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Virgin Atlantic Airways offers 'weep warnings' on in-flight movies

If you’ve ever hid tears while watching an in-flight movie you wouldn’t have been caught dead sitting through at home, then you’ll appreciate Virgin Atlantic Airways’ new amenity.

An illustrated “weep warning” will flash on screen at the beginning of films that may be especially moving. The first films to get the emotional alerts will be “Water for Elephants” with Reese Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson and “Just Go With It” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston.

In a news release, the airline said the warnings will signal to passengers that they may want “to have tissues at the ready and to press the call button for a shoulder to cry on.”

“Our flight crews are used to making sure everyone is comfortable,” said Greg Dawson, Virgin Atlantic’s director of corporate communications. “I’m not forecasting a torrent of tears on the next flight. But if we need to stock up on tissues, we will.”

Dawson said the airline began studying in-flight crying while testing some new on-board entertainment offerings.  “While debriefing the crew, we heard from them that a lot of the guys were getting quite emotional at some of the films.”

Intrigued, the airline commissioned a survey of 3,000 United Kingdom residents and discovered that more than half (55 percent) of the respondents said they experienced heightened emotions while flying.  Of the men surveyed, 41 percent said they’d hidden under blankets to hide their tears, while many women reported hiding tears by pretending they had something in their eye.

In a separate Facebook survey of customers, “Toy Story 3,” “The Blind Side” and “Eat Pray Love” topped a list of the 10 films that had made airline passengers cry while flying. “Brokeback Mountain” and “Gran Torino” were also on that list.  

“People may be especially susceptible to tearing up when flying because people are often already in an emotional state when they get on a plane,” said Seattle-based psychologist Makiko Guji. “It could be a big transition time in their life. They might have anxiety about flying. There are many reasons people may be more vulnerable when flying than when they’re in their daily routine.”

Still, Guji isn’t sure in-flight “weep warnings” are necessary. “Usually companies put out warnings to protect themselves. I don’t think anyone would complain to an airline that they got too emotional on the plane.”

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Find more by Harriet Baskas on StuckatTheAirport.com and follow her on Twitter.