Business Travel

First extended business trip since COVID

It’s been almost two years to the day since my last extended business trip. I’ve done other trips, but they were much shorter (one or two nights) and much closer to home. This time, I’m back in Seattle for a week-long visit to my company’s corporate HQ.

Things have somewhat returned to normal, but the signs of COVID are still around. Probably the most noticeable signs are the staffing shortages. Even in my 4-star hotel, they are still only doing room service every-other-day. Seattle is also different from back home in Texas in that they check your COVID vaccination status at some indoor restaurants.

Back in September, 2021, I joined a new team at work so I haven’t met at least half of my team in-person as our team is geographically dispersed. In fact, about half of my team was hired during COVID, so it was their first time to meet a lot of the team in person as well.

Going into the Amazon HQ in Seattle and getting to be with the team I was working on in person was such a surreal experience. The Seattle offices still haven’t returned to pre-COVID occupancy levels. In fact, you could see some of the effects in the form of closed restaurants that used to mainly cater to office workers. However, after two years it really feels like society is ready to move past COVID.

Day 1

I left Dallas Monday afternoon and arrived in Seattle in time to join my co-workers who were already there for drinks and dinner. One thing that I’ve learned about business travel is to always try and travel on company time.

The first thing worth mentioning is that the flights are just as full as from before COVID. In fact, American Airlines was offering $450 to take another flight, but I didn’t want to get to Seattle any later than I already was.

Day 2

View from the office with at least two other Amazon offices in the background.

Tuesday was my first day in the Seattle offices. After our day of meetings, we had a team event (bowling, of course). Fun fact: I took bowling as a PE elective in college. Somehow, I’ve managed to forget all that I learned because my score was pretty bad. Afterwards, we had a team dinner.

Team bowling event.
First team dinner.

Day 3

Wednesday was day two of our meetings. We also got to take a field trip to visit The Spheres. Even thought these have been open for some time, this was actually my first opportunity to go inside.

The best way to describe the experience is like walking through a living, breathing work of art. It’s really a shame that Raphael couldn’t be here because he would freak out at the variety of beautiful plants.

Day 4

Thursday was the last day of our meetings. We wrapped up a little early so that some folks could take the red-eye flight back home, but I opted to spend an extra night to meet a co-worker that I’ve only known from online meetings. He took me to a Malaysian restaurant that was amazing! I’ve never had Malaysian food, so this was a treat.

Day 5

On Friday, I had to wake up early to head to the airport to go back to Dallas. Overall, it was a great trip and felt good to travel for work again. I’m looking forward to (hopefully) more travel in 2022.