For some travelers, flying is a frightening affair. Even though it’s a fact that airplane crashes are rare, no well-intended “But it’s never been safer to fly!” will truly comfort a scared passenger – fear doesn’t follow rationality or logic. Actually, it seems to be accompanied by a whole lot of irony: The fact that airplane crashes hardly ever happen is what makes them so scary in many people’s minds. But flying isone of the safest modes of transportation: In 2015, more than 3.5 billion passengers flew on 37.6 million flights, and there were only four fatal accidents.
To make sure that you don’t miss out on exploring and experiencing all that our wonderful world has to offer, here’s how to get rid of your fear of flying:
1. Do not fear turbulence
There’s both good and bad news: The bad news is that climate change will most likely increase turbulence, including the clear air turbulence that comes out of nowhere. The good news: Turbulence is only an inconvenience and not as dangerous as you think; in fact, planes shift only up to six meters during the shaking. Similarly, the wings will not break off – some of them can actually bend up to 90 degrees – and the plane will not suddenly flip on its back. Severe turbulence does cause injuries, however, so make sure you fasten your seatbelt whenever the seatbelt sign is turned on and whenever you’re seated.
2. Don’t worry about other scary things
Flying is like swimming: There’s a continuous stream of air, and holes or air pockets do not exist (only in the form of turbulence – see the point above). So, just like you cannot fall out of a lake or ocean, you cannot fall out of the sky. Worried about the engines? Airplane engines e are checked a lot, and even in the very rare case that they both happen to fail at the exact same time, a plane flying at about 30,000 feet can glide up to 100 miles without engines and attempt an emergency landing. Last but not least, if you’re scared of someone opening the doors mid-flight, fear no more: The doors are locked, and the pressure difference between the cabin and the outside prevent this urban myth from becoming a reality.
3. Download an app or two
For everything in life, there’s an app and the fear of flying is no exception: The SOAR app will support you before, during, and after the flight by providing videos, information about turbulence, a G-force meter, weather forecasts, videos and much more. If you’re a fan of statistics, check out the Am I Going Down app, which does exactly what the title promises: You type in your flight information and learn the likelihood of crashing. It might sound a bit morbid, but since crashes are extremely rare, seeing the odds can be helpful. To illustrate how encouraging the Am I Going Down app can be: If you flew from London to New York, the chance of crashing would be about 1 in over 5.3 million. To die in a plane crash on that exact route, you would have to fly every day for 14,716 years.
4. Distract yourself
The less time you spend worrying about risks, interpreting every noise, and watching the flight attendants’ every step, the better. Read, play games, watch all of the movies, and listen to your favorite music as much as you can. If none of that sounds appealing: Sleeping and eating are also good ways to make time fly by.
5. Practice relaxation exercises
Even if you’re not afraid of flying, the tiny seats and lack of legroom can make you feel stressed out, so relaxation and meditation exercises can be super useful. Give it a Google (or search in your App store) and download or print them so that you can practice away even during landing and takeoff. When the seatbelt sign is not on, make sure you stretch your legs (and other body parts) and walk around every now and then.
6. Tell the crew or your fellow passenger
Sometimes it can help to tell your immediate seat neighbors and the cabin crew that you’re scared. Mention what they can do to help you: Maybe you want to be left alone, need a reminder to take deep breaths, or prefer to have someone who can listen to what you’re afraid of. The flight attendants are experienced in supporting passengers with anxiety, but they might not be able to get up and help you during takeoff and landing. (That’s when the fellow passengers come in handy.)
7. Face the fear with professional help
Workshops and therapy sessions can help you tackle the problem of anxiety or claustrophobia with professional help. A lot of airlines do their part to support passengers in coping with the fear of flying by offering so-called exposure therapy: Passengers take classes that include behind-the-cockpit-door information and an actual flight. Sometimes facing the fear head on really is the best therapy.
8. Focus on what’s at the other end of it
Think of the amazing tapas spots you’ll discover in Barcelona, the delicious sushi you’ll devour in Tokyo, and the coffee you’ll sip while people watching in the heart of Notting Hill… It’s all at the other end of that journey you’re dreading, and will be – and you know this deep down already – more than worth it.