British Airways Testing 'Happiness Blanket' to Help You Sleep Better on Flights

There’s arguably nothing better than a good blanket to keep you warm and comfy during a long flight. Unless that blanket could change colors to alert your flight attendant that you want another in-air cocktail. 


A British Airways passenger enjoys a meal while wearing the Happiness Blanket. (Picture: British Airways)

British Airways is taking the idea of giving customers what they want to a whole new level. As a tool to help passengers sleep better on their planes, the airline is conducting a study with high-tech blankets that monitor brain waves and change colors based on the passenger’s mood. Guys, it’s like a mood ring for your body ― it’s a mood blanket!

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Technically, it’s called the “Happiness Blanket,” and British Airways is using it on flights between New York and London. Here’s how it works: Passengers strap on a comfy headband embedded with sensors that monitor brain activity. Then all they have to do is snuggle up under the cashmere (how chic!) blanket, lay back, and relax. The blanket connects to the headband via Bluetooth, and is woven with fiber optics, so the blanket glows red if the passenger is feeling tense. If the person is zen-like and relaxed, the blanket displays a calming blue light. And if the person is slightly stressed but really enjoying the complimentary peanuts, the blanket will take on a purple-ish color.


A closer look at the blanket’s technology. (Picture: British Airways)

As soon as I heard about this blanket I had to try it out. If something other than my zodiac sign is able to predict my moods, then I’m all for it. Luckily, British Airways was awesome enough to bring by a sample and demo its functions for us.

As you can see, I spend a lot of my time in an anxious state (thanks a lot, New York City!), and I had a case of the giggles, so I was glowing bright red for the majority of the time.  But after I was laying there for a couple of moments, counting some sheep and taking a few Deepak Chopra relaxing breaths, the blanket reacted by turning a fuchsia hue. Pretty cool! Had I been given a bacon sandwich, I think I would have gotten all the way to blue. 


Besides the obvious fact that this blanket made me look like an oversize Capri Sun, British Airways says it’s learning a lot from its study.

“(It’s) another way for us to investigate how our customers’ relaxation and sleep is affected by everything on board, from the amount of light in the cabin, when they eat and their position in the seat, “ said Frank van der Post, British Airways’ managing director brands and customer experience.  “We take our customers’ sleep and relaxation very seriously.”

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Last week, a group of volunteers on board the BA189 Dreamliner service from London Heathrow Airport to JFK International Airport in New York, were among the first to try out the hi-tech blankets for themselves and report on their experiences. These blankets won’t become standard on flights — instead, the airline hopes the info gathered from the study will help to improve aspects of the in-flight service, including changing the timing of meals, what food is served, and even the types of films shown.

As a passenger, this sounds like a pretty sweet deal to me. But if I were a flight attendant I might just use the blankets to select which passengers to avoid, namely, all of the people glowing bright devil red. That’s probably why I’m not in the service industry.

Check out a video of how the blanket works: 

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