In 2012, we fly more than ever before. For some folks, an airplane is how they get to work each day. And while most people consider flying to another place as just a long car ride, it is a white-knuckle horror show for others. In fact, there are a lot of people who feel that way – USA Today recently reported that 26 million Americans are skittish about flying; that’s about eight percent of the population.
Fear of flying is actually kind of a smorgasbord of phobias, including claustrophobia, fear of flying and agoraphobia. Whatever the science behind it, some people just don’t like getting on planes, whether it’s for work or for vacation. And by the way, vacationing is supposed to be fun.
So here are some helpful hints to help those folks overcome their trepidation about being 30,000 feet in the air:
Before Your Trip
- Educate yourself. A lot of people who are afraid to fly simply can’t wrap their head around the notion that 358,000 pounds of steel can stay airborne. Learning a little about how an airplane works can help to alleviate anxiety. Search online to find out more about the specific model airplane you’ll be flying in so that you’ll be familiar with it when you board
- Choose an aisle seat. If claustrophobia is the source of your anxiety, an aisle seat can provide a more open feeling. And if you’re afraid of heights, it’s best to not have to look out the window.
- Be careful what you watch or read. Don’t drown yourself in horrifying tales or airborne disaster. And don’t watch these movies.
- Get to the airport early. Flying is a stress-filled activity, and running late and rushing through the airport will only elevate anxiety levels. Eliminate the worry and get there early.
On the Plane
- Ask to meet the crew. They’re busy getting ready for the flight so this won’t always be an option, but a quick meet-and-greet with the pilot, co-pilot and flight attendants can be very reassuring. Seeing their competence will give you confidence. If you’re not sure how to do that, check out the folks at FearOfFlying.com, who will write you a letter to hand to a flight attendant, requesting a meeting with the pilot.
- Bring some soothing sounds. Bring along an iPod, iPad or other device to play some music that will chill you out.
- Breathe deep. Deep breathing exercises really do help lower anxiety levels. In through the nose, nice and steady, out through the mouth.
- Entertain yourself. Bring something to read or watch on your tablet. Keep it light – think comedy, not tragedy.
And finally, most people will tell you to take a sedative or to just have a drink. But that’s not advice to be tossed around lightly.