Travel Tips

Fri, 12 Oct, 2018Danielle McCarthy

This airline has just introduced a new feature that will make flying less stressful

This airline has just introduced a new feature that will make flying less stressful

Naturally, one in seven passengers get nervous before stepping on a plane but now, a new program is offering people the support they need to beat the nerves.

From early next year, Virgin passengers will be able to identify themselves as a nervous traveller by ticking a box while booking their flight.

Those travellers will then be able to receive extra support to cope with their flight, including receiving information about easing anxiety, to having cabin crew drop by to check on them.

Virgin Australia’s public manager of operations Libby Armstrong said there was a range of ways travellers could be assisted with their individual fears.

Some people may want to know when the aircraft was last serviced, while others want to be assured that they wouldn’t be moved from their seat.

“Travelling is stressful, and I think it’s the lack of control people have about travelling,” she said.

“If we can give back a bit of control, that will make all the difference.”

A new initiative by Virgin Australia will also let nervous flyers receive extra support to cope with their stress mid-flight through meditation.

The airline has announced their new in-flight entertainment app with not-for-profit group Smiling Mind to ease flying nerves for passengers.

Smiling Mind has created meditation programs now available on Virgin Australia’s in-flight entertainment to fight flying anxiety and foster mindfulness in the air.

Ms Armstrong said: “Seven people on every single one of our Boeing 737s experience overwhelming levels of anxiety.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 8 to 10. That’s something like 2600 people every single day who are crippled by fear.

“We see it every day. Panic attacks … it can be that serious.”

Speaking to, clinical psychologist and Smiling Mind chief executive Addie Wootten said that sitting on a flight was the perfect opportunity to focus on mental wellbeing.

“Often people who are nervous flyers are fearful of what might happen — what if we hit turbulence, what if we don’t make it on time, what if something happens,” Dr Wootten said.

“Mindfulness is a practice that helps us learn to not worry so much. To notice those things are happening, but bring our minds back to what we’re doing right now.

“It will help them connect with their body, regulate their breathing and slow down the heart rate — which we know is accelerated when people are anxious — and then learn how to stop the thinking or the worrying.”

However, Dr Wootten believes the meditation app will benefit all travellers – whether they are feeling anxious or not.

“Often people talk about (a flight) being their one bit of downtime in the day, so if we can help them cultivate that mindfulness and hopefully end the flight feeling calmer than when they started, that’s a win for us,” she said.

Do you get nervous flying? Let us know in the comments below.