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Vodafone Firsts: Grandmas An and Ria are in their 70s and had never flown in an aeroplane

7 Apr 2014Digital Society
3 minute read

They took their first flight together, beat their fears – and forged a new friendship

  • 71-year-old An was so scared of flying she said she “wouldn’t fly if you paid her”
  • Ria, 78, only ever travelled with her late husband, who wouldn’t fly as he had a fear of heights
  • Together, they accepted Vodafone’s challenge of taking their first-ever flight, conquering their fears and sharing an experience that left them close friends

Two grandmothers from the Netherlands who never had the chance to fly – or were too scared to do so – have achieved a remarkable feat by flying for the first time, in a memorable trip made possible by Vodafone Firsts. They made their first plane trip in style, travelling by private jet from Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport to Barcelona, and they used a tablet device to stay in touch with their loved ones at either end.

Beforehand, An revealed a serious fear of flying. “You won’t get me in there,” she said. “Not even for money.” But just ahead of her 72nd birthday, she decided: “If I don’t do this now, I never will. Sometimes opportunities come by in life that you just have to take.”

Ria, meanwhile, had only travelled with her husband. Flying was out of the question, since he had a fear of heights. Since he passed away, she has resisted any opportunity to travel far afield. After being partnered with An through Vodafone Firsts, Ria once again had a travel companion – and her desire to travel returned. She said: “I’ve now got this opportunity, but otherwise I don’t think I would have ever flown. This is so exciting!”

Both women prepared for their first-ever flight in their own unique ways. Ria rode a rollercoaster to get used to the thrill of being airborne, while An attempted to calm her nerves by taking a flight simulator ride. Despite qualms from An and Ria’s pre-take-off anxiety, they soon conquered any concerns and were captivated by the beauty of the view from the jet’s windows.

Thanks to simple-to-use tablet unaxone, designed for elderly people by Vodafone xone*, Vodafone’s innovation, incubation and venture arm in the Silicon Valley, An and Ria were able to document their momentous journey and connect with their loved ones along the way. On an emotional video call with her husband Jan when she arrived in Barcelona, An told him: “It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it and the other lady’s so kind. It’s just like a dream.”

An and Ria’s first ever flight is captured in a film released today on The first flight was made possible by Vodafone Firsts, a programme which helps people do remarkable things for the first time. An and Ria wanted to fly in an aeroplane. Others have opted to surf one of the most dangerous waves in the world, form a female fight club to protect women in India, and devise a way of conducting an orchestra using colour alone.

To see a short film about Ria and An’s first flight, and to find out more about Vodafone Firsts, visit

For more information, contact:

Vodafone Group
Media Relations

Ogilvy London
Ceri Bevan

Note to Editors


About Vodafone Firsts
Vodafone Firsts is Vodafone’s global brand programme, activated across the world from 2014. A social media-led programme,
Vodafone Firsts is about inspiring people to do something remarkable for the first time using mobile technology. Vodafone began by recruiting a series of inspirational people to help them achieve their Firsts. Vodafone will also ask consumers what they would like to do for the first time, helping to make their ambitions a reality.

About Vodafone
Vodafone is one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies with approximately 419 million customers in its controlled and jointly controlled markets as of 31 December 2013. Vodafone has equity interests in telecommunications operations in nearly 30 countries and around 50 partner networks worldwide. For more information, please visit:

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