How to Overcome a Fear a Flying (Part 1)

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Planning a trip, packing a bag, and taking a flight somewhere new is one of the many joys of modern travel. It’s crazy to think that nearly all destinations on the planet are within one or a few day’s reach thanks to our friend, the airplane. Nowadays we can book a trip on Skyscanner or Kayak to a different country within a series of mouse clicks!

Despite air travel’s growing facility, there is something I need to get off my chest: 

I’ve been scared of airplanes for years. 

Even though I’ve had the privilege of flying on a somewhat regular basis in my life, the fear of flying has latched onto me like an unwanted invisible seat partner. 

My love of traveling luckily outweighs the angst I feel when boarding a plane. Over the past few years I’ve developed a few strategies to keep my emotions under control and I think they can help people out if they are experience their own trouble with flying.  

If you are someone who wants to travel but feels held back by their fear of planes, then this post is for you. Hopefully this post will provide some inspiration to help you feel free to travel wherever you want.

Below are some tips that anyone can carry out before they actually enter a plane. In my next blog post I’ll share strategies for remaining calm during a flight. 

Disclaimer: These tips do not guarantee that you’ll overcome a fear of flying, they are based on personal experience so use them at your own risk. These ideas should not replace advice from a licensed medical or psychiatric professional. I’m not a medical professional or phycologist, so consider getting expert attention if you feel it’s needed.

Take a look at what makes you scared:

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We can’t overcome our fear of flying without reflecting on what actually is the source of our worries. It may be hard, but we need to face our fear. Once we understand what it is and even why it exists, we can move forward. Maybe you saw a scary movie about planes or heard a story about a negative experience from a random person at a bar. Write down what worries you and try to dig as deep as you can to understand what you’re feeling.

Next we can see if this fear is realistic or not. I realized that most of the things I worried about were the result of my vivid and vastly exaggerated imagination. For example, the movie “Snakes on a Plane” was highly fictitious and it’s not possible to be ejected from a passenger jet (my personal farfetched fear). 

Know the facts:

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According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), approximately 2.9 million passengers fly in and out of United States airports per day. Additionally, there are 45,000 daily flights within the country. Research from Harvard University reports that the odds of dying in a plane crash are one in 11 million. The odds of dying in a car is one in 5 thousand. These numbers indicate that air travel is safe, and when I mean safe I mean really safe. Personally, knowing this information has been enough motivation for me to continue using them.

Reserve a flight based on comfort level:

Now that we have addressed our fears and have established that flying is safe, it’s time to book a flight. A few ways to ease the experience of flying are:

  • Choose an airline you trust, preferably one that is larger with more routes.
  • Fly direct if it’s not too expensive.
  • Avoid small airports if possible.
  • Elect seats based on numbers you feel are lucky or have an affinity towards. For example, I love the number 9 so I tend to go with that whenever it’s available. 
  • Choose a takeoff time where you feel safest.
  • Be aware of the weather forecast to reduce turbulence.

Visualize your destination:

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Once we begin planning a vacation, whether it’s an hour away or across the planet, it’s useful to begin picturing what we want the trip to be like. What feelings will we have? What will we do? How will the food taste? I try to do this prior and during a flight. Creating the journey in our minds not only takes our thoughts away from what worries us (flying) but it also brings us closer to achieving those desired outcomes.

Bonus: Fly with someone you trust:

We don’t always have the opportunity to plan a trip with another person, but having someone next to you on the flight can increase one’s comfort level. There have been many moments in my life where I was able to overcome a phobia or fear just because a friend was there for support. Traveling with someone who loves flying or at the very least doesn’t mind it will make the journey more bearable.

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Thank you for reading this blog! I hope you’ve found this information useful. My next post will tackle ways we can overcome a fear of flying during the trip (on the airplane). Before I say farewell, I’d like to hear from you!

Which airline is your “go-to” for domestic and international travel? Also, what are your tricks for mentally preparing for a trip?

Have a fantastic day!

-Daniel

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