What The LAX TSA Shooting Teaches Us About Business Continuity: Last-Minute, Necessary Travel Plans Need A Backup, Too

Friday’s shooting at LAX of a passenger and three TSA agents, one of whom was killed, is not something I’m particularly comfortable using as a teachable moment.  But as always after such a tragic event there’s a lesson to be learned as a result of one of the perhaps unintended consequences of the shooter’s behavior, which was the cancellation of hundreds of flights.  According to CNN, the shooting affected more than 165,000 passengers.  The injuries and loss of a life are undoubtedly tragic.  When you consider the ripple effect  – that the actions of one person could possibly alter the lives, albeit temporarily, of so very many people – it gives us pause.  And for business continuity folks, it adds one more item to the ever growing list of contingencies we need to prepare for in advance.

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Image: ktsf.com

For most corporate travelers, commercial aviation is the primary means of getting around but as we’ve watched the national security response evolve since 9/11, it’s apparent that an individual or small group of people can still make a considerable impact on our daily lives even if the impact is of an unintended secondary nature.  Which means that having a backup for most of your organization’s top priority travel plans – including those involving any travel to your fail-over city – is indispensable.

Trains and over-the-road buses are conveniently available in many areas of the country but in most of the less densely populated areas of the U.S., the primary backup for medium- and long-distance travel is by car.  If your organization doesn’t already have a contract in place for priority auto rental in the event of a fail-over, consider the benefits of obtaining an agreement so that your company can quickly activate it in the event of a business disruption.  Plan C:  discuss arrangements with critical employees for them to use their personal vehicles to travel to the fail-over destination.

Any formal agreements for personal automobile use should include reimbursement for vehicle use (and not just for mileage) but also an agreement by the employees involved that they will adhere to regularly scheduled vehicle maintenance in order to keep their cars available for dependable operation if need be, and possibly at a moment’s notice.  In the event of any long-distance carpooling, based on personal experience I suggest that different personality types be considered when assigning who goes with who.  A little planning ahead of time can help reduce the amount of rolling cabin fever.

We all remember the stories of people who spent many days trying to get home without air travel after 9/11 and it’s doubtful that a pre-existing contract with an auto rental agency would have held together during that terrible week.  But business interruptions come in many forms and even a broken water pipe in a single building can require activation of your away team.  Consider your options and learn, yet again, from what we’ve experienced.

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Continuity Housing helps companies enhance their business continuity plans by pre-arranging guaranteed housing and providing logistical support for mission-critical employees during disasters.

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