US airline United has partnered with Timeshifter, an app that advises air passengers when to seek and avoid sunshine, sleep and consume caffeine so that they can avoid jet lag. Emily Eastman reports
The partnership between United and Timeshifter provides members of the airline’s MileagePlus loyalty scheme with access to a free, science-based, anti-jet jet lag plan that only demands small actions at specific times. These include what time to go to bed and when to take melatonin (a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle).
Normally access to the Timeshifter app costs US$9.99 per one-way trip or US$24.99 for an annual subscription. (One free plan is offered to everyone but MileagePlus members get an extra one.)
The Timeshifter app has been developed by leading researchers in sleep and circadian neuroscience and is tailored for travellers crossing three or more time zones. For each user, a customised plan is generated based on factors including normal sleep patterns, flight details and individual preferences. “We want to do everything we can to help improve the experience of travelling across time zones, whether it’s a business trip to Tel Aviv or a vacation to Tahiti, our customers should arrive feeling fresh and ready to hit the ground running,” says United’s vice-president of loyalty and president of MileagePlus, Luc Bondar.
Bondar adds: “Timeshifter takes all the guesswork out of avoiding jet lag and instead uses science and algorithms to design a customised, step-by-step trip across time zones. I was a believer the first time I used the app and I think our customers will love it too.”
Timeshifter is built around what it calls “the jet lag science we have all missed”. It says the key to quick adaptation to a new time zone is timed light exposure and melatonin supplements, adding that astronauts and elite athletes have been using “timeshifting” techniques for years.The aim is to ensure travellers arrive at their destination well-rested and able to optimise their productivity, enjoyment and health.
The Timeshifter website features a “jet lag cost calculator”. Companies can enter data such as the number of employees who travel, number of annual trips take, time zones crossed and average days per trip and calculate the total cost of jet lag to their business.United flies some of the longest routes in the world, including nonstop services between Houston and Sydney (17 hours 35 minutes), and between San Francisco and Singapore (17 hours 25 minutes).
In December, the airline became the first to fly direct from North America to Cape Town with a new service from New York Newark (14 hours 30 minutes). In total, United flies 320 routes to 120 international destinations from the US.
MileagePlus members will receive a free jet lag plan for a flight of their choosing in addition to the complimentary trial, which gives customers two free flight plans.
Meanwhile, elite passengers with Premier 1K status can sign up for free annual subscriptions for unlimited Timeshifter access whenever they travel.
The partnership marks the latest in United’s efforts to improve travel for its MileagePlus members. It follows the airline’s announcement that MileagePlus miles no longer expire and a partnership with expedited airport security programme CLEAR that provides free or heavily discounted memberships for faster-track security.