Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Airport spas - not the answer to jet lag but they might help

When your flight is cancelled or delayed, there's no better way to de-stress than hitting the spa. Airport spas are becoming more common,whether accessible to the general public or part of a first-class lounge.Treatment options are often tailored to people in transit-chair massages and othe abbreviated treatments for travellers in a hurry, though some airport spas offer full spa menus - so says While airport spas may be great to help you on your way or help you de-stress from a gruelling journey they deflect from the fact that they offer no real answer to jet lag and frequent flier fatigue.

Preflight or post flight pampering, getting the glow how, escaping into a tranquil oasis are great stop gaps but they melt away in the face of the fierceness of frequent flying. If you take the subjects of jet lag and flier fatigue and break them down to their brass tacks it is nothing more than the body's inability to deal with stress. In which case going to a spa is a good thing because spas help you de-stress BUT not all stress is the same. There are 2 types of stress. The chronic and the acute. Acute stress is what you are immediately aware of while chronic stress is what you might call background stress, you might not be aware of it immediately but its long term effects are damaging, sometimes irreparable. While a spa treatment may well help you get over acute symptoms it does not help you deal with the ongoing chronic stress frequent flying exacts week in week out. This is part of the reason my popular refrain is "jet lag needs a new conversation and it needs it now!"

The truth of the matter is most people and quite a few frequent fliers only think of jet lag when they arrive at the airport or when it disrupts their routine. To my thinking this is like an astronaut attempting to take off for Space without realising he's going to need oxygen - he's not really going to be at his best when he gets there. Airport spas can be a nice stop gap but they don't face down the insidious issues around flying like dehydration, the harsh aircraft cabin, cosmic radiation exposure and a lack of oxygen. What is needed are solutions that handle all of these and are not reliant on fliers being in the vicinity of an airport to use them. You see the kept secret of the healthiest frequent fliers is that they see frequent flying as part of their lifestyle and build in lifestyle tools to help them stay healthy on the road and beyond. Spa visits can feature in that but they are not the antidote.

Sustainable, healthy, green, long term solutions are what is needed to fight jet lag and travel fatigue successfully. Are spas healthy? Definitely as is any measure that helps relieve stress. Are they green? I would suggest they are for the most part. Are they sustainable? Not really, only if you can afford to frequent them after every leg of your flight and choose the most comprehensive packages. At best I would say they are a good pick me up or girdle me 'loins for that make or break meeting. Now that I've shattered the illusion that they are the answer to your jet lag woes let me offer you some consolation with a links to lists of some of the best airport spas in airports around the world. Nice indulgence if you can get it!

- Christopher Babayode

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