Friday, 25 January 2013

Which course? Your words not ours...

Below is a message that came onto our message board today... Delighted to read it.  We have never poked fun at other people who are 'out there' to help you to beat your fear of flying.  However, maybe it is time for us to speak up...

There are several sites out there that spend their time either ripping off our ideas or even our name!  We set up because we wanted to help people, normal people like you, to beat their fear of flying.  We ran the course for many years at a loss with the staff being paid by the founders out of their own pockets.  Luckily, we are able to run the courses and they can stand on their own. It wasn't always like that. 

It is frustrating when other companies are all supposedly here to help people to beat their fears of flying.

We just want to give people like you back choices that can be literally life changing.  This we see for thousands of people each year.  Despite the digs we get from other 'providers of help' there are humans behind the Virgin course that care about helping you.  And we take it very personally when we hear the comments that get back to us from other help providers. 

We think that the nervous public need proper, considered and caring help when they put their trust in us.  Anyway, enough of a rant but after 15 years of not poking at the competition, perhaps you will forgive us this one time?

Here is the thank you message from our boards...This is reproduced word for word and here is the link in case you wanted to see it...

If you’re undecided about whether you want to do a Flying without Fear course, or don’t know if you should choose to go with Virgin or BA, please read this! Having done both courses, I can reassure you Virgin is the way forward!

I’ve spent ages trying to type this review and kept deleting it, as nothing I wrote seemed enough to express my gratitude to everyone on the Virgin Team. Having also done the course with BA and coming away with a worse fear of flying, I was terrified what the day at Leeds Bradford would bring, but I need not have worried as the day was A-MA-ZING!

I have had a fear of flying for 11 years. A fear so bad, that my husband ended up in Spain on his own for his 40th birthday, and after 14 months of marriage we have still to take our honeymoon!
I have tried numerous therapies, NLP, EMDR, Hypnotherapy, CBT and acupuncture to name a few, plus diazepam. While each has helped a bit, nothing has ever got me on a plane in a composed state…..until now!
Sick of walking around with this black cloud over my head, I booked the Virgin Flying without Fear course as a last resort to conquer it.

The course was held at a hotel near to the airport, where we were greeted by Virgin Cabin Crew in their bright red uniform. At this point, the tears were in full flow and I gripped by husband’s hand like my life depended on it. Richard Conway instantly picked up on my anxiety and took it upon himself to make sure I calmed down enough to at least stay for the course.

As Richard walked me into the conference room, I heard him say to my husband “she will be a different person when you see her next”. I thought “yeah right!”
I was taken to meet the team who would be helping everyone there overcome their fear of flying. I was given a choice of where I wanted to sit, anything to make me feel comfortable, and placed next to a Team Leader (Sarah) so she could keep any eye on me.
Gill Harvey-Bush assisted me on a one-to-one basis and calmed me down – she truly is wonderful at what she does!
Sarah was so reassuring and gave great advice which really helped me to put things into perspective.

We started the day with some relaxation with Gill. This helped to put us all at ease so we could at least try to enjoy the day.
We discussed our fears and anxieties. Surprisingly, everyone’s fears were quite similar….at last I felt normal! Everyone there was in the same boat, and even though we did not know each other we instantly wanted to support each other.

Throughout the day, we covered the mechanics of the plane, how it stays up in the air, cabin safety and the training cabin crew have to go through every year. What was refreshing is that the approach was very informal. The group was asked questions and encouraged to get involved. My previous experience was being sat in a room with 100+ people being lectured for 6 hours about why flying is safe!
We had regular breaks with tea, coffee and biscuits thrown in. Lunch looked lovely, although I did not have the stomach for it! (I did have a small bite to eat Richard, honest!)

Later, Paul Tizzard talked to us about our fears and where they come from. The talk was light hearted but so true in so many ways. It certainly opened my eyes to the ways I’ve been thinking and how it was not helpful.
Gill then took time to go through relaxation with us. She gave us numerous tools and skills to deal with stress and anxiety. My personal favourites were the Eye Cues, elastic band to “snap” myself out of negative thoughts, and the positive thoughts. (I spent the transfer to the airport telling myself that I was excited about flying and could not wait to catch the flight!) She also gave us a little tip about how to deal with turbulence….the water definitely works!

Throughout the short transfer to Leeds Airport, check-in and waiting for the flight, Sarah was very reassuring and explained each step so nothing would surprise us.
I boarded the plane and was surprisingly calm....I even sat away from my normal comfort zone of an aisle seat at the front.
The flight was narrated throughout by Ralph, the Virgin Atlantic Pilot who had spoken to us earlier in the day.
On take off, instead of gripping my husband’s hand for dear life, I was relaxed and calm and dared to look out of the window. After a short trip of around 45 minutes, we were back on the tarmac....the first words out of my mouth were “I want to do it again!”

This by far has been the BEST flying experience of my life. I cannot put into words how thankful I am to everyone at Virgin who helped. At last, the black cloud has lifted and I have stopped worrying about flying. For the three nights after the course I could not sleep because I was so excited about going on a plane! Who ever thought something like that would be said by me?!

The level of service is so personal. Throughout the day, Richard maintained contact with my husband and updated him on how I was doing. Although there were many people in the room, we were all made to feel that our own individual fears were addressed.
My previous experience left me feeling like a number, that they just wanted bums on seats to reap a greater financial gain. There was nothing personal about the BA course, they certainly did not address the psychological side of things like Virgin did. I walked away from that course in tears, devastated that I got off the plane before it took off. (Not that I wanted to get on in the first place and felt forced to get on!) My fear was made worse.

This time with Virgin, I WANTED to get on the plane. I am so happy I succeeded and feel immense pride at what I and the rest of the group achieved.
The only thing I would change about the day is I wish they had taken a picture of me at the start of the day, just so I and other people could see the comparison. It is truly remarkable what Paul, Richard and the team do, something that can only be measured by the before and after! And Richard was right...I was a different person when my husband next saw me!

My only regret is not booking this course sooner. I could have saved myself thousands of pounds on holidays I’ve not been on, numerous therapies I’ve tried (not to mention the cost of the BA course!) This course has truly changed my life. All I can say, while it does not seem enough, from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
Take care,
Paul & Richard
Proudly the founders of Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear Programme
Founded November 1st 1997
Future Courses
Fear of flying group courses 2013: Birmingham 24th February; Gatwick 10th March; Children 10th March; Manchester 28th April; Newcastle 12th May; Edinburgh 19th May; Leeds Bradford 2nd June - All £255 including VAT
Developing Resilience Workshop – 13th May 2013 Gatwick area; Banish Stress Forever Workshop – 17th June 2013 Gatwick area.  Price. £125 including VAT & parking & refreshments

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