The British Airways ‘Happiness Blanket’ (And 10 Other Ways To Combat Jet Lag)
If you hate that sickly, groggy, confused feeling you get when you pass into a new time zone, you’re not alone. Jet lag is one of the biggest struggles facing travelers when they decide to go outside the continent, and despite their best efforts, they’re not often successful at keeping it at bay.
But leading airline British Airways might just have the answer. Introducing its new ‘Happiness Blankets’, which will help to monitor a passengers’ level of ‘relaxedness’ and provide staff with the info they need to provide a more comfortable flight.
The BA Happiness Blankets were recently trialed using a group of volunteers on a 189 Dreamliner flight from Heathrow to New York. By using a headband fitted with neuro-sensors to measure a passenger’s brain waves, combined with fiber optics in the material to monitor how relaxed they are, BA hope to tweak the ‘rituals’ of air travel to help passengers adjust easier to their new time zone.
During the trial, the staff paid close attention to various in-flight factors that contributed to or detracted from passengers’ happiness. Such factors include lighting, temperature of the air, mealtimes, food served, types of movies shown/in-flight entertainment offered, seating positions, and the general flight routine. Each blanket displayed a sensory symbol, which would turn blue if the passenger was in a total zen state…or red, if they wanted to punch someone in the face.
Frank van der Post, BA’s managing director for brands and customer experience, says:
“Using technology like the British Airways ‘happiness blanket’ is another way for us to investigate how our customers’ relaxation and sleep is affected by everything on board, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat, to what in-flight entertainment they watch and their position in the seat.”
It’s not clear yet whether the Happiness Blankets are going to become part of the flight ritual for future BA customers, or whether they are merely a testing tool (and if they were to become legit, whether they’d be available on Dreamliner flights only). However, the airline recently introduced lie-flat seating for business and first class passengers, after discovering that this contributed strongly to traveler satisfaction. So who knows what other delights they’ll come up with following the Happiness Blanket trial.
One thing that BA is sure of is that providing an atmosphere where sleep comes easily is essential to keeping passengers happy. This helps to reduce the number of distractions the brain has to deal with, which is particularly important when crossing time zones.
10 Top Tips for Beating Jet Lag
Until BA has figured out the crucial formula for avoiding Jet Lag entirely (were this even possible), we’ll leave you with these 10 tips when you set off on your travels this summer.
1. At least four hours before you fly, start adjusting your eating and sleeping habits to align with the local time of your target destination. Yes, this might even mean taking your evening meal at like 10am. But go with it.
2. Before flying and during the flight, avoid coffee and alcohol. Coffee will only disrupt your ability to sleep on the plane, and alcohol likewise. Both can leave you feeling foggy, lethargic and sluggish.
3. Try and get an overnight flight if you can when crossing time zones, as this will make for a much better sleep-inducing environment so you can get your rest.
4. Eat a light meal before boarding. Keep snacks to hand throughout the flight but avoid eating anything too heavy or overeating.
5. Stay hydrated. Ideally, you should drink 8 oz of water for every hour you are in the air. You should also carry lip balm, hand moisturiser and possibly a facial spritzer (containing some form of essential oil) to keep your skin hydrated and supple throughout the flight.
6. Remove shoes to improve the circulation to your feet.
7. Lie down or recline as much as you can to induce sleep (and it’s important that you do sleep). If you’re not lucky enough to be in business class or first, try to get a window seat and use various padding to create a pillow that you can lean against.
8. Use a sleep mask and ear plugs to block out as much distracting light and noise as possible. If on a long-haul flight, these are normally included, or you can obtain them on request.
9. If you have trouble drifting off, try a few drops of a soothing essential oil like lavender or neroli (in a TSA-approved bottle, of course). You can also try some relaxing music – BA offers its passengers relaxing audio feeds and meditative videos.
10. If you arrive at your destination during the daytime, get out into the sunlight as much as possible for the rest of the day. This will help to reset your body clock and keep you from zonking out, disturbing your sleeping pattern even more. You should also immediately adapt your routine to the local time.
If you arrive at night, however, then feel perfectly free to drift off…