High flyers long to drift away in peace

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(First Edition)

FORGET all those in-flight movies and Dom Perignon 1963. According to a survey of frequent flyers, long-distance business travellers only want one thing to sleep and will avoid talking to their neighbours at all costs, writes Christian Wolmar.

They do, however, want another thing when they land. Over half of unmarried business travellers, and 14 per cent of married ones, usually carry a condom and 8 per cent occasionally do.

The survey of 935 business travellers by Official Airline Guides shows that the number travelling more than 21 times annually increased from 21per cent in 1992 to 35 per cent this year, and a further 28 per cent travelled between 11 and 20 times annually.

National characteristics shone through. Germans tuck into their meal, enjoy the wines and beers and then go to sleep. The French, however, are very diffident about both food and alcohol, tending to shun airline fare; 60 per cent instead choose to bury their head in a magazine. The British prioritise work and then relax after the meal, being the most likely to choose an alcoholic drink on a long-haul flight.

Women work harder while flying than men; 69 per cent on short-haul flights and 59 per cent on long-haul, significantly higher than for men.

Hardly anyone, though, wants to talk to their neighbour only 14per cent favour conversation.

Leading article, page 19