Needless to say, we all love traveling and taking in new destinations, but there is one part of travel that many people do not look forward to – flying. While some consider flying a hassle owing to airport delays, high fares, and lost luggage, for some flying is more than an inconvenience- it is downright terrifying.
The fear of flying can be attributed to a number of factors including a fear of heights and claustrophobia. More often than not, however, many fearful fliers tend to experience an irrational anxiety that the plane will malfunction and crash, regardless of how many times they may have heard statistics to the effect that flying is safer than driving. Other travelers panic at the idea that they are not in control of the aircraft that they are in or worry about the possibility of terrorist hijackings.
No matter the reasons behind your irrational fear of flying, there are certain steps you can take in order to alleviate your fears since the decision to fly or not is a personal one and one that cannot be made on your behalf. For those determined not to let such fears change their way of life, here are a few tips on how to overcome the fear of flying as follows:
Prior to the trip
1. Knowledge of what to expect
For many fearful fliers, learning how airplanes operate can go a long way in assuaging their fears. For instance, you may have fewer concerns about your plane malfunctioning if you knew that a plane can still continue to fly even if an engine fails. Also, it is advisable to learn what causes turbulence, how planes stay in the air, and what is behind those scary sounds that passengers experience during takeoff and landing.
2. Get to know what your plane looks like
Familiarizing yourself with how your plane looks like prior to your trip may actually make it appear less scary. For example, there are those who may prefer to put a picture of the cabin on their desktop such that by the time your flight rolls around, the image is familiar and not scary.
3. Get an aisle seat
Most booking engines and airlines allow passengers to request a seat assignment when booking their flight. For those particularly prone to claustrophobia, it is advisable to a request an aisle seat as you will be able to move around the cabin more easily and also feel less hemmed in by other people. In addition, this will also make it easier to avoid looking out of the window at those sky-high views that are likely to add to your anxiety.
4. Curb media intake
This may seem straightforward but it is worth mentioning nonetheless: avoid news coverage of plane crashes, airplane disaster movies, or other scary media images to do with planes. Remember, there are thousands of flights that arrive safely throughout the world on any given day and it is only the problem flights that make it to the news. Do not let that alter your impressions of flying.
5. Positive thinking
In the lead up to your flight, it is easy to allow negative thoughts to take hold. Instead, try to focus on all the positive and fun things that you will do once you arrive at your scheduled destination.
At the Airport
1. Avoid rushing
Before your flight is scheduled to depart, allow yourself plenty of time to get to the airport as racing to the gate whilst worrying about whether you may miss the plane only adds to the anxiety.
2. Where possible, wait for your flight in a lounge
Most airlines today have private lounges which are luxurious, quiet oases away from the hustle and bustle synonymous with airports. While these are usually reserved for elite fliers or club members, you can choose to purchase a day pass which costs about $50- a small price to pay if you need a nice place to relax as you prepare for your departure.
1. Try meet the crew
If you have time before the flight departs, you could ask to meet the plane’s pilots. Alternatively, you could spend some time chatting up a flight attendant. Often, meeting those responsible for the safety of the flight can make the plane seem a little friendlier and leave you reassured that the crew is competent and knowledgeable.
2. Listen to music
Bring your iPod and play some soothing tunes to help you acquire a peaceful frame of mind.
3. Remember who is in charge
As mentioned earlier, many fearful fliers tend to be bothered by their lack of control since they have no influence over the performance or safety of the aircraft. Try to get a grip over such thoughts by reminding yourself that the decision to fly was solely yours, and only you can decide how to respond to the experience.
As your anxiety builds up, your breathing is likely to get shallow. The good news, however, is that deep breathing is an instant stress reliever. Try to breathe deeply and slowly for a count of, say, 10.
5. Watch something fun or read
Pack a good book or magazine to take your mind off what is going on. Alternatively, pre-load a few of your favorite movies onto your laptop or order a comedy on the plane in-flight entertainment system.
6. Order a drink
Most fearful fliers often turn to alcohol in an attempt to calm their nerves. And while this is fine in moderation, alcohol should not be taken together with anti-anxiety medications. In addition, alcohol may lead to dehydration in an airplanes arid environment. Therefore, if you decide to treat yourself to a cocktail, ensure that you follow it up with plenty of fluids.
7. Stay away from caffeine
This and other stimulants may have the undesired effect of making you even more jittery.
8. Turn on the air vents
As soon as you board the plane, turn on the air vents above your head and enjoy the air flow. This should leave you feeling less claustrophobic.