From early next year, Virgin passengers can discreetly identify themselves as a nervous flyer by ticking a box while booking their flight and will be assisted by the airline in a range of ways.
“Travelling is stressful, and I think it’s the lack of control people have about travelling,” said Virgin Australia’s public manager of operations Libby Armstrong. “If we can give back a bit of control, that will make all the difference.”
Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson also announced a new initiative in partnership with not-for-profit organisation, Smiling Mind, for passengers to cope with mid-flight nerves and panic attacks. Psychologists and educators behind the group have developed meditation programs now available on Virgin's in-flight entertainment to help all flyers practice mindfulness in the air.
Smiling Mind chief executive Addie Wootten said, “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. 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.”
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