There are many solutions to the fear of flying. If, like one in five passengers, you experience a certain level of anxiety during flights, this page is for you. We take a look at the best advice and solutions for fear of flying, from quick tips to the most effective methods for getting rid of it forever!
6 quick tips to take the fear out of flying
- Choose your seat when booking
- Getting to the airport earlier
- Sleep well, eat well and stay hydrated
- Notify on-board personnel immediately upon boarding
- Dealing with turbulence
- Stop focusing on accidents
Choose your seat when booking
The first piece of advice against fear of flying is to choose your seat as soon as possible, when you book your ticket. The choice of seat is a matter of personal preference: aisle, window or between two passengers...
The aisle is often preferred if your fear of flying is linked to a mild form of claustrophobia: it's the side that allows you to get out whenever you want, to stretch your legs or go to the toilet. In general, we recommend choosing seats at the front of the plane: this is where turbulence is least felt (which is why it's first class!).
But whatever your choice, reserving a seat in advance gives you control over the first element of a flight: where you're going to sit. It's a little extra to help you make the moment your own, and look forward to your plane journey with greater peace of mind.
Getting to the airport earlier
Our second tip against fear of flying is to arrive at the airport well in advance. This extra time will enable you to stay calm in the event of setbacks at check-in, baggage drop-off, security gates or boarding.
What's more, this pre-flight time is an opportunity to contemplate the activity in the airport and on the tarmac. Take the opportunity to get up close to the windows and watch the ballet of planes taking off and landing. You'll see that no aspect of aviation safety is left to chance, and that everything is perfectly under control.
Sleep well, eat well and stay hydrated
We also recommend preparing for the flight with a good night's sleep, whenever possible. On the day of your flight, eat a healthy diet and avoid untimely snacking. And don't drink too much coffee or chocolate! Finally, don't forget to keep well hydrated before and during the flight, as cabin air is drier.
Warn flight personnel before take-off
Flight attendants are trained to do just that! They'll be able to advise you on how to avoid anxiety when flying. Don't hesitate to let them know once everyone has found their seat, simply by saying «I'm sometimes afraid of flying» or «let me know if there's turbulence». They'll do everything they can to reassure you and help you have a pleasant flight!
Dealing with turbulence
The most useful advice against fear of flying is to debunk unfounded fears. Like urban legends, they have a hard life! The most widespread are air holes and turbulence, supposedly a threat to the plane's integrity.
This is not the case: turbulence, even severe turbulence, is part of normal flying conditions. There's no risk to the cockpit or on-board instruments! Aircraft are designed to withstand them. It's just a bit of wind, without any danger. As for air holes, they don't exist! In short, if you experience turbulence during the flight, tell yourself it's perfectly normal.
Stop focusing on plane crashes
There have never been so few plane accidents in relation to the number of flights. The average is around one accident for every 7 million flights, and it should be added that most accidents are not fatal! Progress in air safety is such that winning the lottery is more likely than having an air accident.
Despite this, the rare accidents that do occur are widely reported in the media. While cars and bicycles are infinitely more dangerous, news channels and specialist websites act as a magnifying glass. If you're predisposed to fear of flying, we advise you to avoid alarmist discourse at all costs, preferring the opinions of IATA or experts to documented, measured advice.
Fear of flying solutions
- Fear of flying courses
- Airplane medication
- Relaxation and cardiac coherence exercises
These 6 tips against fear of flying may be useful, but they can't cure every fear of flying. Fear of flying is different for every passenger. It stems from different causes, and expresses itself to varying degrees. If your level of anxiety about flying is close to phobia or panic, the above recommendations may not be enough.
Don't worry, there are still plenty of ways to overcome your fear of flying! Everyone can be cured of their fear of flying, no one is incurable. All you need to do is find the right method, which is why we've listed below a selection of the best solutions for overcoming fear of flying.
Fear of flying courses
We start this list with the most effective solution to fear of flying, by far. There are several courses available worldwide to help you overcome your fear of flying. Some are offered by airline pilots or flight attendants, others by the airlines themselves. They may involve psychologists and offer an approach more or less focused on your own problem.
The advantage of these courses is that they boast very high success rates: at fofly.com, over 95% of participants manage to get back on the plane without any problems.
The best training courses combine psychology (or more precisely cognitive-behavioral therapies), knowledge of aviation safety and practical application. We learn, for example, that aircraft are fitted with safety systems offering triple or quadruple security. What's more, they are inspected in detail before every flight: if they take off, it's because everything is in perfect order!
Medication to combat fear of flying should be used in moderation, and only with a doctor's prescription! We advise you to avoid self-medication, which could aggravate certain symptoms on board.
Medication can provide a solution to the fear of flying by acting as a tranquilizing factor. Antihistamines are the most common: as anti-motion sickness drugs, they help prevent nausea.
On the other hand, if your fear of flying is stubborn, tranquilizer-type drugs will only be a crutch to get you to your destination. They should be avoided in the long term, as they can mask the problem - and delay recovery even further.
Relaxation and cardiac coherence exercises
Relaxation exercises are often part of the therapeutic toolbox for treating anxiety. They are a real solution to the fear of flying when it is expressed in mild to advanced degrees. Indeed, anxiety is also fuelled by the warning signals your body sends you, rightly or wrongly. Relaxation exercises help to control these signals and restore calm.
In particular, cardiac coherence exercises are a real solution to fear of flying. By helping to control stress, they can be used on board as well as at home, or in any anxiety-inducing situation.
Hypnosis, a solution for fear of flying
Hypnosis is frequently mentioned as a solution for fear of flying. It's a very interesting therapy that can have excellent results - if the patient is receptive to hypnosis. It is advisable to choose the right hypnotherapist, with experience in dealing with fear of flying, and if possible a doctor. In the best-case scenario, 3 to 4 sessions are enough to get rid of the fear of flying, especially with the age-regression technique.
Homeopathy is one of the easiest solutions to fear of flying. That said, its effectiveness has not been scientifically proven. However, it should not be dismissed: as an alternative medicine, its soothing effects are useful in the mildest cases. For others, we recommend other, more effective solutions.