How To Cope With Fear of Flying

As a traveler, you would have had multiple accounts of flight turbulence. Even though I love riding airplanes, turbulence is the one thing that always keeps me away from them. I know so many people who have a fear of flying, and I myself have had a phase a few years back. After over 30 flights, I’ve come up with a few things you could do when you are scared in an airplane.

before the ride

Though what you do on the plane is very important, preparing yourself to have a breakdown before you board is a great way to cope with your fear. Whether it is to say a religious prayer, take sleeping pills, or even stretch, do something that will calm you down before boarding.

define your fear

To most people who fear flying, most say that they are afraid of crashing. However, only a minority of them actually fear legitimate death. Majority fear crashes because they imagine the worst scenarios. They imagine every single scene of what would happen if the plane crashes, not the crash itself.

stay distracted

I have to say, this isn’t the best answer out there. When you’re scared, nothing comes in your mind and you just blank out. You start imagining the worst cases possible, like I said above. When this happens, try your best to stay distracted. Whether it is listening to music, trying to fall asleep, or even focusing on your plans after landing helps. I know that doing this will be very hard, as I have had many cases when I failed to do so. However, focusing on the flight itself worsens your condition and makes the fear even more severe.

take deep breaths

Don’t focus on the turbulence, focus on the rhythm of you breaths. Breath in and out very slowly, but consistently. Similar to staying distracted, you should put your focus to your breaths, not the shakes around you. Because I am not knowledgable in dealing with anxiety, I recommend talking to a professional if your conditions are severe.

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ask for help

Whether it’s your friend, parents, or even a flight attendant, search for help. They might not be able to take away your fear, but talking to someone else and receiving comfort sometimes help your mental state, and allows you to focus on your conversation with them.

some tips you can apply now

1. find seats in the wings of the plane

It is a known fact that seats next to the wings of the plane receive less turbulence than other seats. Try your best to avoid sitting in the tails of the airplane.

2. inform the cabin crew

Tell the cabin crew about your fear and let them find a seat that is most comfortable for you, or give you any distractions possible. I used to receive anything from coloring books to chocolate bars, and even a stuffed animal. However, don’t use this to the advantage of getting free stuff (I have seen some parents do this).

3. remember that you’re safer in an airplane than in a car

This might be a stretch, but compared to a million chances you may get into a car accident, airplanes can withhold so much more than a minor turbulence. Remember that anything that could happen in an airplane could happen in a car, but with an airplane, the changes are much less.

I seriously hope that these few tips help you to cope your fear of airplanes. Though I am fine with airplanes now, I once had a time when I had to take sleeping pills on the airplane all the time to avoid experiencing the in-flight turbulences. I know that fearing airplanes is the one big thing that could stop you from traveling, but don’t give up the opportunity of experiencing the world because of it!

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  • Really good tips. I also find helpful to read a book or an article. The best is with a real book, because even the act of holding it and turning the pages, is actually a tiny distraction.

  • I am very afraid of heights, stairs etc, and know one day to get to England I will have to fly or take a very long cruise to get there. Thank you for posting this.

  • I love flying, but hate the turbulence! I recently took a trip to Denver and experienced some of the worst turbulence ever. It also doesn’t help when the flight attendants are new and start freaking out. Thanks for sharing your tips!

  • I’m not really afraid of flying… I just find I don’t like it. I mean, I’ll do it-it’s the easiest way to go long distances, but it’s just not my favorite. It’s uncomfortable, stuffy, and soooo expensive. I kind of dread it. It doesn’t really help that I’m overweight so it’s extra uncomfortable. Need to get my butt in gear-literally.

  • Great suggestions! I have a bit of anxiety sometimes when flying, and found myself on a turbulent flight once. I had been chatting with the person next to me, and it really did make things much better. It was a great distraction, and a nice conversation, too!

  • Thank you for your post. I HATE flying and I have to take a flight in the next few months. Your tips are wonderful and I am pinning too. I think for me it is the control factor not the actual flying:)

  • I’m certainly not afraid to fly but I do have to admit sometimes I do get a little nervous or anxious. But that’s really because of just the stress of traveling and being in close quarters with so many people but I definitely prefer to fly than drive when I need to travel

  • Great tips! I never used to be afraid of flying. But over the past two years I have experienced some pretty terrifying turbulence, which has now caused me to be scared of flying. I am constantly bracing myself for turbulence, and every little bump in the air makes me panic. These tips will surely help me next time! Cheers, Michelle 🙂

  • These are really great tips! I have been flying for work trips since I graduated undergrad, and before I started to travel more I was very, very anxious. Finding a seat at the wings of the plan is my go-to, and I also am a frequent Southwest Airlines customer. I find that their flight crews consistently will inform passengers of bad weather/turbulence, and my anxiety during trips is almost gone. Wonderful tips here!

  • I am also really scared of flying despite loving to travel! I’ve used a couple of these strategies and distracting yourself is definitely one of the best methods! I usually talk to my neighbor, book a window seat, or avoid flying alone. My husband is so comfortable in planes and makes the best flying partner!

  • I can get nervous while flying, but nothing compared to when I had full-on horrible anxiety while and before flying. I even avoided flying for years, missing out on some life events, travel, etc. I tried medication, and it didn’t really help. The ONLY thing that has helped me was going to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. These tips are good, but if you have real anxiety, you need exposure and practice to overcome your fears in an intentional way. If there is anyone reading this that needs that kind of help, please look for a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy practitioner in your area. It is tremendously helpful. I can fly now. I’ve learned tools to help my anxiety so I am not anxious anymore, just a bit nervous. It’s a huge improvement.

  • In my normal life, I try to do things natural as opposed to using drugs. But on a plane, I use anti-anxiety meds. There’s no way I’m flying without them. And if I can, I like listening to music during takeoff and landing. That way I don’t hear all the “concerning” sounds like the wheels going in and out. And, of course, it distracts me. I know that flying is pretty safe. But being out of control makes it feel more scary.

  • I definitely appreciate this post 🙂 I used to have anxiety on planes but it got better over the years especially with getting distracted with other things.

  • I love this post it has some great tips and i saw it just in time for me, i’m doing just under a 8 hour flight from London to Toronto tomorrow night, i’ve done 3 flights before now but one was when i was much younger but i didn’t have the fear as much then but now 13 years on and after watching air crash investigation i do, but that was before i met my now partner so didn’t think i’d be getting on a plane again back then.

    • I am happy that these tips helped Diana! It’s always inspiring to hear stories from people who used to fear flying but have overcome their fear:)

  • I really struggle with this and find the best way to cope is definitely to distract myself, meditate to keep my mind off things and definitely studying facts. I always look at the safety facts of the airline and just general statistics and remind myself every time it comes back in to my mind.

  • I am going to write a similar post to this soon! I have a horrible fear of flying yet I’ve flown on too many planes to count at this point. It never really leaves me {the fear} but I’ve definitely learned to cope. I agree with all of these!

  • when I was a flight attendant, I used to see people with fly phobia all the time. A few times, I even held the hand of a passenger during landing. :)…Lots of people are afraid of flying and it is only natural because the feeling of flying is alien to most people and they don’t feel comfortable in the air. What I would recommend to anyone is to study the facts. Flying is one of the safest ways to travel! Road traffic is much more dangerous and a person is more likely to get killed driving to airport than actually taking a flight. Anyway, I do like your tips. It is always a good idea to take a deep breath…and distracting ourselves can work great too.

  • I’m flying across the world next month (crazy I’ve been planning this trip for SO long, and it’s already here) and I’ve never been on a plane for that long and distance. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, but once the plane is in the air, I look for any distraction to keep my mind at ease.

    McKenzie |