Gadling app review – Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear (iPhone/iPod Touch)

Several days ago, Katie mentioned a new application from Virgin Atlantic called “Flying Without Fear”. I’m always on the lookout for new and innovative travel apps, so I took this one for a spin.

The first thing you notice in the application is how well it is designed – the colors are all in the familiar Virgin tints (red and purple) and navigation is a breeze. The best place to start is with the introduction video.

Richard Branson himself welcomes you to the application, and lets you know he’d love to meet you “up there” some day. Part two of the course is an explanation of the in-flight experience. This 11 minute video clip walks you though the various stages of flight.
Inflight experience video

The video is presented by a Virgin Atlantic pilot, so he knows a thing or two about the plane. During the video, you’ll be taken from the preflight portion of the flight to the final stages. He explains all about the noises you’ll hear on the ground and why you see pilots walking around the plane on the ground. The clip is very entertaining, but also quite detailed – down to the noises you’ll hear when flaps are positioned on the ground. And finally in the preflight portion, the pilot even explains what those dings are you’ll hear right before takeoff.

The takeoff portion is equally detailed – describing the exact procedure, and what all the bangs and when you can expect the engines to power down a little. The video also shows the flaps retracting, and what to expect once at cruising altitude.

In the “cruising” portion, the pilot explains the one part of flying that most people hate the most – turbulence. He explains that aircraft are designed to deal with turbulence, and that it is normal for wings to flex.

The descent and landing part once again describes the various engine noises you can expect , and what slats and flaps are doing. Especially if you are sitting near a wing, learning what these things do is quite helpful. Landing gear deployment is described, and the final approach is explained in great detail, down to the speed at which you’ll be hitting the ground.

And finally, the video explains a go-around, or an aborted landing. I’ve been through quite a few of these, and I can see where they’d be pretty scary for people with a fear of flight.

Common questions answered

Part three of the course answers all the common questions many people have when flying. It is split into various portions (engines, landing, pilots, sounds, takeoff, weather and wings). Audio clips answer almost 25 different topics, from in-flight medical emergencies to why a water landing is safe.

Each answer is very comprehensive, and once again, a Virgin Atlantic pilot answers the questions.


Once you have followed the course, you can begin on the exercises. Think of these as a kind of hypnosis. A very soothing voice leads you through the entire stage of flight.

From booking the trip to arriving at your destination. The voice is amazing, and I can really see people being relaxed listening to him. Ten different stages are offered, and you can start listening to them before you even consider taking a flight, just to get a good idea what to expect.

Fear Attack

The same soothing voice as in the exercises also helps you get through a fear attack. Part one is a breathing exercise, designed to calm you down and get your mind off the flight. This portion also provides some basic tips, like talking to your seatmate or getting up to walk around.

Managing your fears

In the final portion of the application, you can “rate” your air travel fears. After you select which portions of a flight you are the most scared of, you add the date of your flight. Then, on the day you fly, the application will send push reminders with alerts and schedule reminders.

Final thoughts

There is no denying it – this is one amazingly well designed application. I’m really impressed at how personal they made it – instead of just a couple of screens showing how to deal with your fear of flying, the app almost holds your hand and guides you through each step. The pilot video is fantastic, even for someone who does not fear flying.

The pilot narrated audio guides are also great. So many topics are covered, and the various portions create a very good resource for learning about flying. And finally, the exercises are just plain brilliant – I love the voice used to narrate these, it is so soothing and reassuring.

All the content is stored on your device, so you do not need to be connected to the Internet to take advantage of it. This means you can sit back, plug in your headphones and listen to the course whenever you want.

Of course, everyone has a different way they deal with their fear of flying, and I’m by no means able to claim this application will cure all your fears, but at $4.99, it really is worth trying. You’ll find the Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear application in the App store (iTunes link).