Fear of Flying

Fear of Flying

Do You Experience a Fear of Flying?

It may be triggered by stressful flight conditions or appear as your dissatisfaction with the airline, but you could be suffering from fear of flying.

  • It becomes more evident as takeoff approaches.
  • Symptoms include wide-eyes, profuse sweating, clenched fists, chest pain, dizziness, unsteadiness, faintness, fear of dying, trembling, shaking and rocking motions.

I had a friend with whom I travelled, who could not talk to me during take-off. This individual really had the fear of flying.

View of the Intercoastal Waterway flying into West Palm Beach, Florida

Considering that we are flying in a metal tube filled with flammable liquid and then we are bombarded by the media with graphic details of historical air fatalities, it’s not surprising that many people have some degree of fear flying.

Statistics show that at least one out of every six adults has a fear of flying, also known as aviophobia.

Above Florida on a Cloudy Day

Did you know that 35 percent of all airline crews, flight attendants and pilots, also experience the fear of flying? 

  • And they do this for a living, so don’t worry if you are trying to overcome your flying fear.

The key is recognizing it and learning how to get it under control.

High in the Sky above the Gardens of Chateau de Versailles, France

You may find some of the following statistics helpful:

  • The fear of flying originates from other fears such as enclosed spaces, crowded situations, heights, strange sounds and loud noises in the aircraft, sitting in uncirculated stale air, the feeling of a lack of control, and more recently the fear of terrorism.
  • Air travel is the 2nd safest mode of transportation in the world and the chances of being involved in an aircraft accident are approximately 1 in 11 million.
  • Your chances of being killed in an automobile accident are far greater being 1 in 5000.
  • It is more dangerous driving to the airport than flying on an aircraft. You really should try flying without fear.
  • Airplanes are designed to withstand far more stress than occurs in regular flight, including ordinary and extraordinary turbulence.
  • Although this is true, a severe storm could damage an aircraft and this is why flights will divert around or cancel due to thunderstorms.
  • It is important to follow the advice while on board an airplane to fasten your seatbelts as 90% of turbulence injuries are from unfastened seatbelts, or falling luggage.

Here are my top tips to overcome fear of flying:

  • Don’t hide it.
  • Tell the ticket agent when you check in, the flight attendant when you board, and the passengers you are sitting with.

There is nothing to be embarrassed about. You need to have support, not added frustrations by suffering in silence.

Bird’s eye view of the Italian Alps north of Lake Como

When you check-in, it is advised that you ask for a seat as close as possible at the very front of the cabin.

If that is not available, ask for an aisle seat: 

  • Turbulence is usually greater at the back of the aircraft.
  • If you have an extreme fear of flying, take the shortest flight you can find and preferably in the biggest plane possible.
  • Understand that turbulence is like bumps in the road.
  • Hundreds and thousands of passengers experience this daily so don’t tense up or fight it, but instead, let your body flow with the aircraft movements.

The other option is to take a window seat, as I do:

  • I find that starring out the window and meditating gives me peace and inspiration.  I love to see the beautiful scenery from way up in the sky. 
  • If we are travelling through clouds, I observe the the clouds whisping over the wings and marvel at the technology of aircraft aerodynamics. 
  • If the plane is shaking and the wings are swinging up and down, you may feel relieved to know that airplanes are built to be flexible and allow for movement in the wings, just like skyscrapers are built to sway back and forth in high winds. 

Believe you will get to your destination safely, and you will.

Crossing the Swiss Alps

Keep yourself distracted by watching a movie, reading a book, doing a crossword puzzle, or having a nap.

  • Do activities that keep your mind occupied and not dwelling on fear flying.
  • A glass of wine may calm the nerves, but don’t overdo it.  Drink water to avoid dehydration.

Do listen to peaceful and calming music as your mind may otherwise wander and hear sounds that either don’t exist which are perfectly normal flight noises.

The Rhone Valley enroute to the South of France

There are classes available for those with fear flying.

  • Avoid the news media.
  • It is important to be informed about air fatalities, but remember that these are rare occurrences and if you are planning a wonderful trip – do yourself a favour and think about positive things instead – like a fantastic travel experience!
  • Dream about it and let it be.

When you feel the fear of flying, breathe deeply as often as you can, and allow yourself to relax.

The French Riviera – flying into Nice, France

Fear is the number one enemy and it is intangible; only a state of mind. 

  • Change your state of mind to something positive. 
  • Let go of your fears and allow happy and safe thoughts to give you a wonderful flying experience.   
  • As I mentioned before, do yourself a favour and think about positive things instead.
  • Overcome fear of flying and indulge yourself in healthy dreams – like a fantastic travel experience!