Easing Anxiety for the Infrequent Traveler

First-Time Flyers class provides an orientation to air travel basics

By Jeff Martinelli

Published October 21, 2019

Read Time: 2 mins


Twenty years had passed between Miranda Wimer’s first flight in 1997 and her second, an October 2017 trip to Hawaii with her boyfriend.

Before departing for that second trip, Wimer wanted to ease her anxiety about flying. She also was looking for a way to prepare her two sons, Liam and Mark, for their upcoming first flight. She sought the advice of a pilot who told her to get more comfortable with the process by just visiting the airport.

“Although I had flown before, I was never a comfortable flyer,” said Wimer, 44, of Cranberry. “I just wanted to see how the process of everything had changed with security and how the airport had changed.”

What: First Time Flyers class

When: Noon – 2 p.m. Oct. 27

Where: Conference Room A, Pittsburgh International Airport

Sometimes timing can be perfect. Just a few weeks before the trip, Wimer saw an online post about Pittsburgh International Airport’s “First Time Flyers” class, which promised to take attendees through the travel process from booking to boarding.

“When ‘First Time Flyers’ popped up, I thought it would be a good addition to what that pilot suggested,” Wimer said. So she and her two sons registered for the class.

“First Time Flyers” – which will be offered again from noon to 2 p.m., Sunday, October 27, at Pittsburgh International Airport – is a comprehensive, on-site course that takes first time or inexperienced flyers through the travel process. Attendees learn everything from booking a flight online to navigating the parking lots and checking in, and they take a tour of the airside terminal. Additionally, the TSA gives a brief presentation about the do’s and don’ts at the security checkpoint.

Registration for the free course is limited to 30 people and ends this Thursday at 4 p.m.

New this year, attendees will have access to Presley’s Place – the airport’s new sensory room and the American Airlines Cabin Experience, which is a replica of an aircraft featuring three rows of seating, overhead bins, and a jetway-like entrance.

Pittsburgh International’s new sensory room, Presley’s Place, features a realistic airplane cabin experience area. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

“The course has received lots of positive response,” said Samantha Stedford, Director, Customer Experience for the airport. “We are very excited to be able to add Presley’s Place and the cabin experience to the course. These features directly address the nervous flyer and are designed to reduce their anxiety levels.”

The “First Time Flyers” course is open to anyone. Although the course content is designed for those who have never flown, infrequent flyers can benefit as well.

“They were so excited,” Wimer said of her sons. “I did not want to pass my anxieties along to them. It was nice to be around people who shared my concerns. It’s a great program and I never would have got on that plane [without it]. It was really helpful.”

Register for the course here.

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