Because I fly so much, I’ve mostly gotten over my fear of flying. But I also sit next to lots of people who are still concerned. This article VIA Daily Candy is for them:
You’d love to visit Bucharest. And Beijing. Oh — and Bahia. Too bad you’re deathly afraid to fly.
Chicken. (Well, you and about 54 million other Americans.) Flying is one of the safest forms of transportation — second only to the elevator and escalator. You’re more likely to get in a car crash, which makes the drive to the airport the most dangerous part of your flight. Of course, that doesn’t ease your dry sweats at check-in; vodka and Xanax will get you only so far. Time for better coping strategies.
*Opt for the biggest aircraft and a window seat close to the front (you’ll feel less turbulence).
*Tell the flight attendant and the pilot that you’re afraid. They’ll talk you through the weather, the equipment, and address specific concerns. (They’ve done it before.)
*When you do experience turbulence, roll with it. Literally: Sway with the movement of the plane.
*In-seat strategies: Breathe deeply and listen to calming music to block out minor sounds and annoying neighbors. Try herbal remedies. Use the airsick bag to prevent hyperventilation.
*Avoid caffeine but drink lots of water: Dehydration increases anxiety.
If you’re even more averse, the Achieving Comfortable Flight pack of booklets, tapes, and cards was created by a former pilot and a psychologist to teach you about the machinery (planes have back-up systems for nearly everything), pilot training (as intensive as a doctor), and storms (the FAA requires avoiding them by twenty nautical miles). You’ll also learn positive imagery techniques. Don’t laugh.
Download pilot and therapist Tom Bunn’s Soar podcast for tactics on conquering your fear of losing control. His soothing, paternal voice will have you gliding through check-in, turbulence, and landing. Want more attention? He also does weekly telecoaching and private consultations.
The Last Resort
For the truly terrified, the Fear of Flying Clinic offers training weekends (provided you can get there) with a pilot, flight attendant, airline mechanic, and air traffic controllers, all of whom explain safety, aerodynamics, and weather — much of it inside an airplane. Orientation flights are optional – and seriously helpful.
Now get your head in the clouds.