Jet Lag

Travel slug? Get a workout at the airport

It’s far too easy to become a slug when you’re on the road. But staying active offers business travelers an edge: the benefits of working out while traveling include stress reduction and an increased ability to combat jet lag.

GOODLIFE FITNESS - GoodLife Fitness Lands at Toronto Pearson

Travelers passing through Canada’s largest airport, Toronto Pearson International, now have an extra advantage: an airport health club.

GoodLife Fitness, which has over 300 locations across Canada, has opened a branch in the Terminal 1 Arrivals area (presecurity), offering a 10,000-square-foot workout area, changing rooms with showers, towel service and luggage storage. No workout clothing? No excuse: Workout clothing and sneakers are available for rent. A daily pass is CND $15, or US $14.58. Hours: 4:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Toronto Pearson may currently be the only airport in North America to have an in-terminal fitness club open to the public, but it’s not the first to give it a try. In the late 1990s, North America’s first airport fitness center opened at Pittsburgh International Airport (it closed not long after 9/11), and for several years there was a 24-hour fitness club at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.

While certainly convenient, on-site fitness clubs aren’t the only way to get a workout at the airport. Here are some options for working off calories in other North American airports.

Athletic Club

Athletic Club at the Chicago O’Hare Hilton


Accessible from the domestic terminals and popular with pilots and flight attendants as well as travelers, the 8,000-square-foot fitness center at the Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport has an indoor lap pool, sauna, steam room and full-service locker room. Work-out gear is available for purchase. Daily pass: $20; hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. weekends.

Detroit Westin pool

The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport, connected to the airport’s McNamara Terminal, offers guest passes to the fitness club, a pool and locker room for $15. Open 24 hours (pool closes at 11 p.m.)


San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has an enclosed yoga room in Terminal 2 and, at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, a privacy screen set up in front of a window on a walkway between Terminals B and D creates a yoga “studio” with a view. Burlington International Airport in Vermont also has set aside space for yoga and stretching as well. Loaner mats are available.

BWI Trail - courtesy BWI Airport

The 12.5 mile scenic BWI Trail completely encircles Baltimore-Washington International Airport and has a walking /biking path that includes a link to an aircraft observation park with picnic tables and a playground. “BWI has a longstanding reputation as the ‘Easy Come, Easy Go’ airport,” said airport spokesman Jonathan Dean. “The BWI trail resources are an important example of our commitment to a convenient, excellent experience for our customers.”


Calorie-burning mileage is marked on paths inside Indianapolis International Airport, Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and others. A tool on the American Heart Association website will help you find these paths and others in many other airports.

The Grand Hyatt DFW, connected to the international terminal at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, offers day passes to its fitness center and to the heated outdoor pool on the rooftop overlooking a runway, for $30. Locker room facilities include steam saunas; nonguests may use the facilities until 8 p.m.


At Vancouver International Airport, travelers may purchase a day pass to the health club at the Fairmont Vancouver Airport for CND $18 (US $17.50). Club features include a children’s wading pool, a mechanized three-lane lap pool that allows swimmers to adjust their own current, saunas and work-out equipment. Hours: daily 6:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Of course, even if there are no marked walking paths, health clubs or yoga studios at an airport, there’s still an easy—and free—way to work off calories: Take the stairs instead of the escalators, avoid the moving walkways and track your mileage with a clip-on pedometer or an app on your smartphone. Just try to set your path to avoid the airport candy shops—and the bars.

(My story about airport workouts first appeared on CNBC Road Warrior)

Long flight? How to sleep, have fun and get work done

The folks at Air New Zealand have run the numbers, tallied the comments and somehow interpreted the pie charts and pictures from the in-flight focus group about jet-lag (and more) that I participated in on an ANZ flight from Los Angeles to London.

Here’s a handy infographic of our group’s advice on packing, dressing and preparing in-flight activities for a long flight, making the most of the in-flight time and merging seamlessly into the day once you touch down.

air new zealand infographic

Air New Zealand tries to solve the jet lag problem

I spent a few days in London earlier this month courtesy of Air New Zealand.

The airline known for its series of cheeky “bare essentials” ads and in-flight safety videos and, most recently, its Hobbit-themed airplane, invited a small group of travel experts and journalists to fly as a focus group from Los Angeles International Airport to Heathrow.

Hbbit Aircraft

Our assignment for the “#NoLagtoLondon” trip: share our tried-and-true anti-jet lag tips and our “insider secrets” for arriving fresh and perky after a long haul flight.

The work began in the Air New Zealand Koru lounge  before we boarded the flight. Workbooks and white boards were handed out and, among other things, we were asked to make a pie-chart of how we planned to spend the 10 hour flight.

Here’s mine:

Air NEW ZEALAND pie chart

As you can tell, I had big plans for this flight: working, sleeping, chatting with my neighbors, eating, drinking (water only) and visiting the entertaining bathroom, which had both a mural of a chandelier and a real window.

I also planned to watch a few silly, romantic movies that I’d missed in the theaters and I knew I’d end up getting a bit weepy watching them – even though I rarely react that way on the ground.

During the flight the group was asked to read inkblots, write haiku poems and, finally, share our pre-flight rituals and our tips for making it through a long flight.

Here are some of the answers from our group:

Pre-flight rituals: pack (and re-pack), work late/tie up lose ends, create to-do lists and/or music playlists; send out trip details to friends and family members who might like to know what’s up.

I’d prepared by eating extremely light for a few days before the flight and passing up all offers of liquor. I’d planned on getting a good night’s sleep on the ground before the flight so I could work and watch movies during the flight but ended up staying up late in my hotel room working.

Dressing for a flight: most everyone was in favor of comfortable clothes that are casual and a bit dressy, although jeans seemed to be acceptable. I advocate layers that are easy to add or remove and, for ladies, no skirts that might ride up while you’re sleeping.

Shorts on a plane? Pretty much everyone agreed that was a no-no.

Arrival plans: our flight arrived late afternoon and everyone said they’d try to stay up as long a possible and go to sleep at a ‘normal’ time. Some folks did, but for the next two nights several of us were wide awake – and online, tweeting about it – at 2 in the morning.

Jet-lag-wise, I was loser on this trip.

I woke up at 2 am each night of the trip and one night just stayed awake – working and watching a BBC documentary about Tom Jones (!) till 4 in the morning.

Still wide awake, I opened the bottle of red wine that had been left in my room by our hosts at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London , a lovely and very swanky establishment not far from Harrods.

A few sips and I was sleepy, so I put the glass aside and, of course, knocked it over on the cream-colored rug the next morning.

And this is where I learned a lesson about top drawer hotel service.

After spilling the wine, I panicked, grabbed a white towel from the bathroom and tried blotting up the wine.

That did almost nothing except ruin a good towel, so I picked up the phone and called housekeeping to turn myself in.

Within moments a supervisor was at my door and a minute later a man arrived with a machine for a spot cleaning.

He didn’t scold. Instead he told me how smart I’d been for calling right away and not letting the red stain set.

“You’d be surprised how many guests spill or break something and we don’t find it until they leave. But look – your mess is all gone.”

And, seconds later, so was he.

$4,000 crystal-encrusted eye-masks for 5 lucky Virgin Atlantic passengers

You may sleep, but your neighbor may be kept awake by the sparkle.

Travelers hoping to avoid jet lag on a long-haul flight often don black eye masks in hopes of getting some shut-eye.

They may look bland, but they work.

But on Thursday, five lucky Virgin Atlantic passengers will be able to snooze in considerably better style wearing a limited-edition mask, decorated with $4,000 worth of Swarovski crystals.

The airline introduced new amenity kits for its economy, premium economy and first-class passengers on Sept. 1. To celebrate, it’s tucking five swanky Swarovski eye masks — each with more than 3,000 red, white and blue crystals — in the amenity kits handed out in the economy section of five flights. The crystals were all hand applied (10 hours per mask) by Saima Anwar, an artist who also creates crystal eyelashes for celebrities such as Katy Perry.

Thursday’s winners could include passengers on any of the airline’s flights to or from 11 cities in North America, including New York, Chicago, Boston and Los Angeles.

Five eyeshades have been created to mark the launch of new amenity kits which are now appearing on board all Virgin Atlantic flights.

“As the majority of our flights leave at night, arriving in London in the morning, we want to make sure our guests are well rested to begin their days, whether they be traveling for business or pleasure,” said Chris Rossi, senior vice president North America.

Virgin Atlantic has been sweet on Swarovski for a while. Since 2003, the airline’s first-class cabins have featured Swarovski crystals on the cabin walls. Curtains adorned with more than 1,000 Swarovski crystals were recently added to the revamped first-class section on the airline’s A330 aircraft.

While only five passengers will score the cool, crystal-encrusted eye-masks, the new, complimentary amenity kits are sure to be keepers. Each economy class kit contains one of the airline’s signature red eyeshades decorated with one of six sunglass designs, including one with heart-shaped frame and another in a shutter style.

The premium economy kits are charcoal gray pouches made from recycled plastic bottles. The pouches have silk linings and are designed to double as travel wallets.

Virgin Atlantic’s first-class passengers will be issued amenity kits made from the same recycled material, but their pouches will be big enough to be reused as holders for tablet devices or e-readers.

Why upgrade an amenity that many other airlines don’t even offer to travelers in the coach cabin? “To enhance the customer experience to travelers in any class by offering a number of on- and off-board amenities not found with other carriers,” said Rossi.

Or, as the airline states in a news release, because it’s “all part of Virgin Atlantic’s commitment to sustainability, and going green (and gorgeous!).”

(My story about Virgin Atlantic’s new amenity kits and the Swarovski crystal encrusted mask give-away first appeared on NBC News Travel)

Photos courtesy Virgin Atlantic.

Free Wi-Fi at Cleveland Airport and new napping suites at Atlanta Airport

Cleveland Rocks!

Kudos to the Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport  (CLE) and the non-profit group OneCommunity for working together to bring permanent free Wi-Fi to the airport.

Cleveland Airport joins many other smart airports that offer travelers free Wi-Fi year round.  And, lest you forget, from now through January 15, 2010, Google is covering the Wi-Fi fees at a 47 airports, from Seattle to Miami.  Here’s a full list of the participating airports . Let’s hope those airports continue offering the service for free after that.

Nap Time at ATL

ScreenHunter_01 Nov. 19 00.13

You can now make a reservation at the first Minute Suites, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). These “suites”, located inside the terminal on the B Concourse have daybeds, pillows and blankets, sound masking systems, and a “napware” audio program.  Each suite also has a a TV, desk, phone, and a computer.   How much will you pay to snooze in a “suite”?  The minimum reservation accepted is 1 hour and costs $30. After that it’s $7.50 each 15 minutes.

If you try this out, please let us know what you think!