Friday, 31 August 2012

Technology is a Game Changer for Frequent Fliers

Technology as leverage is a great example of the potential good it can do in society. It is one of the yardsticks by which we measure progress and productivity. The explosion of the web, social media and digital technology are area which have benefitted from this onward march of technology. There is no denying that this is a good thing, however in the world of the healthy frequent business flier it also has its limitations which often go unnoticed or disregarded. This article will delve a little into the issue which needs highlighting if frequent business fliers are to make the best of business travel and remain healthy while flying.

In a previous article I referenced a telling Infographic from PC Housing - Mobile Dependency A Growing Trend In Business Travel. In many respects the Infographic is an identikit of today's business person and frequent flier. In simple terms today's business travellers are always current, kitted out with gadgets and never far from an Internet connection.

On the flip side technology surrounding flying has also grown and changed with the times. Technology led innovation has been responsible for airport information avatars, electronic boarding passes, airport security theatre and the roll out of Wifi in the sky. The positive aspects of these innovations is undeniable. The concern is the effect these innovations have on frequent fliers constantly exposed to some of these measures in the course of flying. Security theatre and Wifi in the sky are of particular interest in this respect.

Information technology innovations continue to move towards the Cloud. As I write more gadgets and apps align themselves with systems which either rely on or make use of wireless technology in some way shape or form. Wireless technology is fast becoming indispensable in all areas of life and thus unavoidable.

The medium wireless technology depends on is the Electromagnetic Frequency and more specifically radio waves. Our creative use of more of the electromagnetic frequency is inversely linked to the decline in autoimmunity in society as a whole say some experts. The electromagnetic frequency is a contributor to the phenomena of Electro-pollution and has spawned the terms Electro-sensitivity and Electro-smog. Recognition and awareness of Electro- sensitivity is growing as evidenced by the Stockholm County Council (SLL) presentation of the 8th of May 2006 titled Electro Hypersensitive People's Right To An Accessible Society. This talk included a segment titled Electro-sanitising Modifications in Houses & Healthcare Facilities.

While there is plenty to celebrate in our creative use of the electromagnetic frequency there is reason for a cautious approach in it's use. Scientists of many disciplines have observed worrying changes in their fields of expertise, attributed to the presence and effects of the use of the electromagnetic frequency. The much maligned Bio-Initiative Report still has elements of truth in it. There are other reports besides this that come to similar conclusions. It must be said that there are many reports funded by special interest groups that say the opposite, the truth is neither argument is conclusive. As a flier you have to ask yourself if you are willing to wait until the argument is settled while exposing yourself to potential risk.

The link between fliers, autoimmunity, stress and the electromagnetic frequency is a theme that crops up repeatedly in the argument for healthy frequent flying. The PC Housing Infographic sheds light on some of the puzzle. Fliers are gadget friendly, they are constantly connected and therefore always having their immune system interact with these radio waves. They fly often which is stressful enough so their immune systems receive more stress. Passing through the airport "security theatre" and the prevailing trend to install Wifi on planes plus the normal environment on planes all add up to more assaults on fliers immunity. As if that is not enough we haven't considered how stressed the traveller may be in relation to the outcome of the trip, getting to the airport or stresses in personal circumstances.

The beauty of this part of the problem is that technology is also the key that unlocks part of the solution. Now that most of the efficiencies to the planes, the hardware of the airline industry have been made, the focus is shifting towards the customer experience side of the equation. However there is a fair way to go before we arrive, let me remind you that we have not too recently banned smoking on planes only to replace it with a 21st century equivalent in Wifi in the sky. We know the effects of smoking in a confined space are bad, Wifi at altitude is no better.

On the bright side (no pun intended) we are seeing cabin lighting designed to simulate natural light. A Scandinavian company recently launched a gadget designed to shine light into the ear to help the body reset it's clock. You can also find wrist watches and bracelets which also claim to have the same effect. In no small way these ideas all spell hope for fliers. Technology really is a game changer for frequent fliers, aggregating every one of these solutions that work can make the difference between healthy flying and a loss of immunity leading to burnout and illness. In business travel this translates to the bottom line and will be covered in a later article.


PC Housing.
Stockholm County Council (SLL).
Bio-Initiative Report.

- Christopher Babayode

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Frequent Fliers Are The Key To Jet Lag

In this article I put forward the hypotheses that discerning frequent fliers hold the key to eliminating jet lag and travelling well. The history of commercial aviation is such that air travel used to be the preserve of the privileged and the few. Industrialisation Globalisation and global work practices have created a mobile workforce and fuelled global travel, to the extent that frequent business fliers are the holy grail of the airline industry. The competitive nature of the global marketplace pushes results and productivity to the fore. Any advantage business fliers can gain over the competition can become a decider in the success or failure of the outcome. Thus successful business fliers are worth studying for clues on how to maintain success in a dynamic and changing global economy.


For the purposes of our conversation we need to broaden the definition of frequent fliers beyond corporate multinational business executives. The ranks included journalists politicians diplomats pilots cabin crew athletes and showbiz personalities to name a few. What they all have in common is the need to be productive at the highest level in order to complete a task or sets of tasks in hand.
This last distinction is relevant because repetition is the mother of skill and the prospect of flying week in week out with jet lag is so unbearable for some, that they will find the best habits possible in order to minimise the impact jet lag has on their schedule and outcomes.
Globe trotting mileage and experience apart this method of trial and error is less than ideal, and not all choices are sustainable long term. However a few do manage to settle into a grove that is satisfactory and minimises the worst jet lag has to offer in their individual experience. While there are symptoms we all have in common, the individual experience of jet lag can include some variety. For this reason focusing on the commonality of symptoms and the commonality of the flying experience will yield the greatest benefit for all fliers to learn from.


The most important thing you can observe about these well-traveled frequent fliers is that they have a routine and they do their damnedest not to deviate from it. I heard a firsthand story that Lord King used to fly from London to New York on Concorde with nothing but a bottle of water! The element of routine is important on many levels for the frequent flier. It helps the flier maintain a kind disciplined regularity in an environment that is anything but normal. More importantly routine is at the core of one of the most important functions a frequent flier can hope to master, the body-clock. Those who travel well know on a conscious or unconscious level that entrainment, routine and the body-clock go hand in hand. The human bias towards entrainment is a documented scientific fact, lookup the McClintock Effect* for evidence of this.


The intensity of travel of global frequent fliers is what makes them such great guinea pigs. Their resilience is tested in the crucible of changing global factors circumstances and situations. Some have fallen by the wayside but others have endured and come out ahead. While resilience is part of the solution it is not the whole story. For all their diversity and the different walks of life frequent fliers come from, one other thing that can be said of them is that they are always engaged. Following an infographic from PC Housing* titled Mobile Dependence: A Growing Trend in Business Travel, my suspicion is that technology plays a role in keeping fliers engaged, as well as being an enabler of people who live a "jet set" lifestyle. This has a good and bad aspect to it. Engagement leads to expectancy of an outcome, with distance and other impromptu obstacles along the way getting to that outcome requires drive. Having this kind of drive on tap is handy when you land in Narita Japan and all you want to do is sleep but it is 9 am and you are set to "perform" shortly.


The successful frequent flier is the embodiment of an athlete in many ways and the more fliers can identify themselves with athletes preparations for competition the better. Plotting a routine that takes your rest nutrition and psychology into consideration deserves more than lip service. Those who fail to realise that frequent flying is a "competitive sport" requiring the attributes and the mindset of an athlete will struggle because the current culture around flying is not conducive to support healthy flying. If they want to stay ahead of the field and continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in performance and productivity adopting such a mindset is essential.
The few pointers above are signposts to everyone else struggling with the inconvenience of jet lag. It is for the many who are still waiting for the pharmaceutical industry to invent the cure all magic pill. Those who succeed in making the deal, impressing the prospects, winning the medal or performing to the highest standard are the ones who have managed to compete and minimise jet lag. When they do it time and time again without corporate burnout or fatigue it makes them worthy of learning from.
- Christopher Babayode