Companies Implement Travel Policies After Terrorist Attacks

From banning travel to business-as-usual, outdoor and fitness companies have post-terrorist-attack travel policies with wide-ranging recommendations. Several of the companies polled by SNEWS® have gone so far as to ban travel at least until Sept. 24. Others have put a higher value on stress and comfort of employees who may be uncomfortable with flying. A couple of companies are doing nothing different.
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From banning travel to business-as-usual, outdoor and fitness companies have post-terrorist-attack travel policies with wide-ranging recommendations.

Several of the companies polled by SNEWS® have gone so far as to ban travel at least until Sept. 24. Others have put a higher value on stress and comfort of employees who may be uncomfortable with flying. A couple of companies are doing nothing different.

Timberland and Ryka Shoes, for example, have both stopped all travel through Sept. 24, when they will re-analyze the situation, spokespersons told SNEWS®.

"After considering the current travel uncertainties based on last week's events, I am continuing the air travel ban for Ryka employees," a memo to Ryka employees stated. "Our utmost goal is to ensure your physical safety, to the best of our abilities. While I am heartened by the increased security measures that all airlines are taking, I believe that it would benefit all of us to have additional time to process what has transpired….In the meantime, any meetings that require long-distance communication may be served by video-conferencing or telephone conference calls."

For Timberland, a spokeswoman said, the most important part of the current policy -- although also banning travel until Sept. 24 when the policy will be updated based on new information -- is that no employees will be required to travel if they are not comfortable doing so.

Hi-Tec has also told employees the company wants anyone uncomfortable with air travel to talk to supervisors or others: "Management is extremely sensitive to the fact that some might feel apprehensive about traveling right now," a spokeswoman told SNEWS®. "Those people are encourage to discuss the matter with their supervisor and come up with a solution to relieve stress … (like) finding an alternative to traveling, for instance conducting conference calls…."

For both Dunham and New Balance, a simple notice banned air travel for a couple of weeks, unless a trip was absolutely necessary.

On the flip side of those policies came statements from Precor, The North Face, and Life Fitness, where travel is currently business-as-usual. At The North Face, the biggest concern was getting people home who'd been stranded after the Sept. 11 attacks, a spokeswoman said, and the company is now making sure employees are aware of new airline restrictions and extra security.

But for Precor, travel goes on, partly to show support for the United States:

"We have not made any changes to our policies nor discouraged our employees to alter any of their plans," said spokeswoman Janette Cline. "We feel the best way to show our strength and solidarity as a country -- and as a business -- is to resume to the most normal form of operations as possible given the circumstances."

Others haven't banned travel, but are trying to limit trips only to essential travel, for example at Sierra Designs and Timberland.

Sportif took an extra step others hadn't: That company is suggesting employees commute in and out of smaller airports domestically, something that travel gurus have often suggested as a way to make flying easier and cheaper anyway. For example, that would include flying into Midway outside of Chicago rather than O'Hare, using Baltimore instead of Washington D.C., or Oakland or Sacramento airports in California instead of San Francisco or San Jose.

For some, international trips were the biggest point, with Sportif banning international travel specifically and Timberland requiring advance approval of such travel by a senior vice president.

The bottom line for many is making sure employees are aware of new airport restrictions. Hi-Tec sent out a detailed three-page memo -- much of it taken from the FAA -- that reviews for employees how they should pack, get to the airport, deal with security, and handle what may happen differently onboard. For example, the memo suggests employees re-check the "always-packed suitcase" for items that could be scrutinized by security, even those in manicure kits.

On the Federal Aviation Administration's web site (www.faa.gov), Administrator Jane F. Garvey posted an open letter on Sept. 21 outlining the current status and security measures. Also available is a list of frequently asked questions about airports and security, as well as updates about specific airports.

SNEWS® View: These actions banning or limited travel may carry over beyond the repercussions of the terrorist attacks, as companies further question the expense of traveling to trade shows, to meetings, or in such large numbers.

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