EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (December 2006) - Air New Zealand today announced the results of its groundbreaking physiological and psychological study of vacation travelers. The program studied passengers flying Air New Zealand from Los Angeles to Auckland and was conducted by former NASA scientists at Alertness Solutions, who employed equipment and techniques heretofore only used to analyze the effect of travel on astronauts and pilots.

Among the findings is a dramatic 82 percent spike in performance among vacationers, showcasing the highest increase ever documented through objective testing. Even more relevant to corporate America is that the subjects continued to operate at an increased performance of nearly 25 percent even after returning from their New Zealand vacation.

“More than 43 percent of Americans don't even have plans to take a vacation this year because the country's work ethic demands productivity to the point that it's actually undermining itself," said Roger Poulton, Vice President - The Americas, Air New Zealand. “Ironically, our study definitively proves Americans would be more productive if they took their vacations."

This study is part of Air New Zealand's exploration of what it has titled the “Vacation Gap" - the gap that exists between travelers' perceptions of the effects of a vacation versus its actual physiological and psychological effects. Air New Zealand is a pioneer of international vacation travel and has been flying Americans to New Zealand for more than 40 years.

"With the recent $800 million upgrade to our fleet, Air New Zealand and its planes are at the cutting-edge of air travel. Now, this study's staggering findings give us the tools to begin exploring ways in which we can leverage our new offerings even more to help our travelers enhance and extend their New Zealand vacation experience," added Poulton.

"With the recent $800 million upgrade to our fleet, Air New Zealand and its planes are at the cutting-edge of air travel. Now, this study's staggering findings give us the tools to begin exploring ways in which we can leverage our new offerings even more to help our travelers enhance and extend their New Zealand vacation experience," added Poulton.

Details of the Study

The comprehensive study was conducted in April and May of 2006 and tracked both physiological and psychological changes in the travelers using a variety of specialized equipment and techniques:

Ambulatory Physical Monitor (APM)

  • The subjects were wired to an Ambulatory Physical Monitor (APM) prior to take-off from Los Angeles en route to New Zealand. The APM was removed during the vacation itself and reattached to the subjects for the return flight to Los Angeles. This equipment was used to monitor brain, eye and muscle activity as well as heart rate throughout the flight.

Psycho Motor Vigilance (PMV)

  • During the flight both to and from New Zealand as well as at regular intervals during their vacation , the subjects were asked to perform Psycho Motor Vigilance (PMV) tests on a hand-held device to measure alertness and reaction times, ultimately dictating performance levels at various points throughout their vacation.

Handheld Electronics

  • In addition, the subjects used a wrist actigraph to collect 24-hour activity levels throughout the journey, as well as a hand-held electronic diary to provide daily reports on activities, mood, stress and relaxation.

"The 82 percent performance increase is unprecedented," said Dr. Mark Rosekind, President of Alertness Solutions. "The only study that has ever come close to producing results this compelling was a study testing the performance of airline pilots after taking a 20-minute nap. Those results only illustrated a 34 percent increase of performance, which demonstrates the tremendous impact of the vacation mind-set."

The Impact of Vacation on Health

The physiological benefits of a vacation extend well after passengers arrive back home. The subjects continued to get more sleep after they returned from vacation with an average of nearly 20 more minutes each night.

In addition, following their return from vacation, the subjects enjoyed three times more deep sleep, the sleep level during which the body and cells physically regenerate and restore themselves. Post-vacation deep sleep accounted for almost 20 percent of travelers' total sleep time - whereas the average pre-vacation deep sleep only accounted for six percent.

"Of perhaps greater importance than performance increase, however, is the conclusive data demonstrating that vacations result in improved health, sleep and healing," said Dr. Rosekind.

In addition, the data collected from the APM demonstrates that going on vacation actually lowers travelers' heart rates by more than four percent, proving the positive physiological effects of vacationing.

"After vacationing with us, travelers returned feeling better and working better," said Poulton, "and we have the numbers to prove it."

More information on the Vacation Gap study and survey results is available at www.vacationgap.com.

 

ENDS

Allison Schwartz/Angelina Duran
Cohn & Wolfe
(310) 967-2978 / (310) 967-2907
allison_schwartz@cohnwolfe.com
angelina_duran@cohnwolfe.com

Karen Laugesen
Air New Zealand
(310) 648 - 7039
karen.laugesen@airnz.com