July 15, 2019 | Abby Caviness
Everyone is afraid of something, and fear tends to get in the way of people doing things they enjoy and things that could make them more successful. For example, if someone is afraid of spiders, they may be hesitant to go hiking or camping, and if they fear failure, they may steer clear of taking risks. Some individuals have a fear of flying (aviophobia), which can keep them from experiencing parts of the world inaccessible by car. However, fears can be conquered by taking a few steps to ease your nerves. To help, USHEALTH Group® is providing a few tips to ease flight anxieties and overcome aviophobia so you can broaden your horizons!
A fear of flying—aviophobia—is pretty common and also very manageable.1 According to a 2014 YouGov survey, one third of Americans admitted to being anxious about flying, while 16 percent said they are too afraid to fly. However, there are some key points people should be aware of to help them feel better about this mode of transportation.1
- Flying is one of the safest ways to travel
- Fear of flying can sometimes be due to other related phobias, like fear of heights
- Treatment options include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)
- There are ways to plan a trip to minimize the impact of aviophobia
According to the International Civil Aviation Organization’s latest safety report, there were only 92 commercial airlines accidents out of 33 million estimated flights worldwide in 2015.2 However, only six of those accidents were fatal. Compare this number to the 32,166 fatal car accidents in the U.S. alone reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 20153—you can see the significant difference in safety.
However, while the numbers are promising, some individuals are still not convinced. So, keep reading to find out some ways you can begin boarding planes with confidence!
Tips for overcoming your fear of flying can be sectioned off into three categories: Before you fly, at the airport, and on the plane. There are steps you can take before you leave the ground that can help ease your anxieties, as well as things you can do while you are airborne. Implementing some of these tips can help you stay calm and keep you anxiety at bay on your next great adventure!
Before you fly
If your anxiety stems from not knowing what is going to happen before, during, and after your flight, doing some research before your trip can make all the difference. This research can include what the airport looks like, what the inside of your plane looks like, and some basic tips for getting through security without a hitch. In addition, here are some more steps you can take:4
- Familiarize yourself with your plane and your airport
- Pack all the things you might need on your flight in a carry-on back
- Choose an aisle seat, especially if you are claustrophobic
- Avoid airplane disaster movies, negative news coverage, and other scary media
- Think positive
Making sure you do your research before the flight can help to ensure you are not surprised by anything on your trip, which could trigger anxiety. So, once you feel you are completely prepared for your trip, what else can you do to ease your fears once you reach the airport?
At the airport
Airports can sometimes be very overwhelming, especially international airports in major cities. However, if you have done your proper research before you even reach the airport, you should be able to get through security and find your gate with ease. So, here are some additional ways to remain calm while you navigate your way to the gate:4
- Get there early and take your time
- Wait for your flight in an airport lounge
- Distract yourself with reading or music
- Grab a snack and drink some water
Waiting to board your flight can be the moment all your anxiety can begin to rush to the forefront of your mind. Remembering these tips to keep you calm can ensure you are at ease when it is time to board the plane. Then, when you finally board the plane, find your seat, and stow away your belongings, you will be ready and relaxed for take-off. Still, aviophobia can creep up on you if you are not prepared once the plane lifts off. So, how can you combat this anxiety while you are up in the air?
On the plane
Once you have boarded the plane and are sitting safely in your seat, you can now take some additional actions to maintain the relaxation your created before stepping foot on the plane. For example:4
- Meet the crew
- Listen to music
- Take deep breaths
- Read or watch a movie
- Avoid caffeine
- Turn on the air vents above you
Each of these actions should help you to relax and get comfortable in your seat. In addition, if there are other activities you enjoy and you can take on the plane, have those items packed in your carry-on and ready to go when you need a good distraction. You know yourself, your mind, and your body better than anyone else, so you know what steps will work best for you. If that step gets you where you want to go in a healthy manner, go for it!
Airplane rides do not have to be scary or stressful—though a mind consumed with aviophobia will be hard to convince. However, taking some extra steps to keep yourself calm on your flight will help you to be more open to trips in the future and even more adventures. So, start facing your fears and taking care of your anxieties—the world is waiting for you!
*This material is provided by USHEALTH Group for informational/educational purposes only and should not replace medical/clinical advice or direction from your health care provider.
- Cowley, Goretti, “Fear of flying (aviophobia): How to defeat it,” MedicalNewsToday.com, last modified July 18, 2017, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/10609.php
- International Civil Aviation Organization, “Safety Report,” International Civil Aviation Organization, accessed July 8, 2019, https://www.icao.int/safety/Documents/ICAO_SR%202016_final_13July.pdf
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Department of Transportation Quick Facts 2015,” U.S. Department of Transportation, last updated May 2017, https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812348
- Schlichter, Sarah, “18 Tips to Overcome Your Fear of Flying,” SmarterTravel.com, published February 4, 2019, https://www.smartertravel.com/fear-flying-18-ways-cope/