Though the Health Ministry’s recent commitment to updating its list of red countries has significantly hampered the Israeli flight industry and left many travel agencies in shambles, there is a small subset of people for whom the idea of canceling a flight is a sweet relief: those with aviophobia, or fear of flying. Hoping to abate their fears is the Israeli pilot-led app SimpliFly.
Designed especially for flight anxious passengers, SimpliFly aims to help fearful flyers by providing peace of mind both before and during their flight via expert-developed video segments and a live one-on-one “Chat with a Pilot” feature. The app is available on both the App Store and Google Play.
CEO and founder of SimpliFly Captain Alon Pereg started his business after an experience helping a childhood friend’s daughter who was terrified of taking off.
“After helping her, she flew to Thailand and got engaged, and she was so happy. She told me, ‘You know, you have to do it [for others].’”
After that initial step, Pereg developed the app and is now experiencing steady growth, despite the current slump in outbound flights brought on by the Omicron variant. He attributed this partly to the American adoption of the service, but the Israeli side seems to be benefiting all the same.
“People are mostly downloading the app in light of potential flights, but a pretty big portion of them think their fear of flying is sitting on them all the time.”
According to El Al, between 10% and 20% of the population suffer from flight anxiety. For this subset of travelers, the idea of embarking on an international flight is sometimes an insurmountable task.
“It’s not a rational thing,” said aviophobe S. from Ma’aleh Adumim. “Of course, I know that it’s safer than driving on the roads. This is coming from some place which is bypassing my brain.”
SimpliFly hopes to alleviate that experience by supplying as much information as possible to worried passengers.
SimpliFly has already partnered with Israeli flight industry giant El Al, providing it with “a package that includes several services,” said Pereg. Every passenger, he explained, is entitled to access to the app for six months. All the media produced by SimpliFly is available to view on the in-flight media player, and a reading course is supplied to flight attendants to enable them to successfully approach anxious fliers.
For S. and many like her, the chance at relief from flight anxiety is a glimmer of hope.
“I want to go other places,” she concluded. She just doesn’t want to fly there.