How to Get Over Your Fear of Flying

If you have a fear of flying, you’re not alone. More than a 5th of the population suffers from this same phobia. Despite the fact that you’re about 100 times more likely to die in a car accident than a plane crash, millions of people still start to hyperventilate at the thought of flying. Whether it’s because you’re afraid of heights or that you don’t like relinquishing control, a fear of flying can be debilitating if you’re a business person or have family across the country. But fear not! We’re here to give you time-tested tips on how to change your mindset and beat your fear of flying once and for all!


Tip #1: Don’t let turbulence alarm you

Turbulence, although unnerving, is rarely a cause for alarm – yet most people end up soaked in sweat at the mere thought of a bumpy flight. But rest assured that turbulence is a very common occurrence and no plane has or will ever fall out of the sky from a gust of wind. Next time you’re on a flight and it starts to get a little rough, remember that birds and planes use air currents in the same manner; and how often have you seen birds just fall out of the sky from an air pocket?


Tip #2: Fake it ’til you make it

There’s a lot to be said for faking confidence in any situation, but especially when it comes to battling fears and anxieties. If you behave like someone who does not possess a fear of flying, you’ll find yourself much calmer. Pretend that you’re someone who enjoys flying and your brain will be able to register the logic that planes are the safest mode of transportation and that the chances of something catastrophic occurring are minute.


Tip #3: Research the safety features

Planes are equipped with state-of-the-art safety equipment to minimize risk and make certain that all of their passengers land safely. All commercial airlines are thoughtfully designed to withstand just about any emergency situation. Once you see what goes into the design and maintenance of these flying machines, your mind will be much more at ease.


Tip #4: Medicate if needed

If your fear is so large that mind over matter exercises can’t help you, there’s no shame in medicating. You can talk to your doctor about prescribing anti-anxiety medications for your next flight. Or, you can always self-medicate and hit up the mini-bar on board if your nerves get too frazzled. Just don’t do so beforehand or you might be denied entry to your flight upon boarding.


Tip #5: Choose the best seat

You’re more inclined to remain calm if you’re comfortable; so go ahead and splurge on the upgrades to make your flight seem like part of the vacation and not something you dread. When you’re comfortable physically, it’s that much easier to maintain a peaceful emotional state. Also keep in mind which seat would ease your anxiety the most when booking your flight. If you’re afraid of heights, choose an aisle seat so you can just pretend you’re in a normal, ground-based sardine can. If it makes you feel better to see the views, book a window seat. And if you’re a white-knuckle seat gripper, opt for a middle seat so you have two armrests to dig into if turbulence occurs. You’ll also want to get a seat closer to the front of the plane where the motion is minimized a bit if you get motion sickness or are petrified of turbulence.


Tip #6: Remember the facts and use logic

When afraid, the logical part of the brain often shuts down and panic attacks can result. So, I recommend doing some research on flying as well as the science and mechanics of air travel. This way your brain can be armed with some facts to combat those irrational fears. Think about what scares you the most while flying and learn the facts behind those fears. Worried that you’ll lose an engine while in the air? Look up airplane engineering and how aircraft parts are engineered and maintained. Paranoid that someone will hijack the plane? Look up safety protocols and airline screenings. If you’re petrified of turbulence, research how air currents work. When your brain is informed, if you hit a bumpy patch in the air or you hear a funny noise, you can use those facts you’ve learned to override your fear instead of enduring an anxiety-ridden flight.

Kimberly Beard

Kim is the Retention Marketing Manager for ParkSleepFly.

  • EnviroBK

    As a very frequent flyer with a wife that has a deep fear of flying, I respectifully disagree with some of the author’s points. 1) don’t drink alcohol, it could exascerbate your fears. 2) Select a seat near the center of the plane, the movement of the plane seems to be less in the middle. 3) Don’t take a center seat and grip both armrests, your seatmates will hate you, and by tensing your muscles, you are emphasizing your fears. I agree with the visit to the Dr for a prescription. But, take the minimum needed to take the edge off, and don’t use the prescription for any other purpose. Do bring a couple movies or TV shows on your tablet or phone. Pick something that you know will keep your attention. Or, bring some podcasts that you love. Start the movie or podcast as soon as you can – just after the safety announcements. The idea is to focus your attention on something other than the flight. Briefly chat with the flight attendants. Let them know about your fear – they work with people that fear flying every day and might be helpful to you if they see any signs in your behavior that are a concern. Its better that they know that its a fear of flying, rather than a heart attack! Think about the end game: you are going to a wedding, important business meeting, vacation – you don’t want to miss it. Using these tips helps – but fear of flying is very real. You can’t just think or talk yourself out of it. My wife’s skin still gets cold and damp at the beginning of every flight; she still fears even thinking about getting on an airplane, but now she’ll still joinn me for a couple trips a year. We have plans for Europe and Australia – very long flights – and she’s ok with that.

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