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GUEST COLUMN


A CRY IN THE SKY


Does flying make you feel emotional? If so, you’re not alone


W


Richard Tams Richard Tams is founder of travel consultancy Tailwind Advisory, which he launched last year following a career at British Airways spanning 27 years


HILE ON A LONG-HAUL FLIGHT, have you ever found yourself crying inexplicably at the end of a Bridget Jones movie or sobbing into your napkin during Toy Story 3? Well,


don’t be embarrassed; this is purely a manifestation of AALS or Altitude Adjusted Lachrymosity Syndrome. Yes, such a thing exists and it affects more flyers than you would imagine, not just those who have overindulged in the in-flight Pinot Noir. In 2018 a US study entitled No Tears in


Heaven: Did the media create the pseudo-phe- nomenon “Altitude-Adjusted Lachrymosity Syndrome ?” found that AALS is not an actual medical condition but more of a phenomenon. The evidence showed that people were more likely to cry or feel heightened emotions while watching a film at altitude.


The study did not cite any single reason for this, but possible explanations include significantly increased exposure to many films in a short period of time, watching “guilty pleasure” films and having recently


IT’S NOT UNTIL YOU START CRYING AT


THE EXPENDABLES 2


THAT YOU CAN REALLY DECLARE THAT YOU HAVE AALS


experienced an emotional life event. It is, of course, possible that such an emotional event may simply be the experience of saying goodbye to one’s loved ones or clambering through an airport terminal. More women experience AALS, although most of my male friends have confessed to bouts of onboard tearfulness. As in-flight entertainment has improved, we’ve all been able to create a bubble in which we are now isolated from the hubbub of the cabin and can focus com- pletely on the tearjerker movie at hand.


GETTING A DIAGNOSIS


Purists would argue that for this syndrome to be properly diagnosed, the film that is believed to be causing it must be one that would not normally be tear-inducing. So that means it’s not until you start crying at The Expendables 2 that you can really declare that you have AALS.


But in-flight entertainment does not


have to be the cause of our lachrymosity at all. I remember when I departed on my first overseas posting to the Far East with British Airways. At the tender age of 23, I was inconsolable for a good proportion of my flight to Seoul. What had seemed excit- ing and pioneering in the weeks leading up to my departure, now felt like ill-informed folly. In short, I was “solid gone” as modern vernacular would have it. This was cer- tainly an emotional life event made worse by the fact that my eight suitcases and I had been put to standby until ten minutes before departure. What is the cure for AALS? Avoid any emotionally charged in-flight entertain- ment (especially any “guilty pleasure” viewing), stay off the wine and ditch the fancy headphones. Watch Fast and the Furious 8 and have a fizzy drink. If you still get tearful, you’ve got incurable AALS.


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 149


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