New Virgin Atlantic iPhone app helps people with a fear of flying

I suffer from serious anxiety while flying. I’ve tried learning about the mechanics of flight, popping Xanax, I’ve even taken a flight lesson in an effort to cure my fear. Sometimes I can stay calm, but on other flights, for apparently no reason, I’ll suddenly have a panic attack. It’s more than a small problem.

For people like me, Virgin Atlantic has created a new iPhone app based on their Flying without Fear class. According to a press release, their course has a 98% success rate for helping fearful flyers cope. The iPhone app takes elements of the course (which recently helped Whoopi Goldberg manage her fear) and offers a mobile solution for use during the flight. Passengers can watch a video explanation of how planes work, read answers to frequently asked questions, and follow along with deep breathing and relaxation techniques.

There’s also a “fear attack” button for emergencies. The problem with that idea being, of course, that when I truly panic – shaking and hyperventilating – I don’t really have the capacity to hit my fear button and read and process the information. I’m too busy trying not to cry. But perhaps reviewing the information beforehand might help if a moment of panic strikes.

The Flying without Fear course usually costs about $350; the iPhone app is $4.99 in the iTunes store. Even if the app only helps a little, it sounds like a sound investment to me.

Afraid to Fly? Bring Your MP3 Player

Perhaps you’ve heard stories of people who will take incredibly long train rides to avoid getting on an airplane, or know people who don’t travel more than a couple hundred miles because of their fear of flying. I know two people who are like that.

There’s help though. I came across a round-up article that presents some options, a couple you can add to your music mix on your MP3 player. The style and prices vary.

One download, Fear of Flying at has a visualization, deep breathing exercise that is designed to mentally transport you to a calmer place. Instead of sweating bullets in your plane seat, you can picture yourself on a tropical island.

Another, Psychology of Flight Anxiety offered at uses down-to-earth talk therapy and anecdotes to help an anxious flyer to feel grounded. You can purchase the whole series, or just sections of it.

Fear of Flying Help Course ( gives practical, how-to-tips on how to not feel fearful and anxiety ridden.

The bummer about these solutions is that you can’t use an MP3 player during take-off and landing. I guess you listen to as much as you can before take off and landing so that when you do have to switch off the voices, you’ll still hear them.