Monday, 15 May 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog May 2017

A question that we get asked a lot by the media is, 'How many people actually fear flying?'

So, we have put together some data from various sources over the years. Plus, we will explore some very recent research around fear of flying too. 

How many people have a fear of flying?

1980. 1 in 4  adult Americans  (Dean & Whitaker. Boeing)
2001. 1 in 5 US. (Gallup)
2012.  30% of UK population (H.J. Guninski, Cranfield University)
2014.  US 1 in 3.  UK 1 in 4.  (YouGov)

In February 2017, YouGov (UK) ran a poll with aviophobes and this is what those people thought about flying.

57% of those with fear of flying, will still fly.  However, 81% of the nervous flyers would NOT consider a fear of flying course.  We guess that they fly but under duress?

26% believe the safest seat is an aisle seat
20% believe the safest seat is at the back of the aircraft
46% believe no part of the plane is safe!

When asked, who do they perceive is the safest airline...

38% said British Airways
24% said Virgin Atlantic
Whereas, only 5% thought Ryanair were the safest despite the airline having a faultless safety record. (It is perception because people believe lower prices = less safety)

Top 3 aspects of flying people are afraid of:

68% Technical failure
61% Turbulence
56% Bad weather while flying
Only 38% said terrorism.

Also, more people fear take off than landing. Why?  Landing = ALIVE!

We hope that you found these interesting?

Best wishes,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Course Dates

PREMIUM: Birmingham 28th May; Manchester 30th July
GROUND: Heathrow 25th June
Kids (6-12): Gatwick 8th July (New style course launched)

One of our flying without fear courses in action

Monday, 3 April 2017

Flying without fear blog 3rd April 2017

Welcome back.
Our YouTube Channel - Virginflyingwithoutfear

We have had a channel on YouTube a long time - we often forget it is there.  Sorry about that. Anyway, we had this really nice message today from someone that has found one of our videos extremely helpful to beat his fear of flying. Someone that we have never met, has been helped.  The video that Robin talks about below is 12 minutes long and it is on our site for you to watch too.

Subject: A note of gratitude
I want to ensure I commend the flying without fear video that Virgin Atlantic has put on you tube for the public viewing that is fantastic. I have always had a fear of flying and have had to travel for business and personal most recently for family urgencies. Flying has never been a pleasant experience for me because I was unaware off the functionality of a plane and the logistics of flying.

This video course has been an absolute blessing in conquering my fear of flying. I have had family urgencies and business trips that I have taken over the last several months. Before viewing the flying without fear video, I shied away from flying for five years and although not on a Virgin flight , I have flown on another domestic Carrier, I watch the flying without fear video before each flight of the 6 flights I have taken in the last 2 months. I am an environmental health and safety Manager and cannot THANK Virgin enough for providing the tools to help me gain knowledge, understanding the flight process and also understanding the plane mechanics. It has given me a renewed faith in the pilots and how safety for the passengers is at the forefront of each flight.

Thank you Virgin Atlantic!!! A top quality Airline carrier!! I look forward to my next flight on Virgin and it will be a " flying without fear" flight. Again, all I can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU! I appreciate what you do and the video presentation has been saved on my favorites and viewed each time I take a flight! You folks are top quality and am ever so grateful for the extended knowledge I have received, and have worked toward conquering the " fear of flying" Thank you so much, Robin Chaiken
I am okay with shorter flights now, but what do I do for longer flights?
Someone asked on the message board for any tips for longer flights... Their background was that they had attended our course and had flown many times, but never for more than 4 hours.  They asked us about taking a longer flight of 8 hours and what could he do to make it okay...This is what we advised in case you missed it. 
1. Take stuff to do
2. Buy your own water after security to keep hydrated and not be reliant on crew
3. Compartment your time. 11 hours is a long time just sitting there so plan your time to receive boredom. 1st 2 hours, eat. 2 hours film. Go for a walk. Sleep. Read. Another film. Rest again.
4. Make yourself comfortable.  Put on air vents, adjust your area to make it your own. Wear loose comfy clothing.
5. Go for a walk about or two during flight. Helps you feel less tired and lethargic.
6. Eat etc. in UK time's (or stay in your own time zone). So if you take late flight, don't eat extra meals as it can make you feel horrid!
7. Drink lots of water and very little alcohol.
A new question that has been added to our frequently asked questions:

What aircraft types do you use?

We use either Virgin branded aircraft or local trusted aviation partners to provide our specially chartered flight.  We know that the safety standards for anyone that flies in UK airspace are the same as mandated by the Civil Aviation Authority and Joint Aviation Authority. Therefore, we use the type of aircraft and airlines that you are most likely to fly with from your local airport.  We want you to know how safe all commercial aviation is in the developed world and for you to fly with ease from wherever you choose to fly. 

However, we were saddened to see recently that some of the companies that also run fear of flying courses are using the idea 'come onto our courses as we only use our own aircraft.'  We think this is misleading you as nervous flyers.  We are all here to help you beat your fear of flying - it is not solely about you flying with one airline only.    To get around the world, we all have to use and trust a variety of commercial airlines. 

The course we run is for Virgin.  We use Virgin aircraft if we can but we also use other great carriers such as Flybe, Jet 2, Germania and previously Monarch and BMI.  These are the type of aircraft that you are likely to fly from your local airport. These airlines safety standards are amazing too.  We all have to meet the same standards of safety.  Customer service is a different matter.  Airlines can save money by not including drinks, food and leg room can be quite different.  There are lots of ways for 'alleged low cost' airlines to save money but none of those are around safety.  In fact, a lot of airlines share engineering support, pilot training, facilities, commercial insight...

We think it is healthier for you to think of flying on any commercial aircraft as meeting the same safety standards - everything else is about customer service.  In commercial aviation, it is safety first for all of us.

Take care,
Paul & Richard
virgin atlantic flying without fear

Future Courses:
PREMIUM: Birmingham 28th May.

Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Leeds, Southampton - we are working on it

GROUND: Heathrow April 30th

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog March 2017

Recently, we were very lucky to be super busy with two sold out courses...

We have noticed, over the years, that no two courses ever run the same.  Even at the same location there are different people, different stories and occasionally some interesting challenges to deal with.

At Birmingham in February, we had some weather challenges. Nature decided that the people who joined us to beat their fears should also experience some strong winds!  We always say this when it comes to weather, safety first.  It is so strictly regulated in terms of cross winds and storms and birds even, it is either safe to take off or we stay where we are. Same applies to landing.  If an airport becomes unsuitable to land at, we might circle for a while or we might go somewhere else.  Every commercial airline that you will fly with, operate to the same standard.

At Birmingham it was gusty.  Not to the point of being unsafe to take off but the wind made its presence felt.  We think that this is a good thing to happen on a course like ours. As the pilot talks you through everything that is going on, it gives all of our previously nervous flyers a chance to understand what is actually going on as it happens. Very helpful.

This is the route we too took that day, for those that like that sort of thing!  (Thanks Chris Rolinson, Team Leader and former nervous flyer for sending it in)

Here is what one of our attendees said about the Birmingham experience on our message board:
What can I say about yesterday except a massive THANK YOU to everyone involved in helping my wife Sue overcome her fear of flying.

From the moment we registered where Richard sent us off with Lois then all through the day with Paul, Captain Gary, Dr Jo and John we were treated fantastically with Richard and Gary especially going out of their way to provide first class assistance.
The course itself was very comprehensive in it's topics and no one's questions were ignored with genuine and easy to understand answers given.

The flight itself whilst not the smoothest of flights had a running commentary from Captain Gary who explained every detail as we went along which was a massive help.
I really did not think Sue would even get on the plane tbh but with all the help and support given during the day she got on, stayed on and whilst initially scared soon became calmer and ended up enjoying the flight and the whole experience.
So again a big THANK YOU to everyone involved in helping Sue to overcome her fear of stop Australia to see her Dad.

From our Gatwick course:
I honestly don't know where to start. Attending the course yesterday was one of the best things I have every done. Driving to work this morning, I looked up at the sky and thought to myself "What a beautiful view I'd have if I was up there flying now" and then smiled... then I was shocked that I had that thought! Before, I would look up at the sky and think "I am so glad I'm down here!" To me, that sums up my experience.

I can only describe it as it feels like my mind has been reset and I am starting my flying experience all over again, with the power to train my mind to not fear flying.

Richard and Paul, you have created something so wonderful, and I will be forever grateful! Steve, the pilot, was fantastic! I have not laughed and learnt so much at the same time! Turbulence will always be "sexy" from now on in (if you've met Steve, you know what this means). The psychology section was extremely helpful and I have learnt so many strategies that I will use on and off of an aircraft! Dave and my team leader Justine, were so informative and helpful throughout the whole day and answered ALL of my questions with genuine care and attention.

Lastly, I would just like to sincerely thank everybody who was involved with the course yesterday! You have changed my life!

Hopefully see you up there one day!

P.S. Here I am, all smiles on the flight!

End of this month, we are running at Manchester fear of flying course or should I say, flying without fear...

Anyway, that is our last course for a couple of months and numbers are filling up nicely. The more people we meet, the more people we get the opportunity to help.

Take care
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Next course:

26th March 2017

28th May 2017


Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Flying Without Fear Blog 21st February 2017

What a cracking start to the year it has been!

It is unbelievable to think that our next two courses are already sold out.  This must mean that there are a lot of people out there that need help. We are so grateful that you are giving us a chance to help you.

Perceived Risk Vs Actual Risk

This is a key idea that we talk about on our courses.  Fear is a normal thing. A lot of people say to us, 'I have this irrational fear of flying.'

Whether it is rational or not is a matter of opinion.

Maybe you could consider being a bit kinder to yourself?  Fear is normal.  In fact, your brain has decided that the risk of harm that could come to you when flying is beyond acceptable. Therefore, you have a fear of it.

There is some logic to that.
How about this as an idea. Fear of flying would be completely rational and reasonable were it not based on an inaccurate perception of risk.  In other words, when you believe that something is not safe, it takes a while to be convinced otherwise. Just because you don't think it is safe to fly, does not make it so.  Commercial flying is extremely safe. We are so convinced of this that we do not let the thought 'dying means flying' even enter our heads.  If the chances of something happening to you when flying was 50:50 then fair enough, be scared. But we are talking a miniscule amount of a chance of anything untoward happening and we mean tiny, tiny!  Flying is not 100% safe, nothing is!  But it is not far off.

For example, a lot of us don't like turbulence but, we don't fear it.  We know it can cause us no harm if we have our seatbelts on. 

There you have it. You don't have to even like flying at all to know you are safe.  It is just a means of transport...
On the message board this week:

We attended the course in Manchester late 2015.  I was really scared of flying, and really needed to do something about it.

I thought the course was excellent and I was really surprised that normal people were there! (I was kind of expecting some strange flying phobia type weirdos!) every fear is discussed and everyone related to all the stuff that's spoken about.

I love the fact that a pilot takes the course and really was surprised how well trained the "trolley dolly's" were (it really is disrespectful to refer to the cabin crew as that because they REALLY DO train, train and re-train and get tested a lot!) There is a whole lot more to their job than serving you as much alcohol as you can get down your neck to calm the nerves!

Anyway, not long after the course, we flew to Singapore and I actually fell asleep on the plane! (was a first for me) and when we eventually hit turbulence - I took one glance at the bottle of water and fell asleep again! (if you go on the course, you will get this!)

Well, 18 months later and we are off to Texas in a few weeks and to be honest I'm actually looking forward to the flight! - kind of excited even! - we are also doing an internal flight too, and yes I'm looking forward to that as well! 

If your nervous about flying and reading this - YOU REALLY NEED TO GO ON THE COURSE! - its worth every penny...

Thanks so much everyone, I really do appreciate you helping me get over this phobia!
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Course Dates
PREMIUM: Birmingham Feb 26th FULL; Gatwick Mar 5th FULL; Manchester Mar 26th; Southampton tbc, Heathrow tbc.
GROUND: tbc.
CHILDREN: Gatwick Mar 5th

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Flying without fear blog 24th January 2017


'Have a safe flight...'

I took a couple of flights over Christmas and I never thought much of them. For those of us that run these courses, flying is somewhere on a scale between exciting or routine.  This is linked into the destination. It is always linked to the destination.  Before both flights, two completely different people said to me 'Have a safe flight...'

The first time it was said to me, I never paid any attention.  I just mumbled a thank you.  The second time it was said to me, I was ready for it.  I replied in a smart a**e manner, 'Why would you say that to me, is there any other kind of flight?!'

I hadn't noticed that this phrase that just 'rolled off their tongue,' in my mind, it was an anachronism.  It has never occurred to me to say this to someone else. When you have been running fear of flying courses for 20 years, it would never occur to you that they could be anything but safe.  Does that sound odd to you?  Be careful what you say to yourself...:)
Paul T

In the News

It has been quite a month for PR of late. We have been truly lucky to have been covered by Sky News and BBC Rip Off Britain. 

Kay Burley, Sky News, met Sully before the launch of that film starring Tom Hanks.  This was released just before Christmas.  The very next day, she joined us in one of our commercial simulators to see exactly what training pilots receive.  Captain JJ Burrows took the sim through its paces which you can see more of here.

Also, we were joined by the Rip Off Britain Holidays Team at one of Heathrow fear of flying courses. This was onboard our one of our gorgeous new 787 Dreamliners. See here for more.

Take care,
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear
Future Courses:
PREMIUM: Leeds February 5th; Birmingham February 26th; Gatwick March 5th; Manchester March 26th; Southampton tbc, Heathrow tbc.
GROUND: tbc.
CHILDREN: Gatwick March 5th.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Flying without fear Blog December 2016


The Media Part One
Over the years, the media have been very kind to us. From national newspapers, TV and Radio - we have had some brilliant coverage. We are so grateful.  The media can be 'tricky' for you though. Why?
The Colombian air crash is an example.  As soon as it occurred, there was a lot of speculation as to what happened.  We were bombarded with emails from worried people asking us what we thought was the cause.  Unlike the 'experts' on TV, we declined to answer.  We have our own theories of course. But these are just theories.  We will wait for the final official accident investigation report to be published and then we can comment.   The media role is to get the stories out quickly and as accurately that they can, based on what they know at the time.   Our role is to give you the facts we know to be absolutely true.  By the way, we have been doing it for nearly 20 years now! 
Some helpful tips for you:
  1. Remember commercial aircraft accidents and even incidents are extremely rare due to all the safety margins in place.
  2. Whatever happened to the Colombian aircraft will be released and learned from.  The commercial aviation industry will share lessons from this accident and that is across all carriers and pilots.
  3. If you can, don't watch the news footage of incidents like these. It doesn't help you and it certainly doesn't help those poor passengers being scrutinised by the media and its viewers.  If you watch things like this in such detail, you are literally burning images into your head. This is not helpful when you are trying to beat a fear of flying.
  4. You were not born with a fear of flying. It is learned. It is never too late to learn something new. 
  5. Beating a fear of flying is a process that goes at a different speed for everyone.
The Media Part Two
We have been in the news lately. Kay Burley interviewed Sully before the film release and then the next day, she joined us in one of our commercial simulators.  Guided by Captain JJ Burrows, she even had a go at flying.  Here is the link 
We will be on BBC 'Rip Off Britain' on Friday 6th January 2017, 0915 BBC  - Hopefully, in a good way!  They filmed one of our recent Heathrow fear of flying courses.
Thank you by email
I wanted to write to you to say a big thanks for what you have done for me. It sounds so cliché but the course undoubtedly changed my life.
I took the flying without fear course back in July 2013 at Gatwick. At the time I had not flown for over 4 years and the mere sight of a plane terrified me. It wasn't just the flight itself,  I was terrified for months in advance and basically it control my thinking from the moment I booked it until I landed on my return. At the time of the course I had just been approached about a job in New Zealand and I had no idea how I could possible get there let along take it.
Your course explained things so clearly. Being able to understand the mechanism of a plane and how it operates safely was so informative and subtle but ultimately brilliant. I remember feeling such at ease on the test flight without really realising what or how it had changed my thinking.
I am now writing to you more than 3 years after my course to say that on Sunday I will be taking my 53rd flight since the course! I have had the opportunity to explore more of Europe, Asia and Australasia and best of all I was able to take that job in Auckland and now have moved again to a new job in Sydney; all of which would have been impossible without your teams help.  Thank you so much for all your help.
Wishing you all a great break...

Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

Future Dates
PREMIUM: Leeds February 5th; Birmingham February 26th; Gatwick March 5th; Manchester March 26th; Southampton tbc. Heathrow tbc.
GROUND:  None booked at present
CHILDREN: Gatwick Mar 5th.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Fear of flying November 2016

Be careful who you talk to!

We have a saying on our courses which goes something like this, 'The most important person you ever talk to is yourself.'  We all talk to ourselves.  Anxious flyers also talk to themselves and what they say tends to fall into a category many call 'negative automatic thoughts.'  Normally, thoughts of doom.

Dr Russ Harris said in one of his books, 'our cautious ancestors lived longer'... 

So, rather than thinking to yourself, 'I MUST control or stop these negative automatic thoughts!'  Why not take Dr Russ Harris approach and learn to accept them for what they are.  Just thoughts, not facts. Thoughts that have kept humans alive for a long time by worrying about stuff.

As humans, we take a daily view on whether things are life threatening or not. Most things during our day are picked up by our watchful brain, but then dismissed before we have even consciously considered them. 

Why is flying different then?  Why does flying get special attention?

Our theory is that fear of flying is learned.  It is learned and practised until it becomes automatic.  We then give ourselves a really hard time by saying, 'I am so stupid having this fear. I am selfish having this fear...' 

Here is a simple way to look at this.
  • Fear has a purpose  and being cautious about things we don't understand has an evolutionary/survival role
  • Fear of flying is not something that we are born with - it is learned
  • Unlike other things we could worry about, the anxious flyer focusses on 'flying means dying.' They then practice this by thinking bad things about flying all the time. This causes a strong association in their brain so it gets easier and easier to get more scared with less and less effort
  • It is never too late to learn something new (See Peter's message below)
Messages from humans just like you!

I attended the Flying Without Fear course in Manchester yesterday and I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to all the team who were there to assist everybody with their fear of flight. I am very happy to say to anyone who is considering attending the course that at three weeks away from my 75th birthday, for the first time in my life I boarded a plane had a short flight. I had the time of my life, which I did not think I would do in so short a space of time, i.e. a one day course, and be able to overcome my problem, which I believe in the end to be purely fear of the unknown and being too stubborn to take it on. I would also like to thank the pilots on the plane for allowing me to step into the cockpit and have everything explained in detail to me - it was a wonderful moment. So for those of you out there who have fears, whatever they may be, just take a look at me at my age and don't waste your life not trying to overcome your fears. I can assure you that if you join the course you are in the hands of a great and very understanding team. I am looking forward to my next flight!
Peter Kershaw


Hi team,
Well I've been home a week! I managed it! I flew to Orlando.
First and foremost I'd like to say how impressed I was with the crew on the VS73 on 15th October.
As I boarded a lady named Bev looked at my boarding pass and told me where to sit. I explained I was frightened of flying and she said I was seated "in her section" and she'd come and see me. She came over a few mins later with a glass of prosecco. Rubbed my shoulder and carried on with her duties. Then an amazing steward called Simon told me that flying was his favourite part and not to worry. Bev came and collected the glass as we were taking off shortly. We were sat on row 27 so right next to the galley. Simon could not do enough for us throughout the whole flight. I actually enjoyed it. A few drinks and some delicious food and we were landing. Where did that 9 hours go?  I wish I could book Bev and Simon for all my future flights. They are an absolute credit to Virgin.

We had two amazing weeks in Florida.
On our return our party was all split up over the place but after a few tears at Disney Springs check in, the Virgin Atlantic staff sat me, my hubby and our daughter together in row 68.
I'm so glad they did as the turbulence was horrific. Seat belt light was on for the majority of the journey home. I just kept repeating in my head "it's not turbulence, it's just movement of air. It has the same properties of water except you can't see it" This really worked for me. I was actually reassuring my family that we weren't in danger.
Lovely landing at Manchester. Can't wait to go again.

Thank you so much. Pam x
Future Courses (our prices haven't changed for years!)

PREMIUM: Heathrow December 4th; Leeds February 5th; Birmingham February 26th; Gatwick March 5th; Southampton tbc.
CHILDREN: Heathrow Dec 4th; Gatwick Mar 5th.