Captain Becker, Do pilots suffer from jet lag, and if so, how do they deal with it?
I must have jetted around the globe at least a couple of hundred times, but I never found a reliable cure for jetlag. We have what’s called a “napping policy” in the cockpit, which is basically the same thing as when you’re driving somewhere and you stop off at a rest area for a short nap. It would obviously be
a problem if both pilots closed their eyes at the same time, so to prevent this, we agree beforehand who gets to relax in their seat and close their eyes for 20 or 30 minutes, and when. We only nap during relatively smooth portions of the flight. If the crew puts itself in danger due to fatigue, it obviously puts passengers in danger too – which is why alternating naps is important and makes a lot of sense.
Do you have a tip for passengers?
Try to arrive at your destination in the evening. That’s what presidents do when traveling on affairs of state. Set your watch to local time and try to fight the fatigue and stay awake as long as possible. You may still wake up in the middle of the night and find yourself wide awake. If so, it’s a good idea to have a snack, and read or do some work. You may just have to resign yourself to the fact that your night is over.
Does Lufthansa factor in jet lag when drawing up work schedules?
To guarantee everyone’s safety, there is a complex set of rules in place. Not only pilots but also the rest of the crew suffer from jet lag. To put it simply: The more time zones we cross, the longer we need to rest before embarking on our next flight.