I’ve recently traveled back across the Atlantic from the USA to Europe. While in and of itself this is nothing special, I had expected a bit of jet lag, but nothing like what I’ve gone through this past week. Normally, the first few days after the flight back are a bit trying and it feels like I’ve got an astronaut’s helmet around my head, but then, things usually start getting back to normal. This time though, I still haven’t fully managed to reset my body clock and adjust to the local time. I know this all sounds very much like a first world problem, and I’m really not complaining, but I am surprised that it’s hit me so hard this journey across the pond.
There are apparently tricks one can use in order to avoid jet lag, but I didn’t try any of those and so won’t be able to report on their efficacy. What I can attest to however, is the feeling of being utterly out of touch such as one sees in movies when they want to convey the cinematic version of jet lag. With some low ambient music treated with an echo, a dim metallic hum, and lights that shine cold white through some soulless airport terminal, I could be living a scene from Lost in Translation. Although I’d be thrilled to have the chance to meet Bill Murray, I’m not keen on parroting his performance in that film at all. Still, it feels rather like I’ve assumed his role in another film entirely — Groundhog Day! Each day since returning, has somehow been exactly the same day.
Ultimately, air travel is quite simply the safest and quickest way of crossing the Atlantic. I’m not afraid of flying, but the bigger the plane the better in my opinion. Despite the size of the grand Boeing that carried me safely across the Atlantic twice recently, they have not managed to make the journey any more comfortable for passengers. Seats are still only able to recline mere millimeters, the food is still somehow over-salted and yet thoroughly bland, the staff are still friendly without being accommodating in the slightest. Doesn’t that just make matters worse? Not only is flying biologically traumatic, but the companies who are making us all pay to sit for eight hours with our knees up by our ears, aren’t in the least bit interested in making the passage comfortable for us. Seemingly, the exorbitant price of airline tickets these days ensures only a crash-free flight from A to B (well, most of the time), but nothing else that might lead one to actually enjoy the experience.
Jet lag doesn’t just cloud the mind and cause one to sleep at inopportune and inappropriate times, it compels us to recall just how disgustingly absent the people who design these machines are of our well-being. Sure, they are focused on our survival (and that is certainly a good thing), but at those prices I’d like to do a bit more than survive — I’d like to thrive…and maybe get some headphones that will work through the whole flight without any glitches. But, that’s asking too much it would seem. I could always upgrade to first class or business, though the very sound of something called, “Business Class” make my skin crawl. It sounds like part of some crap MBA program and that’s enough to lead me to pass…and there’s the price. There’s even first class, or elite class, or whatever those people who can afford comfort are calling their section in the plane these days…and good for them. I don’t begrudge their success, I just envy their flawless multimedia options and real glass drinking glasses. But, I bet even for all of their plush seating and copious leg room, they still get jet lag! Jet lag, so it seems, is the great aviation equalizer.