Leeds February 2017
I attended the fantastic Flying Without Fear course on Sunday 5th February in Leeds. Although nervous, I was looking forward to the course and conquering my fear of flying, until the night before, when I couldn’t sleep, and had decided I would attend the course but definitely not get on the flight at the end of the day! I lay awake reading all the testimonials people had written, which really really helped me.
I arrived the next morning, anxious but determined to be brave. As soon as I walked into the room, met the people in my group, and my fabulous team leader, Kyle Allchin, I felt safe, and instantly more at ease. The day was utterly brilliant – the course leaders were calming, funny and understanding. The talk from the incredibly talented pilot, Dave, really made the day for me – simply understanding the noises the plane makes, and the sensations you feel, put everything into perspective for me. I realise now how safe flying really is! The explanation of turbulence was great, and has really put my mind at rest.
The talk we were given by the lovely Karen about panic attacks and why we have them, what they are, and most importantly, how to deal with them, was invaluable – not just for a fear of flying, but for any situation which is stressful or makes you anxious. I was raring to get on the plane by the time the flight came. Once we were on, I actually enjoyed looking out for and identifying the different noises and sensations. The pilot talked us through the whole flight, which was so reassuring, and interesting, and Kyle explained so many noises to us, and took us for a walk around the plane, and even talked one chap through a near panic attack brilliantly – he was such a kind, caring, understanding and reassuring man, that I can’t praise him highly enough!
Part of the fear of flying for me was claustrophobia, and it had become so bad I couldn’t get in lifts on my own any more. Well, since the course I’ve been getting in lifts on my own several times a day, which may seem trifling to some people, but is a huge achievement for me. I feel braver, calmer and more in control, and it’s a wonderful feeling – like a huge weight has been lifted! On the flight, as we soared above the clouds in the sunshine (without swearing and gripping the armrest for dear life!) I truly appreciated how magical flying is, and how lucky I am to be able to do it, and now enjoy it! I also felt a bit daft, as I realised that nothing about aviation changed during the course of that day, but I did – I had built up all these ridiculous scenarios that I felt sure would happen every time I, or anyone I loved, set foot on a plane, and it was all nonsense. The course teachers literally changed the way I thought and felt, in just one day. One idea that particularly resonated with me, and has really stuck, is when Karen said our thoughts are only electrical impulses, and that just because we think something doesn’t mean it’s true (her example was, think to yourself, ‘I am a banana’ – just because you might say that to yourself doesn’t mean it’s true. I loved how daft that idea is, and it really made me realise how daft I was being).
I was becoming more and more scared of flying (and enclosed spaces) before I took this course, and there were some people there who’d not flown for over 20 years, or even at all in some cases, and this course helped us all. I have truly conquered my debilitating fear of flying, and just wish I had taken the course sooner. If you’re in any doubt – do it! It will change your life. A big big thank you to everyone involved in providing this course, and a huge congratulations to everyone who attended the course – we did it!!!!
Heathrow December 2016
I attended the December 2016 Flying Without Fear course at Heathrow airport and I just wanted to say a huge thank you to all of you. You are amazing!
My table was lead by Nicole Frimley and she was so understanding, never patronising and always courteous and attentive. Thank you Nicole!
All of the speakers on the day were informative, supportive and also very humorous! By the time we took the flight I felt completely relaxed and the whole thing was an absolute breeze.
I’d also like to thank everyone else who was on my table. Guys, we shared our stories and experiences, stressed together, worried together and we all took the flight together. And we did it! What a team – and I hope you all got as much out of the day as I did. Here is to the rest of our lives! Once again, thank you to everyone – whatever part you played during the day.
See you in the air! Ashley Varley
Manchester November 2016
Well today I met an extraordinary group of people. I had previously attended the Birmingham course back in July but ended up not taking the flight. So I booked on to the Manchester course and attended today, more nervous than the first time. I picked the nearest table to the door, and was glad I did. The people on this table were so supportive of me whilst dealing with their own fears and the team leader of the table ” Mark” was brilliant. He was so supportive and let me know I could have as little or as much support as I needed and once on the plane offered to sit next to me to give me the best care he could.
My other hero of the day was Karen the psycho therapist, what can I say other than thank you, you were brilliant. Karen got to the bottom of my anxiety and helped me control it throughout.
I took the flight and loved it, the moment I landed I wanted to go back up. Sticking with the group really helped me today and as Mark said we will get through this together and we did.
Thank you thank you thank you to the team at flying without fear, thank you to the team on my table “you know who you are” and thank you to captain Pete for his great talk and amazing commentary during the flight, but most of all thank you to Mark and Karen. Without you all I would still be on the ground.
Gatwick November 2016
A massive thank you to the whole flying without fear team on our course yesterday 6th Nov.
So friendly, so kind, so funny and so so helpful.
Captain Steve not only made it very clear that flying is simply no big deal, he is funny and pretty easy on the eye to
The psychology team were inspirational. Richard so lovely.
A massive shout out to Graham my team leader, you were attentive, informative and selfless ALL day.
This morning I have woken up without the dread of my upcoming trip to Vegas, for the first time in weeks. Thank you so so much
Birmingham July 2016
I went into the hotel conference room near Birmingham airport with little hope that I could be ‘cured’ from my fear of flying.
Oh how I was wrong!
The professionalism, caring nature and compassion shown by each and every member of the Virgin team was fantastic. They instantly put you at ease from the moment you walked into the room and selected your table for the day.
Early on there was a stat that came up on the screen suggesting that 98% of people feel that the course has helped them to erase their fear of flying. I was certain that they could not cure my fear of flying! But trust me, everyone in that room thought the same!
Mark, my Team Leader was on hand to answer any questions during the day, he was both caring and understanding and is a credit to Virgin.
I found the session with Ralph (Virgin Pilot) to be particularly important as I think that my fear had arisen from a complete lack of understanding, with my brain not being unable to identify the different feelings and noises whilst on a plane. Ralph explained the process of the flight, the flight safety, pilot training as well as answering lots and lots of questions from others in the room. With this new understanding of the different sections and noises of the flight, I was ready to take to the skies and beat my fear once and for all!
The flight was great and the nervousness that was previously feared was now gone as I had a greater understanding with the plane’s movements & noises and most importantly for me, no, the plane is not going to fall out of the sky!!
I must say that all of the airline team were fantastic & and so too were the Virgin staff during the flight. Mark, came over and spoke to every member of the group, answering questions during the flight.
Richard, Paul, Mark, Ralph, Simon and all of the Virgin staff, I would like to say a huge thank you for allowing me to gain a greater control over my anxiety and allowing me to fly in the future without hesitation.
So much so that I have booked to fly to Amsterdam next week and then Croatia in September!
All the best,
Heathrow July 2016
I am still feeling fantastic after yesterday’s FWF course at Heathrow!
This was my second time on the course -not because it didn’t work for me the first time, I just needed a top up from you as I haven’t been away for a few years and a few bad habits had sneaked back!!!
I knew you could help me again!!!
Well today I have woken up actually looking forward to my holiday, this means so much!
No more dreading the airport and flight experience.
Controlling my claustrophobia is amazing and able to turn that negative thought into a positive
(“is it a thought or a fact” really helped me!)
Thank you to you all at the course the organisation was fantastic, so much thought and effort has gone into this to help people like me.
I loved listening to everyone from the pilots to the psychological ways to think- thank you Karen!
I have a special mention for the wonderful Anna Peska.
You have been a fabulous team leader X
I can’t believe I haven’t mentioned the Dreamliner yet!!
Wow how lucky were we to have that wonderful experience
Best wishes to you all, Laura G
Manchester April 2016
Before I attended the course, I hadn’t been on an aeroplane for over 5 years. Even the thought of it made me scared. I am ashamed to say that I even let it affect some of my friendships as I used excuse after excuse to avoid travelling to see them simply because it would involve flying.
I have suffered from quite serious health issues over the past year and realised I have missed out on a lot of things in life, mainly due to my fear of flying. I decided to take some control back by trying to conquer my fear but honestly didn’t think anything would work. However, I was willing to give it a go and am very glad I did.
The explanation by Captain Pete of what happens during a flight, from take-off all the way through to landing, made a big difference. Understanding the different noises and sensations felt during flight made me realise that a large part of my fear was due to a lack of understanding about what was happening. As I didn’t understand, I jumped to the worst case scenario and decided something terrible was about to happen. However, the explanation about the angle of climb on take-off and how far the plane rolls to turn (not much apparently) put my fears to rest.
I was very surprised by the safety training undertaken by cabin crew as I really did think they were ‘just’ waiters in the sky. It made me feel reassured that they also check the plane in addition to other security checks.
The psychology sessions really helped me with techniques to relax, lower my heart rate and feel in control of my emotions. I used to get very panicked on flights (even at the airport) and this used to make everything worse. Explanations about the process of thoughts, feelings and behaviour helped me understand the cause of my fear. A very interesting part was about Catastrophising. It was clear from listening to other (very intelligent) people talking about their fear that they were Catastrophising and I realised that I did exactly the same thing. This realisation took away a lot of the fear as I realised just how far fetched some of my previous thoughts were even though they previously seemed so logical at the time.
The jovial atmosphere really helped me stay in the right frame of mind. Every person was taken seriously and all questions were thoroughly answered. There was a lot of laughter throughout the day, partly due to some genuinely funny moments but also due to the fear reducing and for some people, disappearing completely.
The moments before a flight are usually the most stressful for me but this time I felt a lot of more in control and never felt so confident. For the first time in around 10 years (and second time ever), I sat by the window. The flight itself was initially a bit stressful (I had to squeeze my stress ball quite a bit just to make sure the plane had sufficient lift to take off!) but I relaxed as it went on. At one point I even stopped squeezing the stress ball and hadn’t noticed. The best part of the flight was the commentary. When a noise or sensation occurred that would have previously scared me, I now understood that it was perfectly normal. I only wish commentary was available on every flight. It was probably the greatest source of comfort on the flight.
Although I am not ‘cured’, I feel more confident than ever about air travel and am planning to book a short flight (about an hour’s duration) to take place in the next few weeks to build up my confidence. I never would have even considered this before the course. In fact, I would be actively looking for an excuse not to go.
It was a fantastic day and the staff were incredible. My only regret is not taking this course sooner.
Thank you all so much. Manchester Lisa
Well after having a panic attack and not being able to get on a plane for over a year I was consumed with fear of flying! It was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced but I had no control over this fear. I have to travel for work which is hard enough but the thought of not being able to go on holiday again was too much for me, I NEEDED to beat this demon!!
For anyone wondering about doing the course DO IT! It has changed my life again, I’m not saying I’m 100% cured but I am now well equipped with all the correct information and techniques to get me through my future, the team and each and every person on the course did that for me, so much so that I flew the very next day to Sweden for work (very proudly) and am currently writing this post watching the sunrise over the sea.
This course will change my life…
I booked onto this course last year but due to health reasons had to cancel and had to cancel a holiday abroad that I’d booked also. So, more determined then ever I re-booked for this year and again have a holiday booked this summer. I had been looking forward to the course and had a positive attitude that I was going to be ‘cured’. A tall order maybe? After 17 years of no flying, things needed to change. I was fortunate to be on a table with lovely people that really made the day that more enjoyable. Sharing our stories, fears and resolution to fly was fantastic. Captain Pete explained everything in such detail and really emphasised how safe flying is that answered questions I had and many questions even I hadn’t thought of were all answered ( I think I could turn into a flying know it all!). Who knew that frozen chickens are catapulted into a new engine when they test it?! The relaxation techniques were fascinating and I have a tool box of techniques to try now.
The flight itself, well, I was absolutely fine going through the airport and fascinated and reassured by the increase in security measures and checking procedures compared to 17 years ago. Still fine boarding the plane and getting seated, in fact it felt like we were off on a holiday, everyone was chatting and laughing. Then take off came and the old fear returned like a thunderbolt – but – I forced myself to open my eyes, listened to Captain Pete explaining the sensations and noises, looked out of the window and as quickly as it came the fear left me. I enjoyed looking out the window, went for a wander and carried on having fun. Landing was fine, no fear and upon leaving the plane, I really would have liked to go up again.
So, in summary, yes I feel this course has changed my life, the course leaders were fantastic, supportive and funny and the ladies on my table were amazing. I hope you all go on enjoyable flying adventures after this and Emma (team leader) thank you too, you were great.
It is incredible to think that 1 day spent in the company of such a remarkable team of professionals can and has changed my future so profoundly…..Having not flown for almost 10 years, I was almost convinced that my mind could NOT be changed and that flying is a fools game !!! how wrong could I be…..The day was packed full of useful information, guiding us all gently through the whole experience…..we were given tips and tricks to help us manage our fears and allowed as much time as we needed to ask questions (and I did have a lot of questions!……so thank you Captain Peter for your honesty and patience !) The whole day just felt good…..excellent venue, knowledgeable professionals, lovely food for lunch and of course the flight….I cannot value enough Captain Peter’s commentary throughout the flight, explaining all the noises and bumps that occur and reassuring is all the plane was not falling apart. I wish Virgin offered special flights where this extra service was available, because for both myself and many of my team, this stood out as a particularly helpful part of the course…The cabin crew staff were also brilliant offering similar reassurances….but i imagine on a “normal” flight they are too busy for this. I can only say THANK YOU so many times , but I will still be thinking it EVERY time I fly from now on…Your whole team is doing a tremendous job and the course is worth every penny and more …THANK YOU Manchester team xxx
Just a big thank you to Paul, Richard & all the Virgin team at Flying without Fear at Manchester yesterday. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting in all fairness but I was both surprised and impressed on how informative the day was. I liked that our fears were taken seriously but also with a fun spin on them and put in such a way that made you get some perspective on my crazy thought process. I don’t think that I will ever LOVE flying but I feel like I can handle the flight and stop “catastrophising” now I have fact from fiction. The narrated flight with Captain Pete was just brilliant, all those noises explained what a relief to know the noises are for a good reason not because something is terribly wrong!! But the most rewarding part of my day was when I got home and my son said he was proud of me as he was the reason I done this as I don’t want my fears to be his. Thank you again
Absolutely worth the time, effort and money. Whilst you’re on a table with a leader (Paul was ours and brilliant, getting just the right pitch with whomever he spoke with) all the staff chat with you and by the time you’re on the flight you feel like old friends. I couldn’t believe I was on a flight and laughing out loud. All the staff made you feel welcome and nothing was too much, Paul the cabin crew chap even taking my contact details so he could source other bits of information for me.
Fun day (who’d have thought) and very informative. The flight itself is a must, to have a pilot go over every noise, feeling and sensation that you’re experiencing and would have, in the past, scared the living daylights out of you is well worth its weight in gold.
Gatwick November 2015
This is a fantastic course which I would recommend to anybody with a fear of flying (no matter what scale of fear) – it is really adaptable and the staff know how to deal with the differing levels of fear really well.
I came along to the course knowing that planes are the safest form of transport (but perhaps not fully believing it deep down), but it had never stopped me getting on a plane, I just hated every minute of flying and it would affect me up to a week before flying in terms of stomach churning and feeling nervous about it. I have never flown on my own and I usually sit in the middle or on an aisle holding onto the armrests for dear life and stare at the floor during take-off and being on edge and jumpy throughout the flight and I would definitely not look out of the window if I could help it.
At the end of the course I found myself on a plane without anybody I knew, sitting in a window seat, sitting relaxed and not holding onto the armrest and I actually found myself enjoying looking out the window and all the lights below! This was a complete transformation in my behaviour on a plane. The knowledge we learned really helps you to understand planes a lot more and feel safer and then the psychology and relaxation techniques really enabled me to relax and feel less anxious which allowed me to change my thoughts and behaviour during the flight. I thought the commentary from Captain Steve during the flight was fantastic – I just wish I could have that on every flight now!
I am off to Malaysia & Hong Kong in January and rather than dreading the long flights (which I was before), I am now looking forward to my holiday and not feeling stressed about the flights. I will have Captain Steve’s voice (and jokes) in my head throughout take-off from now on.
Thank you to the Flying Without Fear team.
Manchester November 2015
I’ve had a phobia of passenger planes for 10 years and hadn’t flown for 6 years. After years of counselling the next stage was to actually get on a plane, something I thought I would never, ever do again. I wasn’t sure if the course was a good idea, whether it would do me any good to be surrounded by similar passengers to myself, or whether it would be better to try and board a standard flight.
I can’t express how grateful I am! The whole experience gave me great comfort and reassurance, from the facts about flying, to coping mechanisms, and even simply knowing that others really DO feel the same as me, has helped me enormously. With the support of the whole team on Sunday I was able to get in the airport, board the plane… and stay on the plane, all panic free! Miracle!
I don’t think I will ever love flying, but I now know there is nothing to be afraid of and I will soon be booking my first short flight
I have so much to lose by not flying, and actually nothing to lose by flying. I can’t urge others enough to do this course – THANK YOU
Southampton June 2015
I just wanted to say a huge thank you to the Flying Without Fear team who within the space of 8 hours have given me confidence to fly again and if I’m being honest I have to admit that I really enjoyed the flight. I just cannot believe the transformation from being absolutely terrified and refusing to even contemplate going on holiday that involved a plane to wanting to actually go to the travel agents and book a flight to Mexico or America.
The day itself was wonderfully structured and very relaxing, a perfect Sunday really! The registration was very simple. Most of the team were around the area already willing to re-assure and answer any questions. Once registration was over you got to pick a table …. by this point I had already met a lovely person called Kate… who I got talking with and we spent most of the day together. Pete then joined us and gradually our table became complete. Our team leader was fantastic – David Gott and he was excellent in ensuring we were all ok and that all questions were answered. I loved Team Gott, the people on it varied from the absolutely terrified to people who would fly but struggled. Julie, Kate, Pete, Jack and Natalie were all great and enjoyed our time we spent together. Thanks for making it great!
I think what I struggled with when I was a nervous flyer was that I didn’t know how a plane flew, what all the noises were, what the different terminolgy meant, how a pilot would cope with an emergency etc so the talk from Ralph, our pilot, was amazing for me. For me, he wasn’t just “any pilot”, he knew alot but was also very patient and wanted to be there which really made the world of difference. He explained things to us which is bread and butter to him and answered many questions. Thank you Ralph. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to flying.
Richard and Paul were fantastic. They were funny, understanding and offered many, many ways to help manage your fear of flying. Nothing was too much trouble and the whole team were just as happy and smiling at the end of the day as they were the beginning.
The flight itself was great. We had Ralph on the flight deck giving a running commentary of what was happening, explaining the different noises and we did a few turns, slowed the engines down, revved them up which sounds scary but at the end of the day on the flight you can manage those things, they are not a big issue like they used to be. I enjoyed taking off, which used to be my worst part of flying.
I always told myself that flying was the safest form of transport but now I believe it 100%. The planes are built very well and are very reliable, the pilots are trained to a very high standard, they know what they are doing and they also know what to do in an emergency because they practice a lot – more practice than your doctor of dentist gets anyway! The cabin crew are more trained than you think and now I feel very safe in their hands.
I never ever thought I would say this in a million years but I really cannot wait to get back on a plane! Thank you everyone at the flying without fear team, the cabin crew on our flight, the staff at Southampton Airport and even the coach driver who took us to the Airport! Everyone was just amazing and would recommend it to anyone who ever worried a little about flying to someone petrified.
The best thing I have ever done.
Birmingham June 2015
Before today I hadn’t flown for over 5 years out of pure fear and anxiety, and before that it took a valium or two to get me on a plane, so forgive me for being sceptical about a one-day course being able to change a very deep rooted fear. Well how wrong was I! Not only was I able to get on the plane and without a valium pill in sight, but I also really enjoyed it and now can’t wait to get on my next flight and experience the world! This course really works and has helped release me from my crippling fear of flying. I couldn’t however have done it without the fantastic Virgin team and the many friends I made today who also shared the same fears. It was such a supportive group and a very special thanks to Paul, Richard and our wonderful team leader Rachel Hayley!! Thanks everyone! ️Xx
Before the course I had flown before but was getting worse each flight to the point where each flight became the last one. This was perhaps ok for me but I felt guilty that I was depriving my wife who said she could bare it but mainly my 3 eight year old children of the great adventure we will have as a family.
After the course of what was explained to me as a wave of emotions, high one minute low the next i.e. I want to get on a plane right now then in the blink of an eye I am sure flying is not for me. I felt Great, Confident and even wanted to fly again soon. Before I wrote my main post I wanted to sleep on the whole experience and see how I felt next day.
Well here we go, I have done a few courses in my life like this but they never worked in what only I can call a “lasting magical sense”
this morning I awoke and want to fly so I am in the process of booking a mini flight from Newcastle to Manchester and back to see if i can do it on my own without the team “who will of course be missed”
But as we all said on the course “SOD IT” Its not what we loose but what we gain.
Also no meds on course flight hopefully no meds ever again just lots of flights, with my family to nice places. If it continues to have this effect I will post again.
If you were to ask me what or how do they do it to you ? I would reply I still aren’t sure but I feel differently about flying Monday Morning than the worried wreck I was before the course Sunday morning. Best value for money I have ever spent in my 46 years on this Planet. Now I will hopefully be able to see some of it.
A mighty heartfelt Thankyou to Paul, Richard, Rachel and all the team.
Leeds May 2015
I attended the flying without fear course at Leeds Bradford on Sunday 15th May. It was the second time on the course as old thinking patterns were starting to return and I felt it would be advantageous to have a ‘top-up’.
I wondered if I would really benefit….. the answer was YES!
All of the team were approachable and answered our questions before the course started and throughout the day offering reassurance to everyone. Captain Dave and Cabin Crew Dave were superb in explaining how flight, planes, weather and inside the cabin all work.
Paul’s style in explaining the “Psycho-babble” was really fantastic and hit home how you can be convinced by the most ridiculous things.
I personally found the elastic band, paced breathing and tapping really helped me on the day but for others there were other techniques shown to you and allow you to find what will work for you.
I was sure I would get on the flight, as what an opportunity to have every noise, bump and action explained which I personally found a revelation. The approach taken that you can go to the airport and make a decision there, go to the plane and make a decision there, get in your seat and make a decision there is very re-assuring allowing you to make your mind up to fly right up to the last moment.
We were assured it was safe to fly throughout the day and my feelings on the plane were completely different to what I have experienced before. It felt NORMAL…. and the water technique was almost like a magic trick! Unbelievable!
The friendly and supportive nature of our Team Leader Janine and the relaxed Captain Dave really helped our little team feel ‘We can do this’
I sat next to 2 girls who had been on my table all day and together we reminded each other of the techniques we could use and supported each other when we were close to ‘moment’s of discomfort.’
I am so glad I did the flight I was amazed that there were other people who at the the beginning of the day were in doubt they would even get into the airport yet if you were sat at the back of the plane observing despite some odd tapping movements and the twangs of an elastic band you would see it as normal people taking a journey on a normal flight.
I am now looking forward to my next flight.
Thanks again to everyone who supported me and for the support from Paul, Richard, Janine and the team leaders. Cabin Crew Dave and Captain Dave.
Gatwick April 2015
There is a uniqueness about Virgin and Richard Branson.
Having read many of his books and applying his ideas and philosophies to my own life and business, my life has EXPOLDED into change!
But, I’m not perfect and have had a fear of flying for many years that seemed to have got progressively worse. I’m lucky enough to be going to Omaha this coming Thursday, and really wasn’t looking forward to, what will be the longest flight I’ve ever taken. I’ve put my trust into Richard Branson with my life and business, so when I found out Virgin do a Flying Without Fear course I felt in safe hands.
I attended yesterday, 26th April 2015, and was blown away!
The staff truly make this experience, and it was a pleasure to fly with them! I never thought I would have a pleasurable flight in my life. I couldn’t sleep last night, I’m just so happy that I’m armed with the knowledge and facts about flying, why I was fearful of flying, and how I can combat my fears with techniques and ideas that will help me beat my fear of flying 100%. All of the staff are pretty damn amazing. From the moment I arrived I was greeted by big smiles, polite gestures and a kindness you rarely find in areas such as this. These guys have been running the course since 1997 I believe, but you would never have guessed. It was delivered like it was their first project and we were all treated like their first course takers, and not like you would imagine to be treated especially some 40,000+ guests down the line. The entire day is superbly structured, with plenty of breaks for snacks, drinks and of course lunch.
Kev was our group leader for the day. A lovely guy, very patient, and kind. Ralph our pilot explained everything we needed to know about the process of flying and the aircraft itself. The Q&A was brilliant, and I felt everyone got their questions answered, no matter how bizarre. Paul and Richard are my true Heros of the day. Their delivery is astonishing! I’ve sat in a board rooms and training facilities that I have struggled to stay awake for at times…NOT the case here. Paul and Richard were entertaining, humorous, clearly spoken, whilst remaining serious and focused all day long. Paul, I would love to be like one day. His ability to help us all overcome our dreaded fears is something to behold!
There were many people there who were in bits with their fear of flying. It actually bought us as guests all together I felt which culminated into euthoria when we touched down. I met some fantastic guests and some of the most spectacularly professional staff I’ve come across. Sir Richard really practises what he preaches. His staff/partners act and do exactly what I’ve read his advice on in his books and on his online videos.
My hero just went up to a new level yesterday! I would like to accompany the courses voluntarily to help the guys and girls deliver the message that we can all be cured of our fear of flying.
If my small business can help you, your family or friends in the future then please do not hesitate to get in contact. (I cheekily gave out a few business cards at the end) I cannot thank you guys enough.
My life just got a who lot more exciting!
Warm wishes to you all at the at the Virgin Flying Without Fear course.
Manchester April 2015
We just wanted to thank everyone for an amazing course. After suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for the last 12 years I wasn’t sure if this was going to cure my fear of flying but I was determined to try. The course was extremely informative, whilst being kept light hearted and fun. Knowing that there were other people just like me, put me at ease and made me feel less of a ‘freak’. Also knowing that the cabin crew are trained to help people with anxiety and panic attacks really made me feel safe. This has really opened up the world to me and I can finally have what I have been missing out on for so long….a holiday abroad.
In just a week since attending this course, we have booked a trip to Ireland and a holiday to Benidorm for later in the year.
My wife is now getting the holiday she deserves.
Thank you so much guys.
Birmingham March 2015
I had such an amazing day yesterday. After not flying for 28 years I managed to cope well with the flight (including the lightening!) and felt so much better than I expected to. All the talks were so helpful and I just wish I could have a commentary on every flight in the future! Adam our group leader was wonderful and so calm and helpful. Most of all I want to thank all the others in the group I was with. Everyone was so friendly and supportive that I couldn’t have done it without you all. It felt sad saying goodbye to you all. I have a holiday booked to Rome in 4 weeks.
Leeds January 2015
I attended the flying without fear course yesterday 11th Jan at Leeds airport.
I just wanted to say what a fantastic course this was and I am so happy I attended.
The whole day was so well structured and very informative. I want to give a big thank you to all people involved – Richard for being so welcoming and putting everyone at ease, Paul for giving us some great techniques for helping manage and control our fear and for making us laugh, Zoe our team leader for being so kind and caring and last but by no means least – Pete our pilot who was so understanding and explained everything so well – love him!
I can’t say enough about how amazing you all were – so friendly, helpful and caring.
I am now very positive about flying and actually looking forward to a flight to Paris in a few weeks. That is a big statement for me as someone who would cry uncontrollably and shake with fear and have very negative thoughts about flying.
If this sounds like you, get on this course now – it’s the best thing you will ever do.
Thank you again to Richard, Paul, Pete and Zoe. I will remember you forever.
Southampton December 2014
What can I say?!!! Absolutely bloody brilliant! I got home about 2 hours ago from the course and am still buzzing from this achievement. Thank you so much to all of you!
I’ve been terrified of flying since I was 12…I’m now 47 and I can honestly say this has been the most debilitating and frustrating phobia for me and having tried various things over the years to try and conquer my fear, this has been the most effective by a country mile and the best money I’ve ever spent!
Your pilot Ralph just made so much sense and really did put everything into perspective. He explained so much and answered every single ‘what if’ and ‘disaster’ scenario a bunch of aero-phobics could dream up with such logic…it just made perfect sense and consequently eased any anxieties straight away. This is a MASSIVE help.
Pauls understanding yet humorous approach (my life…he had us in stitches at times!! In fact…Ade Edmonson comes to mind!) is simply perfect. He equips you with various coping techniques and somehow manages to teach you how to change your mind set from a negative to a positive. I can’t explain it but trust me…it was very effective.
Richards empathy, having been terrified of flying himself years ago, goes a long way to easing our own fears and he is proof in the pudding that we CAN overcome it!
Karen our team leader, was fantastic and did a great job of putting us at ease throughout the flight. She was so easy to talk to as were the whole team. Nothing was too much trouble.
I simply cannot do justice to the course in such a short space but suffice to say…I’m so glad I did it and am now actually looking forward to my holiday in February.
Thankyou so, so much once again to all the team. Wish I could do it again!!
To anyone considering this course…think no more, book it. It really is superb. There’s absolutely no pressure and I promise you…it WILL help!
Gatwick November 2014
Dear FWF team
Did the course today. Really great. Especially the talk from Adelle explaining in simple turns how planes fly. This for me, I have now realised, was the key to my fear- a lack of understanding about what was happening. My new mantra is “turbulence is bloody annoying but I am safe”.
Actually quite enjoyed the flight as I knew what all the noises etc. meant.
Great to be sat in small groups and hearing from others also.
Paced at the right speed/level and spot on with the amount of humour.
Almost considering a career switch from doctor to pilot-industry definitely needs more women!
I’m off to Oz on Dec 10th. 24 hours ago I was thinking/worrying about the flight but now I am fully focussed on the holiday itself.
Thank you! Hannah
Manchester November 2014
I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the course yesterday. I have flown before but never without anxiety which was getting worse, to the point were I was having panic attacks getting on to the plane. Then I just started making excuses why I was not going to book a flight. I would cruise, drive or take the train.
Now I feel free, liberated, I CAN FLY. I started the day believing I was one of the few unable to be changed, I would always have this fear. Even as we were leaving to go to the airport I was nervous. I was twanging and tapping all over the place. But I got on the plane. Everything I had learnt that day fell into place.
The support on the plane was amazing. The commentary from the pilot was so reassuring and the support from the onboard and virgin staff was fantastic. I didn’t want the flight to end and when I landed I wanted to go straight back up.
I listened to the CD and will do so for the next two weeks its very relaxing. I can’t wait to book my next flight, Chicago here I come. Thank you, Thank you Thank you
Birmingham October 2014
Yesterday, I attended the Birmingham course and my goodness, it was amazing! I met so many wonderful people with a whole range of fears and stories to tell, the best of all being our fabulous team leader, Chris, who had previously sat where we were and is now a self-confessed habitual flyer! No better proof really.
The day wasn’t without it’s ups and downs (no pun intended) but when the moment of truth came, I felt completely different from usual. Taking off used to be my worst moment, closely followed by the levelling out after the climb, that for me gave me that awful sensation that the engines have died and the plane is dipping down. My husband has had nail marks on his hand from my tight grip, a soggy shoulder from the tears and I’d be turning the air blue with multiple expletives.
But not this time. Armed with Captain Pete’s technical explanation, Dr Jo’s and Paul’s very easy to apply coping strategies, David’s de-mystification of the ‘bing-bongs’ (no they’re not a coded message of danger to the cabin crew), Richard’s infectious positive energy and confidence and our very own team leader’s continual support plus top tips for how to sit better in the seat, I was fine. In fact, more than fine. I have to confess that a small part of me actually enjoyed it.
In short, I can’t recommend this course highly enough. I was made to feel completely normal, personally supported throughout, met a lovely lady who became my flying companion which also really helped (thank you Mrs E!) and have come away with a whole world – quite literally – of new opportunity and techniques that aren’t just for dealing with flying but are for life.
Thank you so much Virgin team and in particular, Chris, once I get home from work tonight, I shall be booking a trip for a few weeks time as I can’t wait to do it again!
Gatwick July 2014
Thank you Richard & Paul, and all the Virgin team for the most fantastic day on Sunday!! You are all an inspiration! A very special thank you to Paul our team leader too, he was fantastic and put me at ease from the second I sat down.
I have been looking at booking this course for years, all I can say now is I wish I had done this years and years ago to save myself all the upset, stress and anxiety that used to occur anytime I went on a flight. It would always ruin the holiday for me and my husband, and I could never look forward to going anywhere.
I was nervous going on Sunday, and thought as did many others, that I was alone in my fear, and that no one else really understood what I felt and they just wouldn’t be able to help me. However, I approached it with a positive attitude, as I needed this to change, I couldn’t go on like this and it was getting worse.
By the time we stopped for our first tea break of the day, I honestly knew it was the best thing I have ever done, just listening to Adele made me realise how much unnecessary stress and upset I put myself through, and I knew the day was only going to get better as we had so much more to learn about and talk through.
I would not change any aspect of the day, I thought the whole course and every element of it was fantastic, the team know just how to relate to your fears and they understand them. The humour in the day also really helped, and turned everyone’s nerves into laughter. The flight at the end of the day was the icing on the cake for me, it was a chance to practise everything we had learnt that day, and I didn’t realise how helpful it would be before hand, but it was brilliant. It was also lovely to see so many people just like me, laughing and smiling in a plane!!!! Well done to everyone who took part on Sunday!!!
I would honestly urge anyone thinking of doing to course to just book it!!!!! I thought about it for years, and the only regret I have now is not doing this so much earlier. Just do it!! Face your fear and you will be so proud of yourself at the end of the day!
Thank you all so much. I will be thinking of you on my flight to Australia next month!!!!!! Kelly
Southampton June 2014
What a course!!!
My sister in law, Zanna has built her fear of flying up year after year of going on holiday and it was about time for her to take charge of her fear, I didn’t like flying but just went quiet during flights and froze to the seat, so the pair of us thought that this was definitely the course for us. From start to finish we were welcomed, supported, became part of a small group who all supported each other but most importantly throughout the day we were given the tools to help us take charge of our fear. Paul our team leader was amazing, Richard on the flight was a great help, and I hope one day Ralph will be our pilot, he filled us with so much knowledge about the aircraft, well done to everyone that got on the plane, and if your reading this and thinking about doing the course, book it, even if your going on your own, you’ve no need to worry , you won’t be on your own for long as everyone will be there for you each step of the way . Here’s to 2 weeks in Majorca in July )))))
Birmingham June 2014
Dear Virgin team,
I attended the course in Birmingham on Sunday; beforehand I was nervous: Surely a one day course can’t undo 20 years of nerves (even driving past an airport would give me butterflies)
Well, from the moment I arrived I was made to feel welcome and understood; No, I’m not alone in my fear, and yes, there are people that understand – really understand…thus I felt at ease from the opening moments. The course was light-hearted whilst very informative, relaxed and humorous.
All the staff, have time to answer individual questions with honesty and without being patronising. That’s important, as a professional person, and there were many on the course, we were treated as such, in fact the demographic of people attending was very wide, and thus enriched the day.
Throughout the whole day, never once was there pressure to board the plane to put into practice what we had been taught.
I got onto the plane, and you know what? It was fine, nothing happened – the plane stayed up without me holding on tightly! In fact, I’d even say I enjoyed it. In six weeks I fly again – now all I’m thinking about is my first iced tea on the beach – not how we, as a family, are getting there…That’s a huge leap forward for me, and it’s thanks to the Virgin staff.
If I could ever volunteer to help in the future – to tell others they are not alone, I would not hesitate. Do not allow a fear of flying to ruin another family holiday. Book a course! If I can do it – anyone can.
Warmest wishes to you all.
Manchester April 2014
Hi Richard, Paul and the rest of the team (Too many to list)
I really thought I was on my own with my fear of flying as every flight I went on nobody else would look around in panic at any noise, clicking a pen so many times to distract you from the bumps or just crying in fear. It got to a point that I thought I needed to do something about it. My husband loves flying and I felt I was ruining the holiday feeling; by panicking the night before a flight (sometimes a week before) and all the way to the airport – something needed to be done.
I wish I had booked this sooner! From the moment I arrived at the Hotel I was a bag of nerves and a crying wreck – Richard was doing his rounds of the queue to explain it wouldn’t be too long a wait. He immediately noticed something was wrong with me and reassured me everything would be okay and put my nerves at ease. He really helped me to calm down and just chill out before the course began. This was a good start to my long day. I really was surprised at how many people had the same fear as me (past tense – had.)
I really enjoyed the professionalism of the captain and cabin crew talk – they really explained everything well and told you in a way that was simple to understand. I had been told some of these facts before but it really helped being told by somebody who does this job day in day out.
The information given to you really prepares you for the flight after lunch and it’s such a big help to go on the flight.
We were then in for a fun afternoon – even though I did keep looking at my watch thinking oh no the flight is soon I soon forgot about that with all the fun. We were taught lots of different techniques to use on the flight and the elastic band (twang) and the breathing technique really helped me. I loved that Paul was able to hit the nail on the head with our fears – looking for signs, symptoms etc… but he was really funny and made me forget about everything.
Then we had the flight – so worth it, I think it really is the icing on the cake. I liked sitting with those on our table and our team leader Emma as we all looked out for each other and supporting one another to conquer it. I never have sat on the window seat, but I did this time and I looked out of the window the whole way. I enjoyed looking out at the views of Isle of Man on a lovely summers day. Our captain Dave really was clear with what each bump was and each noise.
This course is worth every penny and if you have that fear – remember you are not on your own and the Virgin course are really helpful! I have a flight booked in August, but am looking to book another for May bank holiday weekend
Thanks once again, Lisa H
I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all of the team on the Virgin Flying without Fear Course. I cannot tell you how much this one day has changed my life. It had been been years since I’d flown having decided that the whole stress of the weeks running up to a flight and then being unable to enjoy the holiday for fear of coming home was just not worth it. I’d tried valium, alcohol, valium + alcohol (!) nothing worked! Stopping flying meant that holidays with my children involved very long drives….
When I arrived on the morning of the course my fear of flying was easily around about the 8/10 mark, when I left it was a maximum of 3/10. I found the flight at the end was essential in enabling me to put into practice all the things that I had learned during the day, and to my surprise I found it just a bit, well, boring… I never thought that you would hear me say that!
The day was extremely well organised and there was something for every type of frightened flyer. For me, the technical sessions were what really helped. I was able to challenge all of my concerns with logic and science. The relaxation tips were great too, and while some were a little left field for my brain, I know that many others found them useful.
I felt entirely supported throughout, never once felt weird or ashamed for having had the fear (note, past tense!). I am flying on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it! Truly life changing.
Thanks again. Angela
Gatwick March 2014
Thank you for such a fantastic day, especially to our team leader Marie who was such a calming influence on everyone at our table. Her flying anecdotes would make a good book! I would say dysfunctional table but as Howard said at the beginning of his talk that we are all perfectly normal but just a little more effective at recognising our emotions – bless him! The whole day was informative and was aimed brilliantly at reducing our own individual anxieties – so much was covered that I don’t think that any aspect of anxiety about flying was missed – technical information, cabin crew’s many abilities – not just the giving the choices of chicken beef or fish (!) and of course some brilliant techniques at reducing anxiety and re-programming our brains. Everyone was so supportive and, dare I say it, it was a really fun day!
When it came to the flight, the whole team were on board to help calm any fears. Howard did a sterling job at persuading one very anxious attendee to stay on the flight and the tears of distress soon turned to tears of joy – what a lovely sight!
If you are thinking about booking this course, please please do it. You will not regret it. Even, at the end of the day, you do not feel you can fly, you take away so much useful information and so many useful techniques for reducing anxiety that your day will not be wasted. Lynn
Thank you so much for such a wonderful day. Home now, exhausted and exhilarated, from the day. The session were incredibly informative and the relaxation techniques really did work! I never thought that I could feel so calm on a plane. It was very comforting to have such a wonderful sense of camaraderie getting on the plane and the whole day was surprisingly fun and as well as supportive. I am really looking forward to my flight to New York in May. Thank you again to all the presenters, the fabulous pilot Adelle, the very funny, mindset altering Howard, Much more than chicken or beef Dave, Richard and Paul and our very calming Team Leader Mike. And to all the lovely people I met!
If you are dithering about doing this course, just do it! I’m just sorry I didn’t do it sooner. Fiona
Birmingham March 2014
Just wanted to say a HUGE thank you to all of the Virgin Fear of Flying team.
I was a little sceptical before the course, thinking nothing would get me over my fear. How wrong I was – after listening to the pilot, crew, psychologist and team leaders by the time we got to the airport i was actually excited about getting on that plane!! The coping techniques provided by the psychologist worked! Especially the ‘centre of gravity’ for me.
I can actually get excited about my honeymoon to America in September – cant wait and I’m going to book another weekend away (on a plane!) before then. Just because I can!!!!!
THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brooksy
Thank you for a fantastic day, I had a very frightening experience a few years ago and haven’t been able to fly. Everybody was very understanding and couldn’t do enough to help me, my team leader was Karen Dinmore, she was there all day to reassure me and hold my hand when I need it. They gave me the tools and the courage to walk on the plane at the end of the day without fear. I would recommend this everyone. IT WORKS
Luton January 2014
Just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone at the course at Luton 19 Jan! Our group leader Karen and everyone else were fantastic. I was a regular but very, very nervous flier and I hoped this course would help me – and I can honestly say it exceeded my expectations. Dave the Pilot’s talk was very reassuring and informative, and Howard gave us some useful tips how to change the way we think etc. And the flight in the evening was great! I was completely calm and relaxed while waiting for the flight at the airport and during the flight itself – I can’t describe what a relief it was not feeling nervous! The running commentary during the flight was absolutely brilliant – I wish they did that on all flights!! The only disappointment was that there was no turbulence (I can’t believe I just wrote that!), as it would have been interesting to see how I would have reacted to that – but I honestly think I would have been fine. (I was really nervous before coming to the course, as I knew the flight would take place in darkness – which for me has always been a lot worse than flying in daylight – but actually the fact that it was dark didn’t bother me at all!) The real test will be my next flight, to Norway in 6 weeks’ time – I hope I can remember and bring back all the positive feelings then, even if I haven’t got the fantastic Virgin team with me! (My suspicious mind is convinced that Howard must have hypnotised us before we got on the flight – how else could I have felt so utterly calm and relaxed about something that normally terrifies me? Whatever he did – I just hope the effect of it never wears off, even it means having that irritating Benny Hill-music in my head every time I fly!)
Well I can officially say yesterday was the day my life changed forever. Having never flown , the mere sight of a plane made the panic set in. Airports were a definitely no go even to collect loved ones….. I would be a blubbering wreak. The hardest part was booking the course myself, no longer could I make excuses. I have to say the journey from Leicester to Luton was a long and daunting one, I kept getting slower !!!! But I did it and nervously walked in and registered.
I immediately felt at ease as soon as I realised EVERYONE else was as nervous as me. The course was fun and informative. But the biggest credit to the fear of flying course is their amazing team. They all make you feel so at ease. David the pilot was very open and honest, with everything. Howard gave us a wide variety of techniques to cope with our feelings and also helped us to understand why we get so anxious. Our team leaders helped hold us all together in our little teams. Our team leader David Gott was great, he was excited as I was a non flyer (he said I bet you will love it ?!?!?, that I was one of the easier ones !!!! , I didn’t believe him!) he explained all the airport parts to me as I had never got that far before. Throughout the day I couldn’t believe how relaxed I felt, even sat looking out of the window watching our plane preparing . And so we finally boarded the plane, and I started to feel something new ……excitement !!!
The next thing I knew we were airborne , I looked out the window and OMG I saw what I had been missing all these years.
David Gott, your were right, I did love it, every second of it, in fact I would have done it again today if I could !!
I even got up and had a walk about!!!
I want to say a massive thank you to the virgin flying without fear team, but especially to David Gott, who believed in me . Also a massive thank you to our team, I am so proud of you all , we all DID IT !!! You were all a huge help to me x
I am sat here drinking my pink bubbly about to look at honeymoon destinations and that’s thanks to you guys …… They WORLD is my oyster !!! Xx CAT
Thank you to the whole team who helped to make the day so amazing! I had such fun and could not believe that when it came to the “actual flight” I was excited rather than terrified! Thanks especially to Captain Dave and to Howard – your techniques have certainly given me lots of options for helping me to take control of my feelings about flying. I too am feeling “strong like bull” now and will never leave the ground again without my trusty elastic band!
Thanks too to David Gott and the ” team of 10″ on our table….well done to all of us for taking that flight!
Anyone out there who is thinking about this course….DO IT!
I am looking forward to flying with Virgin to Miami in April! JULES
Gatwick November 2013
Yesterday I flew for the first time in 10 years. Thank you so much to all the team and to Lucy and the other volunteers who gave up their time to help us. Its a great course and totally worth the money. I’m looking forward to building on the experience over the coming months using some of Howard’s techniques. Nigel
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone involved today. I came to the course telling myself there was no way I could get on that plane and I did! Marie and the other passengers in my group, I cannot thank you enough for all of your support. You all helped me so so much and I’m already thinking about where in the world i want to jet off too. Well worth every penny xxxx Roxanne
I can’t believe how it has worked.
If you asked this morning “would you be ok to fly” I would of replied no, I got very worried about flying, normally I would want to get off the plane, after the course I was excited to get on the plane to succeed my goal, it’s changed my life, I can wait for New York in feb, its a massive thank you to everyone today and a big thank you to Karen Dinmore(Table team leader) . Anyone who want to do it, don’t delay do it today. Money well spent. Phil
Manchester November 2013
Hi everyone. Did the course yesterday, after saying 4 years ago “I’m never getting on a plane again “I’m Paul, I’m 26 from North Wales. Over the years, I’ve flown 25+ times, my Dad is even a Pilot! But for some reason I developed a fear of flying for no apparent reason. Like most, I’d read this page and the various messages etc., but because I’m the one with the fear, deep down I knew I’d never book it, and I’d accidentally on purpose forgot the course existed! Back in July, I opened my Birthday card to find my Mum and Dad had booked the course for me, which at the time I thought was the worst present ever! For the next few months I dreaded the day it arrived, but I was determined to fly again! Anyway, that day did arrive, I think I was the first person to arrive. The first person I met was a very smartly dressed chap called Peter Higgins, he turned out later to be my team leader. From the moment I met him I felt so relaxed, he took me under his wing (pardon the pun!) and made me feel like the whole day was just for me. I could not have met a nicer chap and can honestly say if it wasn’t for Peter, I would not have got on the plane!
The course was very thorough, all three sections were fascinating, interesting and at times very witty and funny! There was also plenty to eat and drink throughout the day. The best thing about this course is that everyone is in the same boat (or is that plane?) and I can’t even begin to explain what a help that is for people to share their experiences and personnel fears amongst each other. Finding common ground with others similar to yourself really boosted my confidence.
When it came to the flight, well the nerves kicked in a bit, but again, talking to the other people in our group, we all felt the same and we supported each other, the encouragement was a huge help. I did get on the plane, but didn’t want to sit down. I told Peter “Think I’m going to get off now Peter!” but he and the others convinced me to stay on and sit down. I can safely say that I managed the flight a lot better than I thought I would. I didn’t panic at all, but I did hold the back of the seat for most of the flight! I spent the entire journey looking out the window, for me my fear is the fear of dropping and that negative G tickle tummy feeling that comes with it. Looking out the window helps my brain tell the rest of my body we are not actually dropping. Landing was very smooth too, I quite enjoyed it!
So do I consider the course a success? Lets look back at the top of this page, 4 years ago I vowed never to get on a plane again, a few hours later I was on a plane, now that’s success! Can’t say my fear is cured, I still dislike flying, but as mentioned the fear is that dropping feeling for me, which happens on a flight, it’s not so much the flying itself that bothers me. Having said that, I am going to say that I WILL definitely fly again!
Given that there were almost 100 people on the course that day, and only 2 didn’t fly (both of which just happened to be in my group!) I would say do it! No body forces you on a plane at the end, so even if you don’t fly, I guarantee you’ll still benefit somehow from the course. You’ve got so much to gain from this course and so little to loose, take my advice and do it or get someone else to do it for you, it’s more than worth it!
Thanks again to all involved, but especially Peter Higgins,
Thank you so much for the course today. Almost 30years since I flew and never thought I’d be able to get on a plane again but I have and I now know it won’t be the last time! The staff were wonderful. Hayley Walpole is a complete star; she was so welcoming, calm, caring and nothing was too much trouble for her. The talk from Adelle, the pilot, was comprehensive and clear and invaluable in explaining everything that happens before take off and during the flight. The flight itself was a momentous one for me. I never thought I’d even be able to set foot on a plane again! I’m not going to lie and say I’m cured of my fear of flying but my god I am nowhere near as bad as I was before the course. The elastic band trick certainly worked …although it’ll take a few days for the bruises to go down! So thank you again and to anyone
reading this who is unsure about clicking on that ‘book now’ button …just go for it – it really will change your life; such a cliché I know but for once it is actually true!!
All the best,
Birmingham October 2013
Hi Paul (and Team, Ralf, Austin and Howard etc.)My fear of flying was a level 9 (out of 10) and it’s now at least a 5. I would describe a fear level of 9 out of 10 similar to what having a gun pointed at your head might feel like, so my level of fear was very very extreme to say the least! I managed to get to the plane (we were all waiting outside). The steps were waiting and I started backing away and going AWOL. Paul spotted me and asked if I was OK (I wasn’t really!). He helped me get on the plane and from there sat next to me and reminded me about all the techniques that worked for me, and he helped me refocus on those rather than the fear itself, and moved my focus away from my extreme levels of fear! Thanks for being so patient Paul, truly amazing Ralf (the pilot helping on the course) really helped me overcome my fears that were due to the technical aspects of flying. Knowing that there are lots of fail safes for every critical part of the plane was so liberating for me (e.g. 4 engines, 2 auto pilots, 2 pilots etc.). The most effective techniques for me were CBT (becoming aware of unhelpful automatic thoughts, and challenging them in a compassionate way), mindfulness (focusing on the present moment in a non-judgemental way – this removes our focus from just the bad stuff, sounds simple but it’s a very powerful technique if practised regularly), and diaphragmatic breathing (4 seconds inhale, 2 second pause, 6 second exhale, 2 seconds pause, and repeat).The sense of humour of the trainers was very important to me also. Everyone on the course was very brave so congratulations to all of them. I think only two people didn’t make it on the plane which considering how many people were on the course, I feel that that is a huge success rate. I am proud of everyone that faced their fears, even the two people that didn’t make it on the plane did well getting that close… maybe next time? When I was totally freaking out at one point Paul joked that if I made it to the ground I would have to grow long hair and maybe even dreadlocks. This made me laugh during my panic attach and made me relax (we are both bald!).
Anyway thanks to everyone involved, this includes the trainers and the other attendees. I heartily recommend this course to anyone who has a fear of flying. A secondary benefit is that the techniques will work for any form of fear, so I will now be using the techniques in other situations.
A very pleased bald passenger
Luton August 2013
I attended the course at Luton Airport this week, and just wanted to share my experiences and thank lots of people! My fear of flying has been so strong that I have not flown for over 13 years (after my last flight I swore to myself that I would never fly again) and even the thought of getting on a plane has always filled me with terror. My family want to go to Italy this year so I bit the bullet and enrolled on the Flying Without Fear course. The whole day was fantastic, very well organised, and the speakers were all very interesting and provided lots of great information to help us get over our fears of flying. The first half of the day consisted in the main of a talk from Captain Ralph, which was very informative, and helped to allay some fears and myths (for instance, I learned that there’s no such thing as air pockets, which always terrified me in the past). This was really good background knowledge for me, but didn’t in itself ‘cure’ me – I was particularly looking forward to the psychology section of the day, which followed after dinner. Howard gave us 6 or 7 different techniques for coping with the stress of flying or to try to get rid of it completely. However as the session went on, I felt that I was struggling to use the techniques, and that they weren’t working for me, and so I began to panic about the flight we’d shortly be going on, still feeling that I was lacking coping mechanisms. As we waited in the foyer to begin the walk to the departure lounge, I looked around at all the other ‘nervous fliers’ – most were now smiling, and looking confident….which made me feel even worse. Once we got to the airport, queued up through departures and security, and then walked across the tarmac up the stairs onto the plane, I was in blind panic mode…I lasted about 5 minutes in my seat before I made a dash for the door to get off. At this point you’re probably thinking “this isn’t a success story”, but please read on…(By the way, I’m so sorry but most of the people I’ll mention in this article I can’t remember their names…I’m not great with names at the best of times, let alone when I’m about to get on a flight!!!)I was persuaded not to get off the plane by one of the team leaders called Henrietta who then sat beside me for the entire flight, talking to me both to distract me and to explain some of the noises (unfortunately I couldn’t hear Captain Ralph’s in-flight commentary very well). Take off, and the first 5 minutes or so of the flight I still found very scary, but during this period and afterwards, it dawned on me that, scared as I was, I wasn’t as bad as I had been in the past – the information from Captain Ralph about how a plane works, what the pilots do etc. that I had previously considered ‘background’ information had come to the forefront of my mind now, so with every noise and movement of the plane I found that I was automatically working out what it was (wheels/flaps going up, banking etc.), which helped considerably. And also, Howard’s techniques that in my nervous state I had disregarded came flooding back to me, and I found the breathing exercises, rubber band technique, and in particular the ‘watching the bottle of water’ very helpful. During the flight I even managed to have a couple of ‘normal’ conversations with people, and look out of the window – both sound very minor, but to me were huge steps. The descent and landing again were nowhere near as scary as I’d found them in the past, from Captain Ralph’s talk I knew to expect some ‘bumpiness’ in the plane while travelling through clouds, and for the engine tone to drop as we slowed down preparing to land – and again the bottle of water was very reassuring! In the past I have got off a plane with a mixture of relief and euphoria that I had survived the ordeal, but strangely before we’d even reached our gate to depart the plane I was in a completely normal state, as though nothing had happened – to me this shows that I had coped much better than expected with the flight, so it didn’t seem a big deal at all that I was now about to get off the plane. Walking back to the hotel I felt proud of myself for doing the course and the flight, and also a sense of ‘I can do that again’. But that’s only half the story. As positive as this experience was for me, I really couldn’t have got through it at all without the following people, who I really want to thank. (again, apologies for the lack of names here!)
- The course organisers, for putting on such a fantastic day.
- The speakers, in particular Captain Ralph and Howard – the information and techniques they provided were invaluable to me throughout the flight.
- My team leader (Peter) who talked to me throughout the walk from the hotel to the airport, trying to calm me down and reassure me that it would all be OK!
- The cabin crew team leader who was on his first course, wearing the new cabin crew uniform (so sorry I’ve forgotten your name) who talked to me during the dinner break, at the airport and on the flight – very friendly and supportive
- The cabin crew who were very friendly, helpful and professional.
- The other people on the course, including: the lady who left her passport on the plane, the chap who was going on honeymoon to Hawaii shortly afterwards, and the guy whose first flight it was – all of whom I chatted with which helped a lot
- The Scottish lady who I talked to in the queue at departures and sat by when we first got on the plane, who gave me a big hug after we landed !!!
And in particular – The team leader that stopped me getting off the plane Henrietta – without her help and support I would have been much, much worse than I was – and I’m really glad she persuaded me to stay on the plane.
So overall – is my fear of flying cured? No.
I know that, although I’ll still be scared in a month’s time when I go to Italy, I am confident that I’ll be able to deal with the whole experience much, much better than I used to. I now have the knowledge and techniques to help me cope on the plane, and importantly rather than knowing that, in theory, flying is safe (which I think, deep down, most nervous fliers do), I now actually BELIEVE this. I can now look forward to my trip to Italy and see the flights as a challenge that I can overcome rather than dreading the whole holiday.
Gatwick 7th July 2013
I attended the Gatwick course yesterday (7th July 2013) as a fly only participant as a support for my partner who took part in the full days course.
As a flyer myself I always struggled to come to terms with the idea that my partner didn’t fly, nor did he entertain the idea of flying or flying courses and trying to find an alternative to get a family holiday abroad just wasn’t possible as I don’t do long car or coach journeys, cruises are too expensive and we also have a 1 year old baby to think of as well. So I bit the bullet and surprised him by booking the Virgin Atlantic ‘Flying without Fear ‘ course for him. His initial reaction was ‘I am not doing it, you have wasted your money’, after a couple of days of digesting it he came around to the idea and agreed to do it and even said he was excited.
On the day of course we arrived at Gatwick and we checked him in at the registration desk and I wished him luck and he walked toward a course I hoped would change his life. I made the decision to sit and wait for him at the hotel as did several other partners and friends of people on the course (the hotel was very nice and equipped with a nice lounge and Starbucks). My partner came out at the lunch break and first thing he said was ‘I am not cured but I am enjoying it’. Sceptical I wandered whether he would be too far into his fear to accept what the people on the course were saying and teaching them. At the allocated time when I could join my partner for the flight I joined him and the other people in his group and group leader Steve Pipe. My Partner came out smiling and everyone in the room was in high spirits. We boarded the bus and moved onto the airport, we went through normal boarding process and security checks and moved straight onto the departure lounge where we waited to board the plane. All the staff at the course were walking around and the team leader Steve stayed with the group the whole time and answered any questions people had. We boarded the plane and to my amazement my partner just walked straight onto the plane, with his fear being claustrophobia and the control factor, I was astounded he just walked onto the plane without any problems, we sat down and after a short period we started moving. The cabin crew done the safety briefing and the captain was extremely informative, giving commentary about everything he and his crew were doing. At take off my partner panicked and with some strong words of advice he calmed down. Once we were up again everything was commentated and explained. I was absolutely amazed my partner was looking out the window – something he vowed he would never do – he looked relaxed, he could even explain to me what the plane was doing. Everything which he learned off the course. Landing he was fine and everyone cheered. The whole flight everyone seemed relaxed and in good spirits. Our team leader Steve Pipe was amazing, he is a current steward with Virgin and very honest, knowledgeable and friendly.
I would not hesitate recommending this course to anyone and nor would my partner. My partner has been beaming ear to ear with pride that he has conquered his fear of flying, he was one of a few who had never flown at all and he went from complete denial that he would ever get on the plane, to enjoying the flight, and looking to booking our first family holiday abroad on a plane. Something I never thought we would ever achieve.
Virgin have an excellent team and if you are unsure whether this will work, I would highly suggest you try this course. The knowledge, patience and all round experience, even from a flight only participant has been amazing.
I just want to thank Steve Pipe, Richard, Paul and all the Team on the ‘flying without fear’ Gatwick course for helping my partner and giving us the opportunity to have family holidays together and you have helped my partner with something he thought he would never conquer, this course has been life changing!
Southampton 23rd June 2013
The last time I flew was around 3 years ago, through Virgin and both the trip over and trip back were a nightmare for my family. Both times I considered trying to get off the plane and even had to be held back by my brother in law (the plane was taxing at the time)… I was an emotional wreck, even with pills and wine (not a great combination). On the return flight I even had to talk to the co-pilot to calm me down (it worked till he had to get back to flying the plane!). The car journey to this course bought back the same feelings, knowing that at some point I would have to make a choice to get on a plane or not.
The course is very well structured, it builds slowly and has different areas from Virgin speaking and taking questions as they talk. This includes pilots and cabin crew, these people who actually do this day in and day out and treat a plane ride like a trip in a car.
There are some good messages, that you have to want to change, you have to make a decision to not travel along a motorway of fearful thoughts (the easy option), but to take a turning down, what might be a bumpy off road track and then change the way your mind is thinking and yes change the habit of a lifetime – and this route is worth it.
It is amazing that you sit with a group on a table and you start with everyone being a bit shy and head down, to talking through your own issues and actually understanding that you are not alone, that other people have the same problems.
What I found amazing is I got to the airport and I was trying to be worried, anxious, but it didn’t seem to bet there anymore.
When I was on the plane, I could feel myself getting nervous, but, the co-founder – Richard asked if I wanted to sit next to him, so I swapped seats (I think everyone probably thought I was doing a runner off plane at the time – and apologies to the lady I was sat next to at the time….!!). The weird thing was, the take-off actually excited me and the flight over the Solent was great, I have a fear of heights and yet, as Richard advised, its not the same feeling as being up a ladder, so I spent the whole time looking out of the window and even making a video of it. Its learning to control the irrational fear and thinking, and thinking – hang on, maybe this is OK, maybe some turbulence is OK, as these planes are built to cope with stuff like that. Maybe this is chilled, that I can cope, maybe I don’t need panic. I cannot recommend this course enough, I really wished I could do it again, just for the flight at the end, to go through that feeling. I cannot thank Richard enough and also our team leader David. Both of which coached throughout the whole day and made me feel like I wasn’t a complete idiot, even when I asked why some people had to move to the back of the plane for take off (balance – and yes the pilots actually know what they r doing – amazing!).
My only regret is I couldn’t thank the people on my table, as I had to take a later bus back to the hotel after the flight – I am sorry, terrible with names, I think Amanda was one of them, and the young lady who messaged on this board, who couldn’t stop dancing with nervous energy – Its great to hope that I actually helped you at the time. Also two guy on the table, one from Cornwall and one from the New Forest – Both of your helped me when we were at the airport and everyone single one of you was incredibly supportive and was great to talk even though we had our own versions of anxiety.
The Fear of Flying Team – THANK YOU. Its amazing that the cabin crew and pilots do this as volunteers.
I have another holiday booked with Virgin at the end of August, Orlando again… Richard – the memory I have of the flight and what you talked me through and the tools that I have learned is what I will be taking with me on this flight.
Please -if you have any phobia at all about flying, take this course, book it and look forward to it… know that the amazing people around you will help you and coach you though every step of the day.
What a journey – the most dangerous bit of the whole day was me nearly missing the turning to the hotel in my car (apologies if you were behind me at the time…)
Birmingham 26th May 2013
Just to say an enormous Thank you to all the Team at Birmingham on 26th May . I booked the course last minute ( in the hope it was full ! putting off facing my fear again !! ) But no… I got myself there under the assumption that it would be OK as I didn’t have to fly on the day ! Within minutes I was in tears just thinking about flying ! but thanks to my wonderful team leader Peter Higgins I soon felt a lot calmer ! Captain Dave was amazing with his information , calm and reassuring at all times and totally understanding of how we were feeling . We really were very lucky to have him that day , he dispelled a lot of myth and fear surrounding flying along with great basic technical information ( like how it stays up !! ) he made us feel totally relaxed and assured us that No question was a silly question ! ( as we all know we have lots .. mine was about bits of aeroplane dropping off or not working at all to name just 2 !!!) A very big thankyou .
Paul and Richard the co founders were great ,they really made us feel relaxed and were there to help and answer questions at any point . Richard introduced me to Howard the expert in behavioural change at one point when I got quite anxious and upset when the F word was mentioned again ! ( flight ) Howard was brilliant ! armed with a great sense of humour, plenty of valuable information and some easy to learn techniques he really helped myself and everyone else look at our ways of thinking and how to cope with our fears .
I walked quite happily to the airport.. it was a beautiful sunny evening , the airport was full of people excited about going on holiday and the atmosphere all along with our support team from Virgin was positive and enthusiastic . I think I was fairly near the front of the queue to board the plane !! Once on board our team leaders were there to support us ( Peter in front and his lovely wife behind me ) Howard was there checking we were all OK and Captain Dave in the cockpit talking us through the flight … It was a truly beautiful view at 17000 feet . I felt safe and secure and trusted the Great team that had got me there !
I really do recommend this course if you have any fears or phobias about flying … let the experts tell you how it really is ..not the media or the news .
I still have a bit to go to get some flights under my belt , but considering I thought I Was a total lost cause I am so proud of what I achieved taking the flight and so grateful to all the people involved . It is a massive step in the right direction and I now have logical responses to all my fears now !!! ( or an elastic band ! ) Thank you also to all the lovely people on my table ! ( especially Ellie who I sat with on the flight ! ) Its really reassuring when you know you are not alone with your fears or phobias ( thought I would be the only nutter there ! )
However you feel about flying or your own thoughts regarding this please don’t put it off or excuse yourself from doing this … It is really really really worth it . Thank you once again everyone xxx
Edinburgh 19th May 2013
Thank you so much to the whole team who ran yesterday’s course in Edinburgh. The comprehensive approach to learning about flight and challenging engrained thought processes, plus taking the actual flight has a very powerful affect. I have a flight booked in June, and I’m certain I’ll do very well. I really can’t say enough to praise your team – each one of you is deeply caring, patient, humorous, and light-hearted while maintaining a presence of knowledgeable authority on the subject of flight. I loved that there were so many opportunities to laugh, that you treated us with such respect, that you made it possible to cry without feeling stupid, and gave us the feeling that although you were supporting us totally, the final choice was ours and that whatever we chose was okay. I felt such a bond with the people on the course, although I didn’t even speak to some of them. I was so happy for the others on the course that they reached their goals, and I felt the support of my fellow passengers too. Once we were in the air, the plane had the atmosphere of a big party! There was laughter and chatting, constant commentary on what was happening and everyone checking on how each other was feeling. I loved it. It was such a change from the usual feeling on a flight, that I will make it my new memory of how flight can be. I only wish that there was a way for your team to imbue the air travel industry with some of your attitudes and approaches to make a sea-change in how it feels to travel by air. I felt like a human being again, and that there were caring, service oriented people who truly wanted to share their enjoyment of flight. To all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart, Rachel B
Newcastle 12th May 2013
WOW!!!!! Attended the Newcastle FWF course yesterday, started the day off with a lot of concern as to if I would get on the plane at the end of the day, honestly still wasn’t 100% when we got into the airport but then realised I was actually in an airport feeling relatively calm and better still slightly excited which was an achievement in itself. I want to thank all the team on the day, Katie my team leader was fantastic, no question was too big or too small and she was always there to reassure us 100% of the way and even sat next to us on the flight. The course material was split up nicely through the day and I honestly met some great people.
Thank you Steve for the talk on the flight, being talked through all the feelings and noises made the whole experience something I will never forget (for a good reason).
I went into this with an open mind as a last resort, why I didn’t attend this course as a first resort after years of being so scared to fly and spoiling the experience for so many other people is beyond me. I used to read the forums on here and sometimes think they were a fix, surely one day cant change years of fear. FALSE. I drove to work still smiling this morning, I’m looking out the window to see if I can see a plane (don’t know why because I’d only be jealous)!! This course is the best thing I have ever done, I cant believe how much it has helped me. Thank you all,
The course was the best money spent (after my Botox) No seriously I developed a real fear of being closed in on an Aircraft over 25 years ago, I never set foot on a Aircraft after that. Also ashamed to say I was so scared that I have never taken my Son, on a foreign holiday (he’s now 23) this is much to my regret. So why oh why didn’t I book myself on this course years ago??? My fear was so deep rooted that not even Psychologists & Psychiatrists could help me! I really couldn’t believe how calm I was on the flight, it was amazing. All of the team were fantastic. I would encourage any one with this fear TO DO THIS COURSE IT WORKS!
Not only has it helped me with my fear of flying but it has helped me in my normal day to day life such as being stuck in Traffic etc. etc. I no longer feel claustrophobic and panicky in these situations it’s actually unbelievable! I am telling every one about this! Guess what I fly to Ibiza, on the 14th June from Newcastle Airport with my friends and I can’t wait I’m so looking forward to it! Never thought I would be saying that again!
Thank you all so, so much you have opened up a whole new world for me. Ruth
Manchester 28th April 2013
What a day! I have never felt so relaxed getting on a plane. Don’t get me wrong, I did have the odd moment through the day when the old nerves crept in but all the advice, information and the simple techniques you are taught during the day helped me immensely. Simple things like an elastic band and a bottle of water can work wonders. When I got to the airport I used the word STOP once and there was no turning back! Fantastic, so simple. The in depth explanations by the very knowledgeable Ralph, of everything you could possibly think of concerning planes was brilliant.
Then there was Paul, presentation skills were top drawer. His use of humour was perfect without making light of peoples concerns. Not all the tools did it for me on the day but I’ll be practising the cinema one when I have a quiet afternoon next weekend! The flight was perfect. The commentary was excellent, so reassuring. Explaining everything as it happened. Met some great fellow, would be travellers on the day too along with our Virgin Team Leader, the lovely Hayley. Such a nice, caring person. What a friendly girl, never stopped smiling. Diamond.
Well that’s it. Portugal in June, haven’t been on holiday with my wife for 5 years but thanks to you guys that’s about to change.
One last little thing, I could never, ever sit by a window when flying. It’s a no no….sat down in my seat on Sunday next to the window and the rest is history!
Luton 14th April 2013
WOW!!! A miracle happened 14.04.2013. a team of beautiful people got ME on an aeroplane!! Something my family had resigned themselves to NEVER seeing. It was 36 years since my first and last flight………bags of time for me to make up incredible stories in my imagination! I had only been at the venue 15-20 minutes and panic set in……..and I was in tears. Within seconds a warm, friendly voice was reassuring me and convincing me that I really wasn’t stupid. As the day went on my anxiety peaked and troughed but I was aware that Captain Dave (Pilot extraordinaire ) and Janine (Virgin Airline Hostess with the mostest!! who just happened to be my team leader) were SO reassuring and incredibly easy to talk to. We were put in teams of 11-12 so it didn’t matter if you were on your own……..and most of us were on our own. Each team had a team leader.
The team leaders were on hand to keep a close eye on each individual member of their team but the whole group of organisers methodically and clearly answered ALL our questions and allayed many fears. This may be hard to believe but so is the fact that I GOT ON A PLANE AND ENJOYED IT!! Yes……. I was petrified ……..but this wonderful team of people helped me to overcome how I was feeling. Behavioural experts were also on hand with expert advice.
The in-flight commentary was so reassuring and made such a difference………every little motion of the aircraft was explained. We did some ‘banking’ and some ascending/descending – I was unbelievably calm and IN THE AIR!!!! I was looking out of the window most of the time AND REALLY, TRULY ENJOYED IT!! My only regret is that I don’t have it on video! I’m still flying through the air now and just can’t come down. I don’t currently have any future flights booked but I will definitely fly again -It was fantastic – the best £255 I ever spent. I would thoroughly recommend this course. It will be the first day of the rest of your life!! Many thanks to the whole Virgin team. xx
I just want to send a massive massive thank you to all at the course for a fantastic day at Luton. The course organisers and participants – especially Richard, Paul, Captain David and our team leader David Gott – were all incredible, they made the day interesting, fun, and helped quell all the myths and fears we’ve all worked up in ourselves!! They were lovely at answering all our questions, and incredibly knowledgeable, and there was lots of one-to-one help available for anyone who was finding it all a bit much.
During the course itself I wasn’t sure if I was feeling any different towards flying (although as Richard pointed out to me, I was able to wolf down a big lunch which normally I would never do if I was flying that night, I’d be too scared!!) – but when I got to the airport I realised I wasn’t feeling scared at seeing the planes at the gate, when normally even a picture of a plane is enough to set me off. Oooh, this is good, I thought! As we boarded the plane again I felt no fear at all – and I ‘made’ myself sit on my own at a window seat, near the wing, as this is something I have never ever done before (I normally avoid windows like the plague). Our team leaders all came on the plane with us, as well as Captain Dave, and they were excellent to answer any questions or concerns we had. During take off, instead of burying my face in my hands and crying hysterically as I always do (praying to survive the next few minutes!), I made myself listen to the advice given during the day and instead relaxed and looked out of the window for the whole experience. It was INCREDIBLE. The difference between what you see and what you feel is absolutely amazing – and the team were right, it is SO much better to look outside and let your eyes confirm what is really happening, rather than trusting your not-so-reliable balance senses! It actually made me really emotional – I won’t deny I shed a few tears – but they were tears of happiness, at having taken off in a plane without any fear whatsoever for the first time in my life, and being able to look at the most beautiful view out of the window.
It was really good to have the pilots speaking to us over the tannoy for the whole flight, explaining what every little noise and movement was, and the pilots also did a variety of things like banking, raising & lowering height, taking us through clouds etc. so we could experience what those all felt like. I have never felt so safe, supportive, or happy on a flight – I LOVED it. I wasn’t expecting to love it – I was hoping for a slight reduction in fear which would have been enough for me – but love it I did. If I could do a cartwheel, I would have been doing them all over the plane!!!
I am flying to Australia in 5 weeks and I am now actually really looking forward to the flight (can’t believe I’m actually saying that!) – I always used to have to take a lot of medication and alcohol to fly but now I know I won’t even need that. I would recommend the course to anyone who is frightened of flying – these guys really can help!
Thank to all at Flying Without Fear for their invaluable help – you really have changed my life in terms of flying, and actually in other situations too as I’m sure the techniques we learnt can be applied to anything – and I shall send a postcard from Oz! Many thanks from the bottom of my heart, Emma (the one with all the smiles!!!!)
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