airline industry, with some changes that will remain permanent. One of these changes was made possible after carriers suspended change fees during COVD-19. Kirby then announced that this change will be permanent for United Airlines. The change in policy entailed that when travelers are changing local tickets, they only pay the fare differential while making standby on the same day free of charge. His announcement encouraged American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and Delta Air Lines to also implement this change.
5. Clive Wratten
When it comes to corporate travel, Clive Wratten, The Business Travel Association (BTA) Chief Executive, had one of the strongest voices during the pandemic. Wratten became a familiar face on the news to advocate providing businesses the necessary financial support to get them flying once again. He suggested doing so through implementing strict policies of quarantine and testing, along with creating air corridors. Wratten believed that it was more important to involve the U.K. government by having the ministry of transport create a global travel task force that surveyed business travelers and have it delivered to the prime minister. In addition, under Wratten’s leadership, the BTA was able to acquire support for corporate travel workers who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
6. Sara Nelson
Sara Nelson has been the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants since 2014, serving now her second term. She was first hired as a United Airlines flight attendant and became a union member in 1996. With her passion to achieve job safety and fair pay, she now represents almost 50,000 airline workers from 17 different airlines. She also prioritizes having a healthy and secure environment for both passengers and crew in an aircraft cabin, as well as a decent quality of life for first responders. She was named “America's most powerful flight attendant” by the New York Times for her role in ending the 2019 government shutdown, which lasted for 35 days. During the pandemic, Nelson worked tirelessly to help deliver the Payroll Support Program (PSP) which maintained employment and healthcare grants for airline workers.
7. Ed Bastian
Airlines, during the spread of COVID-19, were clinging to medicine and science to help get their customers back safely in the air. This is why at the beginning of it all, they enforced certain capacity measures that ensure that the passengers are not seated next to each other. Ed Bastian, Delta Air Lines CEO, ensured keeping these measures while other airlines only notified passengers beforehand that the flight was at full capacity, in case they wanted to change it. With studies showing a low risk of in-flight infection of COVID with mask enforcement, most airlines with the capacity policies removed their measures, while Bastian had Delta continue to eliminate middle seats despite it meaning loss of income.
These are just a few of the topmost influential people in global travel today, who especially shined through during the pandemic. These people have shown constant reliance and dedication towards their sector during its toughest time, earning them a place on this list. The pandemic is still out there and is constantly affecting the global travel industry and its workers. That’s why it won’t be a surprise when more people step into the scene as an influence amongst all uncertainty and confusion. It all comes down to fighting to keep the sector alive and thriving despite the situation.