Before I start, I think Sir Richard Branson is great! As a Brit, I think there are a handful of people that as a nation we can be proud of and Sir Richard Branson is right up there in my book. I have followed his adventures for years, have read his books and I think the man is truly inspirational.
That said, while browsing the Apple App Store for iPhone apps I happened upon the Virgin Atlantic “Flying Without Fear” program. I am not scared of flying at all, but I happen to know a few people who are and this app looks great. It covers everything from explaining what all the noises are, the procedures during the flight, the concept of turbulence, right through to what to do if you feel you are starting to panic. Brilliant!
I believe every airline should have things like this. In the grand scheme of things it costs them little to produce and maintain and can be one way in which they can make their potential customers feel welcome and valued, like they actually WANT you to conquer your fear and get on their plane (where you will subsequently pay through the nose for every aspect of your journey).
My problem with this app is they have priced it at $4.99 (£2.99 in the UK). Ok, it is not exactly re-mortgage the house money, but really, this should be FREE. People do not choose to be scared of flying, and as a national carrier, Virgin should be doing more to help those with a legitimate fear of flying. You don’t see airlines refusing to help disabled passengers board the plane, do you? Airlines go out of their way to help the disabled, elderly, and infirm. Why can’t they do the same for those affected by fear of flying?
I have the utmost respect for Sir Richard Branson, but when I first saw this app I thought “great, this is a guy who cares”, then I saw the price tag and was less than impressed.
Yes, I know they are a business and I know there are shareholders to satisfy, but for a company that plans on being one of the first in line to take paying passengers into space, maybe they could break some frontiers a little closer to home first.
I know there is very little chance Mr Branson is reading this post, but if you are… With respect, please don’t try and profit from peoples fears, and most of all, please don’t turn into Alan Sugar!