Does the thought of flying scare the absolute shit out of you? Well, if you’re like me and you’re not particularly fond of sitting in a giant missile that gets flung across the globe at crazy speeds, you’re in luck.

Virgin Australia have just announced a new secret code to put on boarding passes that’s much less terrifying than the SSSS secondary security screening code.

The new code allows passengers to pre-identify themselves as anxious flyers, rather than feeling like a total burden when they freak out the second the propellers start turning.

“The Nervous Flyers program allows us to connect with our passengers throughout a number of touchpoints during their journey. Whether it’s sharing breathing techniques from one of our expert partners or a video to help put passengers at ease about turbulence, we want our guests to know we care and we’re here to support them.”

As a self-confessed nervous flyer, the idea of having a way for the flight crew to know that I’m secretly shitting my pants without having to physically tell them is a godsend.

The program is so stupidly simple that I’m shocked it’s never existed before. You don’t get a name tag that says “hi my name is ANXIETY RIDDEN MESS”. Virgin’s new initiative sounds really discrete and just… nice.

You get dedicated information about easing anxiety, and the flight attendants will casually visit your seat throughout the flight to make sure that you’re feeling okay.

Obviously anxiety is a serious thing and a flight attendant asking you if you need a glass of whiskey isn’t going to solve everything. But it’s nice to see that Virgin is making customer comfort and mental health a priority.

Virgin also offer mediation services in the in-flight entertainment, extra information about the plane mechanics and other stuff that you’re probably worried about, and a nice little positive affirmation text the day before the flight.

All you need to do is tick the Nervous Flyer box when you book your flight. Yep. That’s it. Insanely simple. As long as you notify Virgin at least seven days before your flight you’re covered!

According to Virgin Australia, more than 1 in 10 passengers reported feeling uneasy during a flight. This new program aims to ease that discomfort and anxiety.

“Our research tells us more than 11 per cent of our guests experience high levels of nervousness about travelling, and that they want information and support to help them through their next flight,” Stuart Aggs, Virgin Australia’s acting chief operations officer said.

As someone who only developed a fear of flying as an adult, it can be a really stressful thing to deal with. I know I’m being irrational. I can run all of the statistics and facts through my head. But the second I hear the engine start I feel that dreaded anxiety chest pain and it’s all over.

If nothing else, this program will hopefully make anxious flyers feel like less of a burden to those around them. Feeling a little nervous (or a lot nervous) about flying is really common, it’s nice to see a major airline helping to normalise it.

Here’s hoping the initiative takes off.

Image: Virgin Australia