Fear of flying

Fear of flying

Is your fear of flying interfering with your travel plans? Are you dreaming about that family reunion but plan to stay close to home because you are too afraid to board a plane? You are not alone, as one in six adults suffer from the fear of air travel. 

Fear of flying has many components that can stem from other common phobias including the fears of:

  • Enclosed spaces
  • Heights
  • Strange sounds
  • Sitting in stale air
  • Crowded situations
  • Lack of control
  • Terrorism 

It is important to keep in mind that flying is one of the safest modes of transportation in the world.  Your chances of being involved in an accident on a commercial airplane are approximately 1 in 11 million.  In contrast, the likelihood of being killed in a car accident is much greater - 1 in 5,000.  In fact, you have a far greater chance of being involved in an accident DRIVING to and from the airport than you do while in flight.

Airplanes are designed to withstand an incredible amount of stress during normal flight and are built to endure strong turbulence.  In fact, 99% of turbulence injuries occur from unfastened seatbelts or falling luggage.  

What can you do to decrease anxiety before a flight?

  • Do your homework.  Understanding the basics as to how airplanes operate can put your mind at ease before boarding a flight.  For example, realizing how an aircraft can continue to fly even if an engine fails can help you feel less concerned about your plane malfunctioning.  By conducting minimal research, you should be able to find simplified explanations on how planes stay in the air, what causes turbulence and what’s behind those scary thumps during takeoff and landing.
  • Prepare distractions.  Download that movie you’ve been looking forward to seeing.  Bring the book you’ve been meaning to finish.  Load up your phone, tablet or MP3 player with enough apps to keep you occupied during your flight.  Listening to peaceful music can often help bring a sense of calm and peace while flying.
  • Know who’s boss.  For many fearful fliers, the perceived lack of control is a primary driver of their phobia, especially since they have no influence over the safety or performance of the airplane.  Try to remind yourself that you made the choice to fly, and that you can determine how you respond to the experience.
  • Relax.  In many stressful situations, our breathing tends to get shallow.  However, deep breathing is an instant stress reliever.  Take in deep breaths for a count of 10 seconds and exhale slowly.
  • Keep your head up.  In the days and weeks leading up to your trip, it is easy to let anxiety take over.  Instead of worrying about the flight itself, try to keep your mind on more positive thoughts, such as all the fun things you’ll do once you reach your ultimate destination.

After a few deep breaths and positive thoughts, realizing there are impeccable safety measures in place and ensuring you have sufficient “distractions” on hand during your flight, you can be well on your way to successfully boarding an airplane.