Flown to Distraction

Travel is inherently noisy. It’s a natural by-product of life and movement. Sometimes it’s welcome and expected, and sometimes you just crave quiet. The solution could be as simple as good pair of headphones, or asking the train driver to get someone to tone down their conversation by announcing it over the sound system!

The next time you sit in an airplane, pay attention to how noisy the aircraft is. The engine, the air-conditioning, the rumble as you take off. Then think that there are actually people who are working to reduce the amount of noise produced by aircrafts. After reading an article in the New York Times on the “Technology for a Quieter America” report, I am surprised there is actually an initiative to create a “Quieter America”, which includes the amount of sound inflicted on travellers in airplane cabins.

As a rule, the further distance you travel, the less noise you’ll experience. The higher up in class you go, the further you are from the engine – or if you’re in coach, head to the back of the plane. Richard Fitzgerald is the ‘whispering coach’ for Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class. He trains crew to speak within cabins so that passengers are not disturbed during their inflight snooze. Which is great; if you bought a bed in the sky, you should be able to sleep in it. If you’re more partial to trains, Italy’s high-speed Frecciarossa could possibly be the quietest in Europe.

Hemingway, Rimbaud, and Satre were on to something when they made the iconic Parisian cafe Les Deux Magots their place of work. Many people still work at cafes – not just because of easy access to coffee and Wi-Fi – because the subtle cacophony of voices creates the right kind of ambience to stimulate creative thinking. And if you can’t make your way to a café that produces just the right amount of noise, in typical 21st century technophile fashion, there is even an app that produces the right level of background noise to get those creative juices flowing.

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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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