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  • Writer's pictureNina Price

Fear of flying tips

Updated: May 22

Fear of flying 

Aerophobia, or a fear of flying as it is known affects 1 in 10 of us and 24% of us in the UK have apparently experienced some form of anxiety around flying. We all have different reasons for being anxious when flying but there are things that you can do to help calm and manage the situation. 

Bad turbulence, claustrophobia, a lack of control over your own safety, a big fear around take off or landing are just a few things that can be experienced when flying.

A person who has aerophobia may not only experience fear, panic and anxiety when they are on an airplane, but they may also experience anticipatory fear in the lead-up to flying. This can be in any form including sweating, increased heart rate, feeling dizzy or sick, sweaty palms and many more symptoms.

From my own perspective, although I have always flown I have a fear of flying in the form of mid air turbulence. I don't mind take off, landing, being on a plane or anything to do with its mechanics, it’s purely mid air turbulence.

I've not always been like this, I didn’t have any issue about flying, being the plane, big, small, jet or propeller until a trip back from Bermuda in 2013.

On this particular flight across the Atlantic at Xmas time the weather was incredibly bad and we were flying through a storm for most of it. At the time I had no issue with the turbulence and helped others who sat near me who were scared. Not going into details but it was the worst flight I had ever been on and I think I will ever endure again and so far I am pleased to say it hasn't. So logically one very bad flight in 30 plus years of flying.

From this experience I noticed that the next time I was flying I was getting very nervous when there was a slightest bit of movement, small enough not to even have the seat belt signs on. My fear progressively got worse so if a seat belt sign did come on I would panic even more and the smaller the plane the worse I got.

This never stopped me from flying but it certainly made trips less pleasant for me so I have tried and still try to manage the fear. I am much better but I still have moments and I especially over think flying in winter over mountains or on smaller planes.

So, what can be done and what have I tried to help with this fear?

So, what can be done and what have I tried to help with this fear?

Learn about the aircraft

Many people fear the unknown or fear something going wrong with the aircraft. Learning about how airplanes work, why turbulence happens, the safety features and mechanisms of a plane and what you can expect during the flight.

Stay calm, deep breaths and try to relax

This is a hard one for me as I struggle with this, but it does work. Deep breathing is an effective way of lowering stress and relieving tension in your body. This is because it sends a message to your brain to relax and calm down.

Don’t google about plane accidents or turbulence

Hearing negative stories about flying or airplanes or watching a news channel, film or TV show where they are portrayed negatively or where there are scenes involving frightening incidents do not help. These scenarios only add to the fear that your brain already has.

Try to get a seat that you prefer.

If you prefer an aisle, window, at the front or near the wing, then try to check in as soon as the airline allows and reserve this seat. Some airlines already ask you for a preference alongside your personal details so make sure you put this down to have the best chance of sitting where you can.

Make yourself comfortable and distract yourself

Short or long haul it’s important to be comfortable on the plane. Take anything with you that you need to make the journey smoother, a pillow, water, headphones,book, anything that will help you manage the situation.

Choose a day time flight

If you need to look out of the window then this is a better time than flying at night so you can visualise where you are and what the weather is doing


I am not saying that this is the way forward but some might like to speak to their doctor about getting medication to help calm anxiety or nausea from flying. Alternatively I know lots of people (and myself) find that a glass or two of wine on the plane or before can calm the nerves a bit. It’s just important not to overdo it as altitude can cause different effects to the volume of alcohol you drink. Also this is not an option if you have work or plan to drive at the other end.


CBT Cognitive behavioral can help treat  the fear of flying. CBT is an approach that focuses on changing the negative thoughts that contribute to fearful behaviors, helping you to deal with the situation in hand in a calmer way

Look at the wing

This might not be for everyone but it works for me. If there is turbulence then if I look at the wing I can see that actually the plane really isn’t moving much. This helps to rationalise that the plane is hardly moving, to what I think it is

Rest easy that the plane door won’t open during flight. 

You can also curb any fears that a plane door can open during the flight. The doors are designed to open inward first so that the cabin pressure has to be overcome before the doors can be opened.

Get hypnotised

Once again, this method is not for everyone but I have done this twice. Did it work, yes, but I also did it at a time when I was not flying so much so my brain forgot how to calm itself down. This is not for everyone, but it’s worth a try

Fear of flying courses

Lots of airlines these days have courses and even end with a short flight to help your fear. They cover all aspects of the plane and the flight to help you logically understand that it’s ok to fly.

Speak to the cabin crew.

The cabin crew and pilot  can help you and calm you down, introduce yourself and you can explain your fears to them and they will be able to help. Pilots have to have  several hundred hours of experience in the air. They'll need to log 1,500 flight hours just to apply to work at a major airline, so you are in safe hands

There are lots of things you can do to help with your fear of flying, it’s not worth missing out on your favourite trip or a holiday letting a fear win. Remember, always keep the seat belt on just in case.

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