Monday, 31 December 2012
In the not too recent past the International Air Transport Association (IATA) laid out some of its plans to help travel seamlessly and arrive comfortably in the future with one of its programs called StB - Simplifying the Business. As IATA's plans continue to take shape I ask you the same question; What plans do you have as a frequent flier to help you arrive at your future destinations seamlessly comfortably and most importantly healthily?
IATA expects the global airline industry in 2013 to lift itself further away from the red by netting $7.5 billion in full-year profits. Not a bad outlook for an industry that was suffering through high oil prices six years ago and a coming recession. How well have you fared flying during this time? Have you got healthier? Are you wiser and wealthier for having taken all those journeys? Have you increased your bottom line? In a fast paced always on-the-go world it is easy to lose sight of some of the things that really matter like health and well being.
A further reason to ask and answer this question now is that the IATA plan for the future of travel has heavy investment in technology at its core. This is a good thing in some instances and not such a good thing in others. It will use technology as a platform to streamline services, create efficiencies and make travel better from baggage handling to freight to the customer experience (GOOD). Many airlines are in the process of installing Wifi capability on their fleets. IATA is considering Near Field Communication (NFC) services for the always connected, always mobile flier (NOT SO GOOD). Technology's reach is extending in such ways for you the flier that if you don't actively plan how to manage its impact (positive or negative), you will find yourself fitting into IATA's plan whether you like it or not. This major push to embed technology into an efficient and seamless flying experience is happening in ground airport systems and onboard the aircraft. It is championed by IATA and airlines alike.
While technology has been a major driver of global economic prosperity it also has an Achilles' heel. When it works well it's fine, but when it's detrimental to human health it is devastating. As we move forward into 2013, as a frequent flier passing through airports more than most, what are you asking of the airlines and airport authorities who control these environments you spend so much time in?
It matters, it really does matter because as these environments become more alive with gadgetry to make travel better and safer, whether it be a new X- ray scanner or Wifi coverage, our interactions with them before boarding an oxygen deficient metal tube for hours on end is telling on our health. So the question is what are you asking of these operators, and if you are reluctant to do that what are you going to do yourself to make your stay in these environments habitable?
A couple of summers ago after the launch of a passenger charter to raise awareness of the poor standards US fliers endured I wrote an essay with a basic manifesto of what we should be able to expect from frequent flying. Email me if you want a copy. Not much has changed and the stresses of flying continue to mount. It is no longer enough for airlines and authorities to pacify its customers with annual surveys to test the water on these issues. Real thought needs to go into getting the frequent flying community engaged, no one ignores their most frequent customer and expects to do well.
There are many issues at stake and up for discussion moving forward, be it security, well being, facilities, technology and the use of personal data. More importantly and from my limited point of view what you are doing to make sure you arrive well is a priority for me. I hope to open a dialogue with you on this and more in the coming months of 2013 and if you don't like the answers you get when you ask the questions of the aviation industry I hope we can explore new answers together.
Happy New Year
- Christopher Babayode
Wednesday, 5 December 2012
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 http://www.Spafinder.co.uk. 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