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CPP provides Life Assistance products via its Business Partners that help
consumers cope with the anxieties and complexities of modern life.
We travel more, value our free time and want to protect what’s most
important to us. We recently looked into the stresses often associated
with air travel and found that the airport experience could have significant
physiological effects on a traveller’s anxiety levels. Read on to find out more...

CPP provides Life Assistance products via its Business Partners that help
consumers cope with the anxieties and complexities of modern life.
We travel more, value our free time and want to protect what’s most
important to us. We recently looked into the stresses often associated
with air travel and found that the airport experience could have significant
physiological effects on a traveller’s anxiety levels. Read on to find out more...

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Stress and airport travelling

  1. 1. Stress & airport travelling CPP provides Life Assistance products via its Business Partners that help consumers cope with the anxieties and complexities of modern life. We travel more, value our free time and want to protect what’s most important to us. We recently looked into the stresses often associated with air travel and found that the airport experience could have significant physiological effects on a traveller’s anxiety levels. Our Airport Angel product offers the perfect remedy to help minimise these stresses. Airport lounges are a great way to relax and get that holiday feeling before boarding the plane – you’ll be guaranteed a seat and get complimentary snacks. CPP’s Airport Angel AirText service will even text you when your flight is boarding to ensure you get there on time. The stress response is an ancient physiological mechanism minor daily irritants have also been shown to generate stress. designed to alert us to potential threats in the environment. These could include having an argument with someone, Any situation that our ancestors found themselves in that was being late for an appointment or indeed travelling through unfamiliar or threatening would have initiated the stress a busy airport. response. This primitive mechanism remains with us today despite our environment having changed fundamentally. The CPP survey data shows 42% of people report airports Our species no longer has to contend with vicious predators make them feel stressed. and harsh landscapes; however we do face other equally Many psychologists are now viewing daily hassles harmful stressors. as comparable to, if not greater than major life changes It has been known for many years that major life events can as a significant source of stress (e.g. Ruffin 1993). initiate the stress response. These could include death of a Indeed one in ten (9%) of us are now avoiding flying family member, divorce, redundancy or illness. In many ways altogether because we consider them too stressful. these are obvious stressors, but what is not as obvious is that Q: How stressful, 7% 1% 10% 9% 1% 11% if at all, do you find travelling through 30% 16% an airport? 19% 33% Very stressful Fairly stressful 30% Not very stressful 33% Not at all stressful I have never travelled Male Female through an airport All respondents Don’t know Stress and airport travelling June 2011
  2. 2. Stress & airport travelling Features that make airports stressful So what specifically makes airports a stressful experience? Indeed the survey data suggests that the most stressful There are clearly many contenders for this but we parts of the airport experience relates to a sense of ‘lack will consider four main factors: of control’. Flight delays, mislaying belongings and getting to the gate on time – all these rely on factors often out • Lack of control of the individual’s control. • Busy environment • Time deadlines • ‘Accumulation effect’ 47% report being stressed Many psychological studies have considered the role by fearing the flight will ‘perceived control’ plays in mitigating the harmful effects of stress. When people believe they are in control of a situation be delayed – be that true or not – they can manage stressful events far more effectively. In a classic study looking into workplace 37% report being stressed stress, Marmot et al (1997) found that workers who expressed by running late and/or a lower sense of job control experienced more stress (as measured by increased cardiovascular problems) than missing the flight those who expressed higher control. In the same way, when people are travelling through airports, feeling unsure about 29% mislaying documents what might happen next is a common experience. This sense of being out of control is what leads to increased stress. and belongings Q: Which, if any, of 50 47% the following makes you feel stressed 40 and worried 37% 37% at an airport? 30 29% 27% 27% 24% 22% 20% 20 19% 19% 18% 16% 14% 13% 10 8% 5% 0 All respoondents who have travelled through an airport Flight being delayed Not getting to my gate in time Finding somewhere to park Missing my flight Not knowing where my gate is Getting lost on the way Running late Liquids not being accepted to the airport Mislaying documents and belongings through security Controlling or looking Forgotten something Getting searched after children Paying an excess on my baggage Catching my connecting flight Other Not be able to take all of my I never feel stressed luggage through security or worried at an airport Stress and airport travelling June 2011
  3. 3. Stress & airport travelling Busy Environment Time Deadlines Over the years many studies have demonstrated links with Another feature that initiates the stress response is responding crowded environments and stress. Busy environments to time deadlines. Again this is not unique to airports as any can be unpredictable and produce a feeling of ‘sensory form of travel requires an element of this. However combined overload’. All research on environmental crowding and stress with the size and business of terminals, time urgency frequently distinguishes between the density of people and the perception becomes an amplified factor. of crowding. If a large group of people are unexpected or we feel overwhelmed this can lead to increased stress. Indeed as mentioned earlier 37% of the survey sample report Airports deal with a very high density of people (arguably anxiety due to worries of running late. the highest number of people in one area at any given time). One interesting behavioural way of measuring time urgency Combine this with delays, queues, unfamiliar surroundings is through walking speed. Often, passengers will increase their and inadequate waiting areas and this contributes to a highly walking speed because of fear of being late or being unsure stressful experience. where to go. As with any busy environment they may just Heathrow is the largest UK airport and the biggest international get ‘swept along’ with the fast average pace. This is clearly airport in the world. The number of passengers passing not unique to airports but again combined with such a high through each year is in excess of 62 million. density of people the overall effect for many is increased stress. In 2007 Professor Richard Wiseman conducted a study that It is not surprising therefore that Heathrow was cited measured pace of walking in 34 cities around the world. in the survey data as the most stressful airport in the UK. He was theorising that pace of walking was correlated with stress. He points out “when you speed up,[people] become stressed”. Feeling the need to walk quickly or indeed being ‘swept along’ can in itself contribute to increased anxiety. Accumulation Effects Q: Which UK airport did/do you find Stressors have a habit of accumulating with the consequence that new stressors appear before existing ones have been the most stressful? resolved. For example if a person is anxious the night before 1% 1% 1% travelling (perhaps worrying about the flight or going to an 1% 1% 2% unfamiliar destination) this anxiety can be exacerbated if they then experience stress at the airport the following day. 2% If people are in a state of high arousal already, hassles 2% at airports can compound their stress. 25% The survey results certainly indicate that people may be stressed before they even set foot in the airport. 4% 13% said getting lost on the way to the airport made them stressed and 14% were put at a heightened level of anxiety by finding somewhere to park. 8% Potential harmful Effects One of the major issues with the stress response is that frequent exposure to stressors (chronic stress) has been linked to cardiovascular problems and immune system suppression. If people regularly fly and are exposed to delays, queues, 13% time deadlines and they perceive these as frustrating, this potentially is going to have a deleterious effect All respondents who have travelled through a UK airport on their health. London Heathrow International Airport Bristol Airport Gatwick Airport Glasgow Airport Manchester Airport Leeds-Bradford Stansted Airport International Airport London Luton Airport East Midlands Airport Birmingham International Airport Liverpool John Lennon Airport Newcastle Airport Stress and airport travelling June 2011
  4. 4. Stress & airport travelling Q: Which of the following do you think would improve your experience in airports? 70 62% 56% 50 49% 45% 42% 41% 40% 40 35% 34% 31% 31% 30 28% 27% 23% 23% 23% 22% 21% 20 16% 10 0 All respoondents who have travelled through an airport Less queuing Access to a lounge Shopping discounts Cheaper and nicer food Less people Text messages alerting you More and better seats Quiet areas with complementary to information changes Free snacks and drinks reading materials Outside space First class facilities regardless of class More relevant and frequent More hand luggage More check in desks updates More signposts Quiet and peaceful environment Free WiFi access throughout Supervised children’s Easier access to gates entertainment area Conclusions Research into hassles has suggested all forms of travel have Three ways in which you can help to minimise stress: the potential to be stressful. Airport travel is particularly stressful due to some of the following features: • Consider less busy airports • People often have ‘background’ worry regarding flying • Plan your airport itinerary in advice – this will place as well as anxiety about going to unfamiliar destinations. you in control This can be amplified if they experience stress at the • Take advantage of anything in the airport that will airport terminal on the day of travel. help you relax e.g. airport lounges that are often quiet, • Airports are arguably some of the busiest places people will have complimentary and accessible facilities on hand, ever experience. This can act as an environmental stressor and where you may feel in more control of your situation again amplifying any underlying anxiety people may The CPP research showed that 62% thought the airport have regarding flying. experience could be improved by less queuing, 56% • Experiencing a lack of control is again not unique to air by cheaper and nicer food, 49% more and better seats travel, but combined with flight delays, fears of running and 45% by free snacks and drinks. late or missing the flight altogether, the airport experience 35% specifically thought access to a lounge would can quickly become ‘un-empowering’ for individuals. improve their airport experience. Stress and airport travelling June 2011
  5. 5. Stress & airport travelling About CPP CPPGroup Plc (CPP) is an international Life Assistance business operating across 15 geographical markets with more than 200 Business Partners worldwide. Via its Business Partners, CPP provides Life Assistance products that help consumers cope with the anxieties and complexities of modern life. Today we are increasingly reliant on our payment cards and mobile phones, we travel more, value our free time, and we want to protect what is most valuable to us – at home and abroad. The loss or disruption of these life essentials can be inconvenient and stressful. CPP’s annually renewed and packaged products provide assistance and insurance across a wide range of market sectors helping our customers to live life and worry less. Airport Angel lounge service CPP’s Airport Angel product provides customers with access to more than 570 airports lounges in more than 332 airports worldwide with complimentary facilities such as food and drink, business facilities and a host of support services. For further information For more information on Airport Angel please contact Joanne Gibbons, product manager on 01904 544543 please contact: or e-mail joanne.gibbons@cpp.co.uk Nick Jones - Head of Public Relations Research methodology CPPGroup Plc, The research was conducted by ICM who interviewed a random Holgate Park, sample of 2005 adults aged 18+ online between 6-8 May 2011. York Surveys were conducted across the country and the results YO26 4GA have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Tel: 01904 544 387 Further information at www.icmresearch.co.uk E-Mail: nick.jones@cpp.co.uk Psychologist David Moxon analysed the CPP survey data www.cppgroupplc.com on behalf of CPP. David is a highly experienced psychology lecturer having taught on numerous degree and business qualifications for the last 19 years. In addition he has conducted many seminars for commercial and professional audiences throughout the UK. He has taught for a variety of HE Institutions including University College Northampton, De Montfort University, Leicester University and Loughborough University. David’s Masters Degree was acquired from University College London and focused on the relationship between stress and illness. He has written two textbooks, Memory & Human Relationships, an interactive CD-Rom, as well as authoring chapters on stress and abnormal behaviour for Heinemann publishers. David had full access to the research commissioned by CPP and used this along with his own extensive research into stress to comment on the findings. Stress and airport travelling June 2011

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