Crisis Communications: Airlines

Immersive training for airline employees requiring experience in crisis communications and exposure to the media.

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Built in partnership with CrisisVR

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CrisisVR is a pioneering e-learning service that enables students to prepare for crisis situations using VR environments.

Learn to effectively communicate in a crisis

Official company spokespersons are rarely in the right location at the time of a crisis. In the ‘golden hours’ after a major incident, companies turn to front-line managers and agents to face the news media.

This course reflects the reality of communications in the modern era. CrisisVR has worked with internationally renowned communications expert, John Bailey.

Using his first-hand experience of multiple real crises, John has prepared a programme that will lead delegates step-by-step to understand the techniques for communicating effectively when under extreme pressure.

Who should take this course?

This crisis communications course is designed for airline middle to senior management requiring initial training in the principles of crisis communications and exposure to the media. The course is particularly suitable for Station Managers and Communications staff, or as initial training for potential spokespersons and other front-line staff.

Online learning, done differently

We combine online classes with VR for a unique learning approach. At certain points in this crisis communications course, you'll be prompted to practice what you've learnt in VR.

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Learn with tutorial classes

You’ll complete a series of videos, quizzes, slideshows and case studies through our online platform - available to access at any time.


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Practice in realistic VR

Practice what you learn with VR scenarios specific to this course. Communicating in a crisis is just like any other skill - you need to practice to improve.


VirtualSpeech's learn, practice, improve loop

Improve with VirtualSpeech's loop

Learn online and then practice in VR. This loop occurs multiple times throughout the course and helps you improve more effectively.

Improve your media skills

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Course curriculum


  • Welcome to this VR training; a new way to prepare for your role as a front-line spokesperson for your company. This module is an introduction to the concepts of Crisis Communications and why this is important.
  • Welcome to this course
  • How to take this course
  • Why have you been asked to take this course?
  • What is crisis communication?
  • Importance of effective communication in a crisis
  • Example: MH17 press conference, Amsterdam Schiphol
  • It is time now to focus on the incidents and emergency situations that will require an immediate communications response. This module will help you navigate the first hours after an incident.
  • Responding to crises on the front line
  • Potential scenarios for front-line managers
  • Managing the consequences
  • Common mistakes which make a bad situation worse
  • Key facts you need to know
  • What do people expect to hear from you?
  • What can you say when you have little/no information?
  • Other sources of information for the news media and families
  • To be ready for your duties as a front-line spokesperson, it is important that you understand the nature of communications in the modern era. By examining the demands of the news media you will be better prepared for your own role.
  • Why is crisis communications so complicated?
  • The changing media landscape
  • How Best Practice has evolved
  • From notification to first statement
  • What is your role as a front-line spokesperson?
  • Understanding the audiences: who are you talking to?
  • In this module you consider the different agencies who will communicate in a crisis. You will also learn why consistency and accuracy are so important in your delivery of key messages.
  • Intro to your responsibility for communicating
  • What is the airline responsible for after an accident/incident?
  • Example: What can you talk about?
  • Example: What subjects should you avoid?
  • Other parties likely to be involved
  • The role of the airport
  • Role of the investigating body
  • Example: Ensuring consistency with other airline channels
  • Working with external vendors
  • Like any professional skill, communications has its own ‘rules’, priorities and sensitivities. In this section you will closely examine your technique for communicating in a crisis.
  • Intro to communication tips
  • Rational vs Emotional
  • Example: What you say and how you say it
  • Example: Using "key messages"
  • Deciding what to say
  • The message pyramid
  • Using "blocking and bridging"
  • Example: Using apologies
  • Do’s and don’ts when facing the media
  • The first press conference during an emergency can be a very daunting experience. Being prepared is so important. Through practice in a VR environment, this module will give you the confidence to face the news media.
  • Intro to holding a press conference
  • Selecting the right venue
  • VR training: Press conference setup
  • Role of a moderator
  • Example: Laying down the “ground rules”
  • Example: Preparing your opening statement
  • Thinking about Questions and Answers
  • Example: Ending the press conference
  • Activity: Prepare for the VR press conference
  • VR training: Press conference practice
  • Of course, press conferences are not the only time you might face the news media. In this section, you will learn of other situations, even surprise ones, that you should be prepared for.
  • Intro to other media exposure
  • What kinds of exposure can you expect?
  • Preparing for interviews
  • Media ambush
  • Activity: Prepare for the media ambush
  • VR training: Media ambush
  • How to survive an ambush
  • VR training: Repeat media ambush
  • This section covers next steps after completing the course, as well as the final course quiz.
  • Intro to next steps
  • Recommendations for preparation and practice
  • Final Course Quiz
  • In this optional session, you are introduced to your potential role to speak with people directly and indirectly affected by an accident. This is a completely different skill than talking to the news media.
  • Family members in a centralised facility need constant and accurate information on the status of their loved ones. In this second optional session, you are shown the briefing rooms and how they are set up.

Your instructor

John Bailey course author

John Bailey

John has provided crisis communications consultancy and training for more than 60 aviation clients, including airlines, airports and aircraft and engine manufacturers. He previously worked with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva, Switzerland, where he played a pivotal role in developing “best practice” in crisis communications for the global airline industry.

John has been involved in the response to several major aviation incidents and is a regular speaker on crisis communications at conferences and universities around the world, including at the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Training Center.

VR Training: VR scenarios for this course

Practice crisis communications with the leading VR training app on the market, downloaded by over 200,000 users. At key points during the online part of the course, you'll be prompted to practice what you've learnt in one of the following VR training scenarios.

VR features to improve your communication

Learn to communicate more effectively with our VR features.

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Record performance

Save your statements and presentations to your learning portal, where you can receive additional feedback and identify areas you need to improve.

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Voice analysis

Receive instant feedback on your training session with our voice analysis and eye contact technology.

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Realistic scenarios

Practice difficult crisis communications scenarios, from press conferences to ambushes, until you are confident you can deal with the real event.

Need a VR headset?

A headset is required to use the VR training - if you don't already have one, select the headset option when you enroll and we'll send you one.

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