Fear of flying – My 10 tips to manage anxiety in the air

Fear of flying – My 10 tips to manage anxiety in the air
22/10/2017 pilotpatrick
fear of flying no reason to panic

Hello my Aviator, it makes me really sad to hear that many of you are anxious to fly and can not enjoy traveling by plane! That is why I want to give you an update on my fear of flying blog post. I actually could write a whole book about this subject. I am passionate to help you to feel more comfortable. Hopefully, my 10 tips to manage this anxiety will help you! Let’s enjoy the beauty of flying together.

Thunderstorms inflight Cockpitview

Clouds are an indication for an area of turbulence

Fear of flying

In fact, a survey suggests that 43 percent of people have at least some fear of flying and around 9 percent are so afraid that they would not go on a flight. Now I understand why I receive so many comments and messages asking me what they can do against their fear of flying. In this article, I want to help you as much as possible to get over that fear which is also known as aviophobia. I hope that my personal words as a pilot are more persuasive than of a third person who is not involved in the aviation industry as much as I am.

fear of flyinig

Happy landings!

There is no reason to panic!

During my research for this blog post, I found out that the most common reason for the fear of flying is the fear to crash. Yes, there is a likelihood to crash, but this chance is vanishing low. You probably have heard about the statistics, but let me mention them again to get an idea how safe flying really is.

It is the safest means of transportation but also the most dangerous one at the same time.

Flying through the air with over 800 km/h with tons of ignitable fuel. In the first place, this does not sound really comforting. And because of that, we took all measures to make it to the safest way of travel.

The probability of your plane going down is around one in 5.4 million. (according to The Economist) It is more likely to be attacked by a shark or even killed by the flu. Traveling in a car is 100 times more deadly than flying in a plane. Despite the high profile plane crashes in the past, it has never been safer to fly.

fear of flying

Flying: the safest way of traveling!

Anxiety originates from ignorance!

I think the anxiety can originate from ignorance not understanding the complex system of aviation. This might trigger “what if?” catastrophic thoughts.

This starts with the ignorance of the systems of the airplane. Certain noises and normal flight maneuvers can already cause unease. For example noise of the brakes, landing gear, the flaps, and the engines. Especially during takeoff, you experience a lot of different ones. The engines run at a high thrust setting, the runway might a little bumpy and the landing gear retracts with a loud “bang”. Trust me all those noises are normal.  Maybe you feel more comfortable wearing noise-canceling headphones, which reduce background noise to a minimum. Most of you are scared of turbulences and think that they are dangerous. Please trust me they belong to the normal path of flight. Aircraft are built to withstand turbulence with ease.

Pilots always try to avoid turbulence and in case we encounter them we try to find a different level to escape the area of turbulence. This causes a spool up or down of the engines and a climb or descent to a different level.

The regulations in aviation are really strict. The authority requires that the aircraft are maintained at fixed intervals. Airlines could not afford to operate a badly maintained aircraft, which could cause them to lose their operator certificate (AOC) and of course their reputation.

pilot patrick cockpit private jet

Let’s enjoy the beauty of flying together

Redundancy in all aspects of aviation!

Even when there happens to be a malfunction of a system, that does not mean it will end in a disaster. The aircraft are built to be flying in the air and constructed to be redundant. That means if one system fails, the airplane will still be safe to fly and a different system will take over it. For example, if one engine fails, the second one will keep the airplane in the sky and a safe landing will be possible. This is trained on regular simulator flights many times.

Maybe you have heard about the swiss cheese model before. This model of accident causation illustrates that, although many layers of defense lie between hazards and accidents. Only if there is a flaw in each layer, if aligned, can allow the accident to occur. A single mistake in one layer will not lead to an accident.

fear of flyinig

Aircraft are made to be flying and not sitting on the ground!

My 10 tips against the fear of flying

  1.  Choose an airline you feel save with or you know they have a good reputation, do not book just because the ticket is cheap
  2. Arrive at the airport with enough time, so you do not get stressed additionally
  3. Book a seat with more space, e.g. at the emergency exit
  4. Try not to drink alcohol and caffeine this might intense your anxiety
  5. When boarding let the cabin crew know that you are a little bit nervous, a short chat with the pilots can help as well
  6. Recall that you are safe and probability is on your side
  7. Control your breathing inhale deeply and exhale slowly: Relaaaaax!
  8. Use noise-canceling headphones, recall that flying and systems produce loud noises, listen to relaxing music and do things that distract you
  9. You are not alone! Millions of people travel by plane at the same time
  10. Keep in mind that the airplane is built to travel through air, turbulence is a normal path of flying,
fear of flying

No reason to panic! The nearest exit may be behind you.

Am I going down?

I found an app “Am I Going Down?”, which claims to calculate the odds of a disaster on a particular flight. You put in three variables: the departure and arrival airports, the airline, and the type of plane used. For example, a flight from San Francisco to London Heathrow has a probability of 1 to 3.646.151 to go down. You would have to take this flight every day for 9.989 years before it crashes. Knowing the probability, which is not even worth mentioning for your particular flight, may help with your fear of flying.

I hope you will be more relaxed on your next flight, so you can enjoy the beauty of flying at the fullest. Recall my 10 tips when flying next time. You might even save them on your mobile device. Now sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!

What causes you unease on a flight?

Your Pilot Patrick

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33 Comments

  1. angelpmng 12 months ago

    Those tips are cute, must help a lot for those who are fear of flying 🙂 the only problem for me on flight is that I usually get ear pain before landing… do you also experience that?

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 12 months ago

      I hope they can help! No I do not. but on a smaller plane the difference in air pressure is less. So thats why it is more comfortable for your ears

  2. Dan Carpio 12 months ago

    Those were really nice tips… Something to consider for a next flight. Guess I’m from that small group of people who search for “accidents” or “turbulence” videos before a flight!!… Not a recommendation. lol.

    Noise canceling headphones and a good book should be a must (for those like me who are afraid of flying).

    Good post..!!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 12 months ago

      Thanks a lot Dan! noise canceling headphones are a most for every frequent flyer. so much more quality 🙂

  3. alifewithtrials 12 months ago

    These are brilliant tips, I have a friend that isn’t great on flying. I will definitely show them this post. I really dislike turbulences but thankful Ive never really ran into many on a flight.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 12 months ago

      Thanks a lot for your comment. I know turbulences are sometimes scary but trust me aircraft are build to cope with them with ease! Happy flying 🙂

  4. Joseph 12 months ago

    Hi pilot patric. What really scares me the most about flying is during take off. The plane feels like its landing when taking off. It feels like its dropping.. one day i was onboard qatar airways B777-300ER (my favourite airline) while descending it dropped very fast from 35000ft to 2000ft i thought we were going to crash. It felt like the pilot lost control of the aircraft.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 12 months ago

      Hello Joseph, thanks for your comment and sharing your experiences. Trust me he did not lose control of the airplane. The autopilot can handle turbulences, also quick descents, to a really high level. I wish you good flights.

  5. Astrid Bernier 12 months ago

    I love travel and i really love the airplanes but one of my dream is talk to a pilot before my flight maybe 5 minutes ahhahah so you gave me a big idea, i’m going to say that i’m a little nervous and i need please talk to the pilot for feel more safe ahhaha and obviously with a fearface hhahah I’m kidding mmmm but i’m gonna do it hahaha. Now talking seriously GREAT POST i was laugththing a lot while a readed. thanks

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 12 months ago

      Hello Astrid, thanks for your funny comment. I hope you will talk to nice colleagues of mine. 🙂

  6. leftbanked 12 months ago

    Hi I’ve followed you on instagram for a long time but this is my first time on your blog.. Your posts are very informative! This one especially.. I always get nervous about turbulence while flying.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 11 months ago

      That is amazing. Thanks for following. I hope you will be less nervous next time you are flying in turbulences. 🙂 Many greetings

  7. Jan Willem 11 months ago

    To be honest: I feel much saver and I’m more relaxed in a plane in the air then in a small car on the road! Like to fly, but I should do it more!

  8. rania 11 months ago

    Hey captain ! Your post is very interesting .. 🙂 I will do my best to stop thinking about crashes 🙂 train bus bicycle taxi …… are not safe too much ! but I always use them all time ” in Morocco” . I rarely take airplane
    Because i never had the opportunity to travel outside:-) also I have wrong ideas about airplane 🙁 . I’m going to read more about airplanes….. thanks captain

  9. Irene 11 months ago

    Hi Captain Patrick!

    Thank you for sharing the information with us! I used to have aviophobia, it was so bad but thank God it’s all gone now. I went to a psychiatrist and he helped me with some medicine, I also read a lot of information about flight, aviation etc to calm my mind, and listened to some meditation track before i took a flight and it helped a lot! From my experience, the fear of flight is only in my mind, that’s why i try to change my perspective to overcome my fear. The fear is unreal, it’s only our mind play tricks on us. I still feel a bit nervous before i take a flight but I usually listen to the music to calm me down and i always ask for the window seat near the wings bc it make me feel safe. Also I don’t need to take any medicine now 🙂 I hope my story can help others to overcome their fear as well. Thanks a lot for sharing with us! I really like your blog and instagram! I wish i have a chance to fly with you someday!
    Take care, Captain!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 11 months ago

      Hello Irene,
      thanks for sharing your interesting story! Makes me really happy to hear that you could overcome aviophobia and can now enjoy flying. With good help and training you can overcome any fear. Thanks for supporting my social media. Many greetings! Patrick

  10. Andrea Zander 10 months ago

    So…..wie “angedroht” meine Frage hier.
    Hi Patrick,
    ich war gerade auf deiner Homepage und habe den Artikel über Flugangst gelesen..guter Blog! ….leider war mein Punkt, der die Angst auslöst, nicht dabei….insofern wäre es interessant, mich nochmal mit dir zu unterhalten, weil mich diese Phobie wirklich einschränkt und ich so gerne wieder angstfrei fliegen würde. Mich fasziniert die Technik 🙂
    Vielleicht wäre das möglich 😉
    Möchte dich aber nicht nerven, bin ja nicht die einzige, die dich anschreibt.
    Wünsch dir einen tollen Abend und vll bis bald, Andrea

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 days ago

      Hallo Andrea,
      danke für Dein Kommentar und tut mir leid dass ich ihn damals nicht gleich beantwortet habe. Die Technik in einem Flugzeug ist sehr komplex. Ich kann dir aber versichern, dass die entscheidenen System die für den Flug wichtig sind redundant sind. Das heißt wenn z.B. im extrem Falls das linke Triebwerk ausfällt, dann kann mit dem rechten noch weiter geflogen werden und sicher gelandet werden.
      Lass es mich wissen wenn du noch Fragen hast.
      Happy landings
      Patrick

  11. Brian 10 months ago

    My fear of flying is has to do with giving up all control to the pilot. One has to trust the pilot with his life! If I were to fly on your plane Patric, I would trust you! But unfortunately, when I do fly you are NOT the pilot. I too have ear pressure issues due to often flying on smaller connecting flights. I wish I was less afraid because I love seeing new places!!

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 6 days ago

      Hello Brian, thanks for your comment and I am really sorry that I did not reply. Yes I can understand this fear. But keep in mind there are 2 pilots and they have to undergo extensive training. Plus flying is not that difficult. I hope that helps.
      Happy landings
      Patrick

  12. Gabriela Hgall 9 months ago

    I am not sure how I found you in IG, but I am glad I did. I was very nervous my flight from Berlin to Quito (UIO) for holiday, but thanks to this entry I could clear some questions and get at ease. Specially because the information comes from a Pilot. I’ve never been scared of flying but when I have to land in Quito I get paranoid. I guess is because of the excess of turbulence and these empty drops that one feels every time. I guess that is the price you have to pay if you want to land in 3000 m above sea level and surrounded by beautiful mountains. The landing was though but I survived haha. I remember this post before landing and decided to chill because it reminded I am in the hands of professionals. Keep up the good work. Cheers from Berlin!

  13. Bea 8 months ago

    I get dizzy. Well I did it. I read your post. Really, my problem isn’t that. I think that airplain are the most safe and confortable way for travel. I have panic to the height, any height, I’m a little woman 1,50 metres and I get dizzy when I fly. So… maybe I have to be strong and try it again and again… Anyway thanks for your tips, and sorry for my english. Nex time I’ll write you in spanish.
    Espero que seas feliz en tu nuevo trabajo. Hasta la próxima.

    • Author
      pilotpatrick 8 months ago

      Hola Bea,
      gracias para your comment. I am sorry that you are feared of heights. Maybe you should not be sitting at the window. But calm you down a former Captain of mine also had fear of heights and he was a pilot. I hope you get more and more comfortable flying.
      Happy landings without fear! Patrick

  14. Nitin 5 months ago

    Flying is the most scarist part of my life. Everytime i swear I do not fly again but I have to fly each 3 to 4 months. I remember how many times I make excises not to fly and cancelled n postponed my trips too. The vibration on plane floor, trumbling of chair, sound, inclined angle, tilt of plane. They all made me anxious. I always took handfull of medicines before flight. And whenever I see you using cell phones n camera taking pictures while flying also makes me worried besides height and speed.

  15. Paula 5 months ago

    Hi Patrick, it is my first time here in your blog although I have been following you on Instagram for a few months. I must say that I LOVE to fly and I am really looking forward to starting another journey by plane but, while reading your post I rememered something that happened to me last week traveling from Milan to Madrid in a B737-8AS. It is true that the flight had been strange since the beginning. First of all we flew with a company we were not comfortable with, but sadly it was not our choice. Then the atmosphere inside the plane was not so good, it was like we thought something was about to happen. Also, we had to had our seatbelts fasten during the whole flight due to turbulences (but, as I said I am crazy about planes and it was not a problem for me to stay calm). But finally, the weirdest thing of all, and what I wanted to ask you: when we were at around 8000ft, the pilot reduced the power of the engines until half its power or even less; everybody in the plane noticed that, so did I, that was sitting next to the left engine (during the flight, like a normal one we were hearing the engines but, at that moment, we did not hear anything, the plane was complete silent and no one explained us why, the situation continued until almost the moment of landing). So I wanted to ask you if it is normal for a pilot to reduce so much the power of the engines during a normal flight. Thank you for your attention and your posts. Hope to have you as a pilot in a flight. Greetings from Spain.

  16. Brian 5 months ago

    I do have a fear of flying. It’s because I am giving up control to someone I have never seen and know nothing about!!! Of course Patrick if you were my pilot I would not be afraid!

  17. Beata 1 month ago

    I know all this, because I read a lot, but the more I know, the more I fear. I’m afraid not to control the situation, I’m afraid of a fight, even your advice does not help. I’m afraid but still flying …

  18. Yuni Elfiera 1 month ago

    Here are some tips for reducing air pressure related problems:
    1. If you are concerned about the effect of low levels of oxygen in the blood due to a condition before flying, it is advisable to consult a doctor’s condition before traveling. 2. Avoid alcohol before flight, because it can cause changes in the body’s metabolic cells, causing the body difficulty absorbing oxygen. Alcohol can also cause the body to become dehydrated faster. 3. Avoid smoking a few days before the flight, because it can reduce blood oxygen levels up to eight percent, even before boarding the plane.
    I hope this tips can be enough to help someone if you want to travel by plane PilotPatrick

  19. UMI NADHIRA 1 month ago

    Hi my friend, thanks for the tips. I dont have fear to fly but not yet have a chance to fly. How pity! In my thought, we never know who the pilots who will fly us but how can we believe them?? Haha

  20. Siham 1 month ago

    Yor are amazing, go ahead.

  21. Maks 1 month ago

    Hey, Patrick! Thank you for sharing these tips. I find them very usefull. I have a little fear that sometimes i hear an unusual sound from the engine. It is like trtrrrtrrrt during take off usually. as soon as the plane reaches the altitude the sound stops. Is it okay for a plane? Because it is the only thing that makes me anxious. Thank you! Wish you safe flights and happy landings!✌

  22. Edna Lima 1 month ago

    Well, after explanation, Im more calmer…my fears were:turbulence, take off and landing. I am not an Angel but I Love this one in heaven… xoxo Blue angel

  23. Christina Ltw 4 weeks ago

    I agree with all tips except one: If you are someone who is really scared of flying, it would be of no good use to be sitting in the emergency exit rows. Seat with extra space and close to an exit, yes. But as a flight attendant I want and have to have people sitting at the emergency exits who feel physically and mentally fit to open that exit and assist with an evacuation in case of emergency (talking about Type 3 / Overwing exits). That is why we actually have to ask passengers in those rows if they feel like they are able to do so (“With great leg space comes great responsibility”) and if that’s not the case move them to a different row.

    Other than that I agree with everyting you said and definitely share your passion for flying – I actually want to try and become a pilot as well. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

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