Fear of Flying
How do I get over my fear of flying?
Learn about the technicalities of flying – there are some great books to help. Look at ways to reduce your anxiety in the build up to flying, in the airport, or on the plane. Consider taking a fear of flying course.
My fear of flying was so bad that for many years it stopped me flying at all.
I am sharing everything that helped me deal with my fear of flying in the hope that they help you too.
1. Fear of Flying – Fly Without Fear Book
I found reading Fly Without Fear, written by a pilot, very helpful. It explained the mechanics of flying in a very easy to understand way. It also covered detail about the likelihood of things actually happening, like turbulence for example.
This helped me understand some of the noises you can hear such as the undercarriage going up after takeoff which I found reassuring.
(Some airlines on long haul flights have things you can listen to or watch on their entertainment system. Years ago I listened to the Qantas service which talked through what was happening, in as close to real time as possible, when taking off and landing. Again very helpful to understand the noises.)
For understanding more about how flying actually works I found this book and these commentaries a real fear of flying help!
Get your copy now and start reading up and learning about planes and flying – it’s very reassuring.
2. Fear of Flying – Choosing Your Own Seat
As with many things in life, not knowing what is going to happen, can cause anxiety.
The thought of boarding a plane is stressful enough for anyone nervous or anxious about flying. Not knowing where you are sitting can just increase that anxiety.
On budget airlines, you may well have to pay a fee to book your seat in advance, but I would highly recommend this.
Knowing where you are sitting on the plane can really help to reduce nerves.
Window seats are not always ideal if you are a nervous flyer. Likewise quieter areas of the plane, such as the rear section might be better too. Often booking your seats online gives you an idea of how busy the plane might be.
Booking seats within close proximity of the emergency exits can help reduce anxiety too.
3. Fear of Flying – Upgrade Your Airport Experience with a Lounge
Airports can be noisy and busy places. When you are feeling nervous about flying this noise and activity can heighten your fears and worries.
It can be difficult to find somewhere quiet in an airport sometimes, especially if there are lots of announcements.
It can also be difficult to find a comfortable seat, unless perhaps you are in a cafe/restaurant too.
Upgrading your airport experience by buying airport lounge access can be a great way to make your visit to the airport feel more relaxing.
Not only are airport lounges quieter, but they are also generally more comfortable. They usually have good WIFI meaning you can distract yourself with some work or browsing too.
Let’s not forget the snacks and refreshments – another great way to take your mind off your nerves!
I would highly recommend considering an airport lounge for your first visit to an airport if you are feeling nervous. After that, the choice is yours, depending on the timings and where you are flying.
Airport lounge access does involve a cost, but again it doesn’t need to huge.
Check out the my post on cheap airport lounges to find the cheapest way for you to access a lounge.
4. Fear of Flying – Having Essentials Handy
A great way to help your nerves is to ensure that everything you might think you need during your flight is easily at hand.
This can be especially true if you haven’t flown for a while or perhaps taking your first flight.
These tips apply for short and medium haul flights.
For me, my plane stuff includes the following;
- Chewing gum – to help deal with ears popping in flight
- Tissues – because the air conditioning can cause sniffles
- Headphones – for blocking out noise
- Tablet – for watching something interesting that I have downloaded in advance
- Reading material – an actual book or magazine just in case of technical issues
- Medication – inhalers if you suffer from asthma for example, and prescribed medication so there is no danger of losing it in case your luggage goes missing (if you check in any luggage)
- Snack/drink – depending on the flight and what might be available
If you book an emergency exit seat because you want extra legroom to be aware that you cannot have anything in or around your seat during takeoff and landing. This includes underseat bags.
5. Fear of Flying – Your Own In Flight Entertainment
Having a great playlist can help deal with inflight nerves, particularly when taking off or landing.
Why not make up a special playlist of your favourite tunes? I love listening to ‘Leaving on A Jet Plane’ when taking off!
You may like something relaxing – Ludovico Einaudi is a favourite of mine for relaxing.
Similarly, a good audiobook or podcasts can help keep your mind on something else.
Why not download a film or program that you have been wanting to watch for a while?
Again it is a great way to keep busy enough not to have enough time for nerves.
6. Fear of Flying – Have A Low Tech Entertainment Backup
Having some sort of backup in case of technical issues can be extremely handy.
Why not treat yourself to an interesting magazine or book at the airport?
Or why not take along something you have been wanting to read for a while?
If your plane has to make an all instrument landing, generally because of fog, the captain may ask that all electronic devices are completely switched off.
This is where having something to read can come in handy for taking your mind off what’s happening.
7. Fear of Flying – Have Good Headphones
Planes can be really noisy places and those noises can be quite worrying/distracting, especially if you are trying to deal with nerves or anxiety.
Having a pair of headphones that blocks out some of the noise can really help.
That might be in earbuds or over the ear headphones.
If you want to go the whole hog you can get noise cancelling headphones – these are generally quite a bit more expensive.
Being able to focus on the sounds coming through your headphones will help you focus your mind and avoid those nerves more easily.
8. Fear of Flying – Take Stress Free Luggage
Flying on a plane can be stressful enough, without worrying about whether your luggage will be anywhere near you on the plane.
My top tip would be to have a bag/case that fits in the seat underneath you.
This way you can keep everything close by and get to it during take off and landing if you need to.
There is also no stress/panic about trying to find overhead locker space when you board as well. This means you can board whenever suits you, instead of having to board earlier to try and find locker space.
If you are travelling on an Easyjet flight you can take an underseat case for free, check out my guide to Easyjet baggage rules.
If you are looking for an underseat case that works on Easyjet then check out my Underseat Case post.
9. Fear of Flying – Make Use Of Helpful Airports and Flight Crew
If you let airports and crew know that you are nervous they will often do their best to help you. Let me give you a few examples.
My First Flight in Many Years
My fear of flying was so bad that for about 10 years of my life I simply would not fly. However, eventually, I knew I had to fly. I started with some short haul flights to build my confidence.
On my first flight the crew could see I was nervous. They were lovely, brought me a cup of tea and invited me to meet the pilot once we were at cruising altitude. (Yes it was a long time ago!)
Airport Pre Flight Visit
My nephew has Aspergers and was really nervous about flying. We got in touch with Inverness Airport and they invited him to come for a look round. He got to learn how the airport worked, to go out onto the apron and hear the pilots talking and much more.
On his first flight he boarded via the ambulift and was so busy pressing the buttons he didn’t have time to be nervous.
His first flight was such a success that he has flown since without any special requirements or adjustments.
Airport Lanyard Schemes
Many airports have a scheme where any traveller who needs extra help or assistance can get a lanyard. This might be because you need more time boarding a flight for example. It might be because you have additonal needs such as my nephew and his Aspergers.
We used the lanyard scheme at Gatwick airport. Despite the airport being really busy we were able to use the much quieter family security area. All the airport staff, ground and flight crew were really helpful, giving my nephew the confidence to get on the plane.
Fear of Flying – Fear of Flying Course
There is an Easyjet Fearless Flyer course.
There is a great website packed with information and options including ebooks, webinar options and online courses.
I have heard good things about these courses, with fellow flyers being supportive of each other.
It may be something that will help you with your fear of flying.
If you found my tips for fear of flying article useful you might like;
Airport Lounge Membership Comparison – find the cheapest way to access an airport lounge
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