. BUSINESS TRAVEL'S TOLL | Meetings & Conventions


Study shows effect on productivity, personal life&Changes at Air France

Trip recovery. If it seems like being on the road takes a lot out of travelers, that’s because it does. More than half of respondents to a survey of frequent business travelers (who fly at least once a month) say it takes them at least two days to return to their “normal” lives.

The study was conducted by San Francisco-based research firm Socratic Technologies for San Mateo, Calif.-based Kensington Technology Group, the travel-related computer accessories division of ACCO Brands Inc. Among the findings:

" Fifty percent of the 600 respondents need up to two days to catch up on work responsibilities after a business trip; 12 percent say it takes three days.
" Road warriors need time to recover outside the office, as well: 53 percent require one to two days to recuperate physically, and 51 percent take the same amount of time to get their personal lives back on track.
" As for health concerns, two out of five respondents experience headaches, back and neck pain or sleeplessness when on the road, and three out of five report suffering significant fatigue.
" More than half (55 percent) feel they spend too much unproductive time traveling to and from airports.
" A sizable 41 percent are stressed by time wasted in airport security lines.
" Of those respondents who travel with laptop computers (99 percent), only 39 percent log on during flights.

Air France reconfigures& First-class seating on many Air France planes will get more posh and more rare under the carrier’s new strategic plan.
The airline also will improve business class across the entire long-haul fleet; planes will be outfitted with new seats that recline 180 degrees.
As part of the plan, 51 planes in Air France’s long-haul fleet will eliminate first class, offering only business and economy. Of the 33 aircraft that will offer first class, 40 percent will be reconfigured so the premium section accommodates eight flyers (down from 12 ) in new, flat-lying, mattress-covered sleeper seats. The new and improved first class will be available on 20 long-haul routes, including flights from both Los Angeles and New York to Paris.
The fleet overhaul will begin this month and will be completed by summer 2005.

New SkyTeam addition. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, which announced plans to merge with Air France last month, has applied to join SkyTeam, the global airline alliance whose members include Air France, Alitalia, Delta Air Lines and Korean Air. While no official date has been set, the alliance anticipates awarding customer benefits within six to nine months.

Stay e-connected. Continental Airlines recently completed the installation of Verizon Airfone JetConnect with e-mail (supporting e-mail, instant messaging and text messaging) on most of its domestic flights.
The service, accessible by connecting a laptop to a jack  on an Airfone handset, enables passengers to send and receive e-mail up to 5Kb per message for a fee of $15.98 per flight. Larger files can be viewed for an extra fee. Text messaging and instant messaging also are available through JetConnect for an additional $5.99.

Time for one more call. In the past, carriers limited passengers’ access to electronic devices until planes were parked at the gate. But now, four carriers have extended on-board talk time for passengers using personal cell phones.
American Airlines and Continental Airlines now allow cell phone use shortly after planes hit the runway. And both Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines permit the use of devices such as cell phones and two-way pagers after flight attendants make final arrival announcements.