If wearing the emergency life vest and a lot of self-talk is what it takes to get you in the air, the chances are that you’re a nervous flyer. For some people pre-flight stress is about a fear of missing their plane, or anxiety about the festival they’re travelling to or the critical match they’re due to play – while for others it’s the prospect of being 35,000 feet in the air.
For those who get the jitters, the build up can begin as soon as you start packing your socks and jocks. Whether you’re a seasoned premiership football player or an award winning actor, the reason for the nerves can vary - from a dislike of being in an enclosed space to the fear of heights, turbulence, motion sickness, many hours without a cigarette or aircraft safety. Fortunately only around 6 per cent of people actually have aviophobia, a full-blown fear that prevents them from flying.
The good news is that flying is very safe and airlines are increasingly training staff to recognise nervous flyers, while also introducing in-flight meditation videos and audio programs to help you chillax.
Virgin Australia (VA) has just gone one step further by launching a new program to identify and support nervous flyers. After discovering that more than 10 per cent of their guests experience high levels of nervousness when travelling, VA decide to do something to help travellers enjoy flying as much as they do.
The airline has spent the past year designing a program to assist these flyers on their journey. The program provides information and tools for travellers in the lead-up to travel, reassuring interactions on the day of travel and steps to reduce unnecessary stress.
From 9 September 2019 passengers on any VA operated flight can identify themselves as a nervous traveller when their booking is made – either through their travel manager or directly online. Travel bookers can then have the special code ‘LOVE’ added to the booking to flag these travellers to the airline. A week before travelling VA will provide nervous travellers with useful and encouraging information to help alleviate common concerns. Travellers will also receive an SMS message from the airline on the day of their travel for additional reassurance.
Once on board the aircraft, the crew will keep an eye out for the nervous flyers and may touch base with them before or during the flight. The traveller can also access ‘Smiling Mind’ meditations on the VA Entertainment App along with some behind the scenes videos.
So if air travel for you is as anxiety inducing as performing on stage would be for your humble Stage and Screen travel manager, ask them to identify you for some extra TLC to make your next Virgin Australia flight as stress free as possible.
Naturally travellers need to consent to being identified as a nervous flyer and to disclosing their personal information and contact details. This program is for guests who are already flying and would benefit from some support, it is not designed for those unable to travel due to a fear of flying.