|Classification and external resources|
|ICD-9||307.45, 780.50 327.35|
Jet lag, medically referred to as "desynchronosis," is a physiological condition which is a consequence of alterations to circadian rhythms; it is classified as one of the circadian rhythm sleep disorders. Jet lag results from rapid long-distance transmeridian (east-west or west-east) travel, as on a jet plane.
When traveling across a number of time zones, the body clock will be out of synchronisation with the destination time, as it experiences daylight and darkness contrary to the rhythms to which it has grown accustomed: the body's natural pattern is upset, as the rhythms that dictate times for eating, sleeping, hormone regulation and body temperature variations no longer correspond to the environment nor to each other in some cases. To the degree that the body cannot immediately realign these rhythms, it is jet lagged.
The speed at which the body adjusts to the new schedule depends on the individual; some people may require several days to adjust to a new time zone, while others experience little disruption. Crossing one or two time zones does not typically cause jet lag.
The condition is not linked to the length of flight, but to the transmeridian (east-west) distance traveled. A ten-hour flight from Europe to southern Africa does not cause jet lag, as travel is primarily north-south. A five hour flight from the west to the east coast of the United States may well result in jet lag.
Crossing the International Date Line does not contribute to jet lag, as the guide for calculating jet lag is the number of time zones crossed, and the maximum possible disruption is plus or minus 12 hours. If the time difference between two locations is greater than 12 hours, subtract that number from 24. Note, for example, that the time zone GMT+14 will be at the same time of day as GMT-10, though the former is one day ahead of the latter.
The symptoms of jet lag can be quite varied, depending on the amount of time zone alteration. They may include the following:
Other symptoms which some may attribute to jet lag, such as nausea, ear aches and swollen feet, may be caused by the mode of travel rather than the time zone change.
There seems to be some evidence that for most people, traveling west to east is more disruptive. This may be because most people have a circadian period which is a bit longer than 24 hours, making it easier to stay up later than to get up earlier.
It may also be that flights to the east are more likely to require people to stay awake more than one full night in order to adjust to the local time zone. For example, comparing a typical schedule for a traveller flying to the East vs a traveller flying to the West:
|Westbound||Biological clock||Los Angeles local time|
|Departure||JAN 29 - 10:05||JAN 29 - 02:05|
|Arrival||JAN 29 - 21:10||JAN 29 - 13:10|
|Bedtime||JAN 30 - 06:00||JAN 29 - 22:00|
|Eastbound||Biological clock||London local time|
|Departure||JAN 29 - 15:50||JAN 29 - 23:50|
|Arrival||JAN 30 - 02:00||JAN 30 - 10:00|
|Bedtime||JAN 30 - 14:00||JAN 30 - 22:00|
The first scenario is equivalent to staying up all night and going to bed at 6am the next day — 8 hours later than usual. But the second scenario (eastward) is equivalent to staying up all night and going to bed at 2pm the next day — 14 hours after the time one would otherwise have gone to bed. Some sleep onboard may help the situation somewhat.
The Red-eye flight is another eastward scenario, for example flights departing the west coast of the USA at midnight (PST/PDT) and arriving on the east coast early in the morning (EST/EDT). Relative to the shorter flight time and the time zones advanced, the body gets less than optimal rest to begin a day of activity.
Since the experience of jet lag varies among individuals, it is difficult to assess the efficacy of any single remedy. Gradual adjustment over the course of several days of the onset of sleep while maintaining its regular length of 7–8 hours can reduce fatigue and prevent depression. When the goal is to catch-up with local time (vs. fallback to), this can be aided by avoiding afternoon naps and eating an early and carbohydrates-rich, low-protein dinner.
Most chemical and herbal remedies, including the hormone melatonin, have not been tested nor approved by official agencies such as the United States Food and Drug Administration. Few studies have tested the use of melatonin for jet lag and have given mixed results, likely because the timing of administration needs to be precise and individualized.
A recent study in hamsters showed that sildenafil citrate (known commercially as Viagra) aided in a 50% faster recovery from shifts comparable to eastward travel experienced by humans and was effective starting at low doses. However, this use has not been tested in humans and is considered an off-label use by the drug's manufacturers.
The presence of low-level light at night also accelerates recovery rate in both east- and west-travelling hamsters of all ages by 50%; this is thought to be related to simulation of moonlight.
This article is a travel topic.
Commercial aeroplane flight is one of the most common forms of international travel. These are some tips for making your flights safer, more comfortable, and more enjoyable.
For a guide to the standard procedures, rules, and other basics of travelling by air (some of which have changed in recent years), see Fundamentals of flying. See also First and business class travel, Discount airlines.
There are several airline quality ratings (like ) that can help you understand how different airlines operating on your chosen route compare in levels of service, timeliness and comfort.
Most major cities have more than one airport. Try selecting flights that the less known or smaller airports to depart out of or arrive in as they are more likely to have cheaper fares than the larger, more known airports. For example, if you wish to depart out of the Bay Area, consider flying out of Oakland International Airport (OAK) instead of San Francisco International Airport (SFO). In cities like London, larger airports like Heathrow cater for full service carriers, with lounges and airbridges, whilst the newer Luton and Stansted airports serve short haul budget carriers, with less shops, paid lounges and are further away from downtown. Also, more budget carriers operate out of these smaller airports. Some ticketing systems allow you to search using a code that covers more than one airport: see Metropolitan Area Airport Codes for more information.
If you're not sure what time you can make it to the airport, book the last flight of the day. This way you can always try to fly "standby" on earlier flights if you get to the airport earlier than expected, as long as the conditions on your ticket permit this (budget tickets may not).
As domestic flights are usually significantly cheaper than international flights for the same distance travelled, if you are in a city near an international border and wish to get to a destination in a neighbouring country, you can usually save quite a bit by crossing the border by land and flying from that country. For example, if you're in San Diego and need to get to Mexico City, you can cross the border to Tijuana by land and take a flight from Tijuana. Similarly, if you are in Hong Kong and need to get to Beijing, you can cross the border to Shenzhen and fly from there. People in Ottawa and Montreal can use Syracuse N.Y. for flights to American cities and Toronto residents can fly out of Buffalo instead of Lester B. Pearson.
While it is a good idea to save on air fare, you could face trade-offs in choosing budget carriers or the cheapest tickets off mainline carriers. Some of them include
Finally, unless the promo or point-of-sale is based in the European Union, you should take note that the advertised price usually does not include taxes and other surcharges.
It will be up to you to find the right balance between costs of air fare and the amenities. The old saying goes: you get what you pay for. For more advice on budget travelling, please see the article Discount airlines.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
When calling an airline or travel agency to make changes, the fastest way to find your ticket is to tell the reservations agent that you will give them your Passenger Name Record (PNR), and spell it out with the NATO phonetic alphabet (Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta Echo Foxtrot Golf Hotel India Juliet Kilo Lima Mike November Oscar Papa Quebec Romeo Sierra Tango Uniform Victor Whiskey X-ray Yankee Zulu). This is much easier than trying to spell out your last name, and you will gain some instant respect for sounding like a pro.
The major advantage of an electronic ticket (e-ticket) is that because your flight details are in the airline's computers, the e-ticket can't get lost, forgotten, or stolen. Your travel plans can also be altered without the need to print and deliver a new ticket. If your airline offers online or self-service kiosk check-in, you can use these to print boarding passes, thus saving time at the airport.
The major disadvantage is that your flight details are in one specific airline's computers, so other airlines cannot access them. This is not a problem 99% of the time, but can be a major headache if a flight cancellation requires you to switch to a flight with another airline. If this happens, get an "endorseable" paper ticket from the original airline as backup before heading over to the other airline's counter. Likewise, for complex itineraries involving multiple airlines (like round the world flights), you should opt for a paper ticket, especially since inter-airline e-ticketing agreements are not that common yet.
Not all destinations offered by major airlines are e-ticket eligible. But for the destinations that are e-ticket eligible, your airline may levy a surcharge if you choose to purchase a paper ticket.
If you do not really need loads of luggage and will be away from home for a very short time, it may be worth considering taking carry-on only. This saves time at your destination because you don't have to wait to claim your checked luggage, and certainly carry-on luggage is less prone to getting lost or stolen. It might also save you money because many airlines charge a fee for each checked bag. Check with your airline to make sure that your bag fits within their size/weight restrictions for carry-ons, and whether your purse or laptop counts toward the limit of how many bags you can carry (or see our List Of Airline Baggage Limits to help you compare airlines). Also, with tight security restrictions on what kinds of items you can take with you into the passenger compartment (particularly nothing that could be used as a weapon and liquids in anything except small bottles), a carry-on-only strategy may not be practical so it is also useful to check the airport which you will departing out of to see restrictions in addition to the ones implemented by the airline you will be using.
If you want to travel with carry-on only but also have luggage that should be checked-in, you can use a company that provides a luggage delivery service.
Besides the traditional check-in at the airport (see the Checking In section), your airline can allow you to check-in online from anywhere with internet access. They usually open at least 24 hours before your scheduled flight. By checking-in online, you can select your preferred seat in advance, quote your frequent flyer number for mileage accrual, inform the airline how many bags you are intending to check-in thus saving time at the airport. Furthermore, everybody else who is part of your traveling party can also be checked-in along with you.
Online check-in procedures, features, benefits and requirements vary per airline and possibly per airport of departure. For instance, some airlines may offer only online check-in and only if you are departing from certain airports so be sure to check with your airline if online check-in is available from your departure airport. In relation to that, some airlines will allow the printing of a boarding pass at home while other airlines will still require passengers to claim it at the airport. Another example is that for some airlines such as Southwest that do not assign seats, passengers are allowed to board earlier if they have checked-in in advance. Also, some airlines will make this option available only to electronic ticket holders while others will invite paper ticket holders to take advantage of this option as well.
If your airline does not let you print your boarding pass from where you are, be ready to note down or print all the other pertinent information given to you at the end of the online check-in process as they will be used to facilitate the rest of the check-in process at the airport.
The airline will usually provide a special lane for those who checked-in online; be sure to use it for faster service.
Don't know where to print your boarding pass? An emerging trend in the issuance of boarding passes is having electronic boarding pass. Some airlines such as American Airlines, Air Canada and KLM already offer this service to passengers flying selected routes. All you need is a WAP or WiFi-enabled mobile device (such as a Blackberry, iPhone, iTouch) and depending on the airline's system, you can check-in online or via your mobile device. You will receive a link to your electronic boarding pass or sometimes the boarding pass itself via SMS, MMS or e-mail on your mobile device (consult your mobile device manual on how to save SMS, emails). The boarding pass will contain a barcode which will be scanned at the checkpoints and gate. If you are on a "domestic" flight, you will only need to bring the mobile device containing the boarding pass in addition to your ID as required documents.
Some airlines and stations also offer alternative ways to check-in. Singapore Airlines for instance will allow you to check-in via telephone, fax, SMS or via a designated point in downtown Singapore. Lufthansa also offers SMS check-in.
If you are departing out of Hong Kong and taking the MTR Airport Express train, you can enjoy the convenience of a typical check-in (see the Checking In section) at the Hong Kong or Kowloon station. However, you will need to have already purchased an Airport Express ticket to enter the check-in area as there are faregates used for entry. Once you are done, you can just take the train and proceed directly to passport control upon arrival at the airport. This is very useful if you still have a lot of things to do in downtown Hong Kong but don't want to worry about carrying and transporting your luggage by yourself to the airport or leaving them somewhere. A similiar system exists in Kuala Lumpur, with the KLIA Ekspres train leaving from KL Sentral Station.
See Fundamentals of flying#Choosing your seat for an introduction to choosing a good seat. However, in addition to the choice of window seats (good views), aisle seats (more freedom to move) and middle seats (lacking the advantages of either window or aisle seats) there are several other considerations for choosing a slightly more comfortable economy class seat.
How close you sit to the front or back end of the plane is a mixed bag of benefits and drawbacks. In most jet aircraft, seats in back experience more cabin noise; the difference can be significant enough to cause discomfort, and it's one of the reasons why first class is always located in the front. However, the advantage of sitting near the front can be canceled by screaming infants, who ironically tend to be seated in this zone for its presumed quietness. In wide-body aircraft, rear economy window seats will provide you with a better view than in the front of the economy section, where the view is obstructed by the wings. The effects of turbulence are weakest near the leading edge of the wing, in the middle of the aircraft. Finally, US National Transportation Safety Board data from accidents in which some passengers survived and others did not, indicate that seats at the rear of the plane are statistically safer.
Airplanes also have "ordinary" seats that are less or more desirable for some reason:
It is possible to simulate the comfort of first class by securing a row of unoccupied seats in the middle section of larger aircraft, and raising the armrests to form a makeshift bed. Ask the gate agent to review the cabin plan immediately after the flight closes: if the agent says seats "XX C-D-F-G" are available, you've just found four contiguous seats in row XX. Try to be one of the first ones to board, and "secure" the seats with open newspapers or magazines--the object is to make the row seem uninviting until the doors close and seat assignments are more-or-less frozen. If you want to sleep, fasten your seatbelt over your blankets so that it's visible; otherwise, you'll be pestered by the flight attendents should the "fasten seatbelt" sign turn on mid-flight. Seating arrangements vary greatly between airplanes and airlines, so you'll need to consult detailed seat maps to figure out the good and bad ones. There are a few online sites that provide detailed maps for in-service aircraft and can help when choosing the best seat:
If you know what type of aircraft on which you are traveling, you can look up the seat map on all of these sites. SeatExpert also offers a unique feature that allows you to find a seat map by entering your flight information (airline, flight number, date of departure). SeatGuru also helps to find out what aircraft type you'll be flying  (although it gives little help beyond US airlines).
Sometimes aircraft scheduled to fly on a certain day for a certain flight may be substituted for another aircraft at the last minute. Therefore it is a good idea to take a look at all possible aircrafts and their respective configurations to find out the number of your preferred seat. Furthermore, an airline may have a certain kind of aircraft with different configurations. For example, the front row in one of Airline X's A330s may be row 1 but in another kind of A330 of Airline X it could be row 11 even if the front row of both A330s are of the same service class. It is also worth knowing if the an airline's aircraft is 2nd hand or leased from another airline as the seat design may have significant differences from in-house aircrafts.
To save time, please ensure that you pack only what is absolutely necessary for your trip as having really bulky or plenty of luggage can cause a security hassle, as well as additional costs if you want to check them in.
Most airlines usually allow you to bring your own food so in case you have a feeling food isn't going to be great or will cost you extra, there shouldn't be any harm in bringing your own home made meals (or even snacks).
See Packing list
If you want to reduce stress get to the airport at least an hour before the recommended time. (Check with your airline. In the US, the recommended time is usually 1 hour before takeoff for domestic flights, 2 hours for international. In some countries, it may be up to 3.) You will have to worry while standing in long queues for check-in, security, emigration, and more security. It also gives you a buffer for delays on the way to the airport.
If for some reason you are delayed and you're worried about missing your flight or the flight status indicates that you are in danger of missing your flight, find a member of your airline's staff or talk to staff at the security gate. If you are really in danger of missing your flight, they can arrange for speedy check-ins and for you to be moved up in queues. But they won't notice if you don't tell them. Calling for late-passenger instructions while you are on your way to the airport can also help. The plane will not wait for you; but it might wait if you're one of 50 connecting passengers on a delayed flight.
Check-in for domestic flights can usually done on the airline website up to 24 hours in advance of departure. If you have no baggage you can just proceed directly to your gate and flight with your printed boarding pass. If you have baggage, drop it at the bag drop. Removing old tags from your bag before proceeding to the bag drop will speed up this process.
If you can't check-in online, the check-in kiosks at the airport are much the same, and issue a boarding pass for you. You then need to go to the bag drop if you have more than carry on luggage.
If you have to check-in manually, be prepared for longer queues. Have your documentation ready before you get to the counter.
To avoid the delays associated with normal security checks, some airports offer express security lanes for frequent travellers who have pre-registered, or sometimes for passengers who have paid an additional fee.
In cases of heightened security, the expedited security check lanes may be suspended or closed.
Even if you don't hold a first/business class ticket or are a member of the premium tiers of your frequent flyer programme, there are ways for you to obtain lounge access. For example, Priority Pass allows you to gain access to lounges at most major airports at payment schemes convenient to your travelling needs.
Often a boarding order is specified by the gate attendants, usually boarding business class, passengers with special needs, and passengers at the back of the plane first. When no boarding order is given it may help if those seated at the back were to board first, but this doesn't usually happen, and aisle blockages are common. To estimate where your seat is, check your airline's website for seatmaps or ask staff at the gate. Regardless of the boarding order given, you are always free to remain in the boarding lounge until the final call for the plane. If you choose to spend the least time possible in a cramped aircraft cabin, just wait in the boarding lounge until you see the last person at the gate, and join the end of the queue.
Special meals are are a variation from the standard food offered by the airline. They generally match a variety of dietary or religions requirements, such as kosher, halal, vegetarian, diabetic, Low salt etc. Children's meals are often also available as special meals.
Special meals are offered by some airlines, often they can be ordered as part of the online booking process, or subsequently by managing the booking online. Special meals always need to be ordered at least 24 hours in advance, and the chances of getting one at check-in or when on the plane are slim (although it can never hurt to ask, as occasionally there are special meals on the plane from people who failed to board).
Special meals are usually served before other meals, this can be especially useful for children's meals. They can be of higher quality, but can also by lacking in some aspects, for example it is not uncommon for people ordering a vegetarian meal to get a vegan meal such as plain vegetables and rice (rather than that spinach and ricotta pasta they may have been hoping for).
Jet lag is a form of disorientation and fatigue caused by abruptly switching to a different sleeping/waking schedule and different daylight hours. Some people are affected more than others, but it tends to happen when crossing two or more time zones in a single flight (which first became commonplace with the development of commercial jet air travel, hence the term).
It doesn't follow that the greater the time difference between your origin and destination, the greater the jet lag. Often a short 4-5 hour difference that causes you to wake at 2am can be more fatiguing, and take longer to overcome than a complete reversal of day and night.
The basics to remember without going to too much effort, are to get a good night's sleep before your plane trip, and to sleep as much as possible during your plane trip. Ignore timezones, movies and entertainment, and just sleep whenever you can. When you arrive at your destination, forget your origin timezone and exist solely by the destination time.
Attempt to have a normal day in terms of the time zone you've flown into. If you land at 7AM, for example, you will probably have been served breakfast on your flight, so head to your accommodation (ask if they can mind your luggage (if you aren't travelling light), and go and see some of the sights, making sure to get daylight and fresh air. You'll feel tired, particularly by the mid-afternoon, but keep pushing on until an early dinnertime. Eat dinner and then go to bed. You should be tired enough for a good night's sleep.
Avoid planning long drives on your first day, as that is an easy way to get fatigued.
For short stays you can try to ignore the difference in time zone, and maintain the same sleeping schedule as you would according to the time "back home", perhaps keeping lights on to simulate daylight and pulling shades to simulate night. This is less practical for longer stays, or when travelling several time zones from home which would place you far out of synch with local hours. You can also try to slowly adjust your sleep schedule in advance of a long-distance trip. For example, before flying from California to Germany, you might start a week ahead of time, going to bed and waking up an hour earlier each day. These techniques are harder then they sound. Most peoples lives and travels have a multitude of distractions and activities which make shifting from the local timezone very difficult. Going to bed an hour earlier than normal is easy, but getting to sleep an hour earlier each night for 5 nights is nearly impossible.
The most important book ever written for the international traveler about preventing jet lag was Overcoming Jet Lag by Charles F. Ehret, Ph.D. and Lynne W. Scanlon, published by Berkley Publishing Group. Dr. Ehret's research was underwritten by The U.S. Government and used by The U.S. Army Rapid Deployment forces so they could be "fighting ready" no matter how many times zones they crossed to get to their destination. With Dr. Ehret's permission, that outdated and out-of-print book was rewritten, revised, and republished in October 2008 by Back2Press Books with a new title: The Cure for Jet Lag by Lynne Waller Scanlon and Charles F. Ehret, Ph.D.. The new edition contains multiple flight plans -- eastbound, westbound, zigzag, one landing, multiple landings and corresponding 3-Step Systems for each flight pattern. It also contains a chapter on "old" remedies used by international travelers like Henry Kissinger and Lyndon Johnson, some of which work fairly well, but none of which are comprehensive. Dr. Ehret did not subscribe to using any drugs to prevent jet lag. He felt not only that they were unnecessary but also that the body had to work over-time to get rid of the foreign substances in the body. This just added another negative element complicating jet lag.
Airlines generally offer discounted cargo rates to passengers, but this must be arranged prior to departure and the destination of the goods your want to ship as cargo must match the destination on your ticket. The biggest drawback is that you need to deliver and collect the goods from the airport's cargo terminal. There is also no guarantee when your excess luggage will arrive as excess luggage is sent on a "space available" basis only. There is also unforeseen charges to consider when picking up in the form of clearance charges, handling fees and in certain circumstances customs duties.
Sea mail or sea freight is much cheaper than air freight, let alone excess baggage rates. It can be a good way to get some baggage back home when you don't need it any longer, or even to send some baggage ahead for longer trips. See individual country listings for information reliability of postal service at your destination, however.
Luggage delivery services provide an alternative. Luggage is delivered by a specific date, normally between 48hrs and 5 days and a door-to-door service is provided so you don't have to go to the cargo terminal either at drop-off or to pick-up your luggage (port-to-port). All paperwork is provided to you and customs procedures are managed. The price is cheaper than airline cargo rates.
If you have a lot of baggage, consider flying business class or even first class. The ticket will cost more, but with most airlines you get a larger luggage allowance.
If you are a frequent flyer with status, you often get an increased baggage allowance when flying with your airline. However, be careful of codeshare flights, which can see you paying steep excess baggage flights when the plane you board is operated by another carrier.
Economy class passengers on long flights are prone to this, which is essentially blood clots forming in the veins, especially those in the legs. While such an occurrence is rare, one should still take precautions to minimize it. If your flight is 5 hours or longer, consider leaving your seat for a walk along the aisle every 2 hours or so. Even a trip to the washroom and back is better than nothing. First and business class passengers need not worry about this as there is generally more room for such passengers to exercise their legs sufficiently for this not to happen.
Children can get restless and irritable while flying and in airports. There are strategies you can follow to ensure your children enjoy the trip.
Consider safety. If you are traveling with a child who is less than three, have them sit on an approved child carrier, not on your lap. In the unlikely event of an emergency, a lap child may impede your ability to brace. Be aware of whether there is an oxygen mask for infants on the aircraft/row.
Anticipate delays. Even the shortest flights can be delayed. Ensure you have sufficient food, clothes, nappies, entertainment, to avoid turning a couple of hours delay into a nightmare.
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