How to avoid jet lag …

I have long wondered how executives and politicians manage to travel great distances and yet always seem fresh on arrival. Their time tables have to be screwed up. Yet they manage to sit through meetings and do some public speaking as if they were fresh.

I cannot do that. I need at least two days on arrival (in this case France) from Denver, an eight hour time difference. We do our best to stay awake as long as possible once we get here. Last night that was until 7:30 PM, and when I awoke at 11:30 PM I took a couple of sleeping pills that got me through until now, almost 3 AM Geneva time. I feel rested and refreshed, but there is along day ahead and another night of fighting to stay awake into a normal schedule. It usually takes those two days to work my  way into the new time zone.

On the long overseas flight, which I am long accustomed to, I don’t try to read. I watch movies. They offer hundreds. I remember 2006, my first overseas flight to Barcelona, Spain, we took off from Minneapolis, and maybe 45 minutes into the flight the pilot explained that there was a slight problem with the aircraft and that we had to return to Minneapolis. First, he said, he was going to have to fly around northern territory and dump all the fuel. He said it would take about fifteen minutes.

That was my first exposure to airline time. It took over an hour. They always minimize, at least by a factor of four. As we went in circles over the Boundary Waters, a gentleman behind us who had airline experience said the aircraft had real problems. It was not banking on turns. We took a long, long arc to make a straight run at Minneapolis airport, and on landing were shocked to see the runway lined with fire engines and ambulances. The pilot and crew had done a marvelous job at keeping everyone calm. We had no idea of the apparent danger we were in.

They put us on a new aircraft and we resumed our journey to London and Heathrow, where we had a five-hour layover anyway, so no missed connections. The only distraction offered back then was a large screen at the front of the cabin that tracked our progress as we flew over Greenland and then southern Ireland before landing. The tedium was excruciating. London to Barcelona seemed a breeze later, just a few hours.

Two things I remember from that rookie trip: One, Northwest offered to upgrade us to first class from coach for $50 each. I did not take them up on the offer, and to this day am still kicking myself. The other was our return flight. We had unknowingly booked to land at Heathrow, and fly out of Gatwick. We had to bus from one to the other on a very tight schedule. We took a shuttle bus, and at a terminal on arrival I was prepared to disembark. My wife looked at the board outside and said “Hold on,” and asked the driver if this was the Northwest terminal. No, he said. Stay on the bus. It is next. She saved the day.

On arrival, we presented the clerk with our preprinted boarding passes from the night before, and were told they were unacceptable, so to go to a kiosk and print real ones. We did, and went across the terminal to the gate to security, where we found we had only one of the two passes. I quickly realized that I had not waited long enough, and that the second boarding pass was still in the kiosk. I ran across the terminal (which I could still do in 2006) back, and it was still there! I ran again, we passed the security gate, and we made our flight with maybe ten minutes to spare.

All that excitement only to realize that we now had ten hours of sitting upright ahead of us. Rookies.

Yesterday I watched two movies in flight, each very similar. The first was the heavily awarded Blood Diamond from 2006. I must say that Leo DiCaprio is a very convincing  actor, as was Djimoun Hansou, each nominated for many awards. Jennifer Connelly played a fiercely independent journalist, which in real  life do not exist. She had far fewer nominations.

The movie had a World War II vintage look about it, as rebels and soldiers armed with machine guns mowed people down like so many ants. Our three heroes seemed immune. All they had to do was run away, hide behind a log, and they avoided being hit. In WWII movies, not only could our heroes not be harmed by gunfire, but Nazis could not shoot for shit. The movie was fast paced and tense, and the time went by quickly.

The second movie I watched was Top Gun – Maverick with 60 year old Tom Cruise looking and acting like a thirty-something. It too was fast paced and tense, but the maneuvers made by fighter jets, sudden turns in midair, close encounters that do not cause accidents … hard to fathom. They defy the laws of motion.  There goes willing suspension of disbelief.

Jennifer Connolly appears once again, looking every bit as young as she did 15 years earlier in Blood Diamond, and she and Cruise did a love scene. It made me cringe … Cruise cannot pull that stuff off! He’s  not good at it, probably inexperienced with women. I read or heard once that with Nichole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut that he had to be coached.

Cruise once jumped up and down in a chair on Ophra claiming to be in love with Katie Holmes. “I didn’t buy it” said Ophra. Neither did I. Later on a South Park they placed Cruise working a summer job in a fudge packing plant, and yes, during a meeting, jumping up and down on a couch. He did not sue about the fudge packing reference, which was hilarious.,

Well, I am up at 2AM and it is now 3:45. Today is just reconnaissance, catching up, so we’ll be walking around this small French town, I’ll be taking photos, which I cannot download as this iPad does not offer a USB and I have no other means. My camera is equipped with Bluetooth, but I have opted not to use it as too many photos are rejects and memory is sparse on this old iPad. Maybe this will be a good opportunity to learn to use it.

Good day to all. It is now 8PM in Denver 10PM in New York, and 4AM in my real time.

4 thoughts on “How to avoid jet lag …

  1. Fly in first class, or business class, or coach plus, the biggest space you can afford. An ‘ambiem’ sleeping pill used to help me catch ~4 hours when I did a lot of those flights.


    1. We do when possible fly Delta Comfort Plus, more legroom, no middle seat. I took Temazepam and did manage to sleep a few hours. The flight was not even half full, surprising as I have not been on a less than fully booked American flight in ages. In coach people were sprawled out over two or three seats to sleep.


  2. I read somewhere that taking your shoes off and grounding on the for 5 to 20 minutes as soon as possible after the flight helps. I managed to try it out once, and I thought it helped a lot.


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