DESPERATE MEASURES

Airlines want you to do these ridiculous mindfulness exercises in your cramped seat

Obsession
Getting There
Obsession
Getting There

As life on an airplane continues to get worse for most travelers, the airline industry has been grasping for ways to dull the pain.

Unfortunately, the solutions on offer in economy class don’t involve cushier airplane seating or less crowded cabins (although one airline decided that our overhead luggage—yes, the luggage—deserves more breathing room). Instead, many airlines and airports are turning to questionable fixes, including in-flight videos and therapy dogs to calm the harried masses.

Last week, British Airways rolled out new mindfulness videos and healthy eating tips on its new A380 service between San Francisco and London. The purpose, the company said in a statement, is to “provide fliers with meditation techniques for a relaxed and positive state of mind.”

The videos are available both during the flight and on the airline’s mindfulness website, alongside instructions for relaxation exercises and advice on how to eat and sleep.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.00.37 AM
(British Airlines)

The airline has previously shown in-flight videos featuring dogs and cats as another de-stressor. Quartz has reached out to British Airways for comment and will update this post with any response.

Some airlines and airports have focused on calming irritated passengers before they step onto the plane. De-stressing iPads have been placed in some airport waiting areas, for example, with free Wi-Fi to browse the internet or order food. United Airlines recently brought therapy dogs into airport waiting areas and corridors, to give passengers something warm and soft to pet as they mull the cramped surroundings awaiting them on board.

These measures may be good PR for the industry, but they have yet to temper the rage building among squeezed economy fliers suffering from less space and fewer amenities.

The number of consumer complaints filed against US airlines with the US department of transportation, for instance, grew more than 30% between 2009 and 2013, according to the consumer advocacy group USPIRG. Meanwhile, the number of reports globally of unruly passengers in-flight (think drunken ranters and people armed with knee defenders) has also risen sharply, according data collected by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an airline trade group.

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