British Airways Knows if You’re Happy

British Airways Happiness Blanket

I must admit I did not see this one coming. Did you know British Airways has a new bright idea? They’re calling it a “happiness blanket.” Previously unknown etiology.

I was hoping it was something that made us happy.But au contraire. The stiff-upper-lip Brits plan to measure our “well being” while we fly with a mood-sensing color-changing blanket. Like a loose-wired streetlight. Seriously.

If your blanket turns red you’re uptight (read temple veins standing out and pulsing). If it turns blue, all is well.Purple mode can go either way, like you’re out on a ledge. Check out the carrier’s we-invented-the-happiness-blanket YouTube advertisement.

So now we’ve got red and blue states at 30,000 feet and not just on political ground in the United States.

I say they ought to wrap the flight attendants in happy blankets so we know which ones to avoid.

CNN reports British Airways began testing the blankets last week. Supposedly, wireless Bluetooth technology sends neuro-sensors deep diving into our brains, surfing the waves. Then receive-mode fiber optics woven into the blanket change color and signal to everyone on board just how relaxed or tense we really are.

Or maybe how turned on.

Get this. The rocket scientists working for BA hypothesize that food, drink and sleep make for relaxed passengers. And some entertainment is better than others. What about seating that keeps us all nose-pore range from everyone else like straphangers on the bus?

The airline hopes that theory leads to practice. They say monitoring passengers’ sleep and relaxation patterns will result in a better in-flight experience. Maybe even changes to meals and entertainment. But not ticket prices or ancillary fees.

“Using technology like the ‘happiness blanket’ is another way for us to investigate how our customers’ relaxation and sleep is affected by everything on board, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat and their position in the seat,” reads a British Airways news release.

Last week they tried happiness blankets with volunteers on BA Flight 189, a Dreamliner from London to JFK. They tracked color changes and pinpointed when passengers were most comfortable. Or not.

So what if you’re tense? CNN says “that doesn’t mean your flight attendant will offer you a drink if your blanket turns red.” No point faking it. Science doesn’t suffer pretenders.

They also report “the blankets will be used only for data collection and not as a way to identify passengers in need of immediate assistance.” At FlyerTalk, we’ve already had the call-button debate.

British Airways’ managing director of brands and customer experience told the London Daily Mail, “This is the first time this technology has been used by any airline to help shape how service is delivered on board an aircraft.”

He was so enthusiastic he didn’t even need pom-poms.

The Tarmac’s View: The obvious question to ask British Airways is what if you’re not happy. What are they going to follow up with? They say they’ll take the blankets back to the shop and reconfigure flights. Or maybe this whole dipstick science is hooey.

I reckon what they really need are breathalyzers so they have data to start limiting the gin and tonics when onboard drunks creep into our happiness. Or how about Bluetooth triggered alarm clocks in the cockpit so passengers could be certain the captain hasn’t drifted off over the North Atlantic?

No, I did not see this one coming.

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Comments (Showing 1 of 1)

  • highgamma at 7:25pm July 02, 2014

    Don’t gather data on things you might not want to know.

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