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Photo by Steve-h

Has flying kept you from exploring the world? Here’s some easy ways to help you get over your fear.

FOR YEARS, I FOUND excuses not to travel out of the country. It cost too much. I had to finish my education. I simply couldn’t go when the weather was cold.

The truth of the matter, however, was that I was afraid to fly.

This went on until my desire to explore the world overpowered my innate fear of rising above the clouds in a steel soda straw. So I had a few martinis and hopped on a flight out of the United States.

I realized I had nothing to fear after all. Since that first triumph, I’ve become an avid overseas traveler. Still, every time I fly I find myself nervous. I’ve picked up a few tricks to alleviate my fear of flying.

Here are five tips that will help those who suffer from similar anxiety.

1. Know what to expect
Familiarize yourself with the sights and sounds of flying. Understand the bumps and movements of an airplane.

Without knowing what to expect at the airport and on the flight itself, your mind tends to wander.

Familiarize yourself with the sights and sounds of flying. Understand the bumps and movements of an airplane.

Getting an idea of what flying is actually like beforehand will help you form a realistic notion of what you’re experiencing during take-off or when the plane hits turbulence.

Talk to friends who have flown. Ask them to describe the process from start to finish. Question them about turbulence. Do they have a “bad turbulence” story? Chances are that they do. Then, realize they are still here to tell you the story. is a wonderful site that is loaded with free content. You can listen to the sounds of every aspect of flying – from engine noise at take off, to final boarding calls in the airport.

There are videos that describe exactly what you will see and help you understand what to expect. You can even find a support forum to discuss your concerns with other travelers.

2. Understand why flying is actually safe

We have all heard the saying: “You’re more likely to die in a car accident on the way to the airport than on the plane.”

This is certainly true. Statistics show you are in fact 500-1000 times more likely to meet your end on the highway. But let’s face it; this does not really help calm your nerves. You are still not in control of the plane!

But consider: how many drivers are actually in control of what other drivers are doing on the road around them? None! I’m fairly confident that 40,000+ Americans are not dying each year in a car wreck because they have control over the situation.

Then consider that since 1970 there have been only 58 fatal events between 16 different U. and Canada airlines. That is an estimated total of approximately 36.6 fatal events (at least one person died) per 16 million flights.

Granted, crunching these numbers might not make you feel comfortable flying. It should however give you hope that your chances of getting to your destination on a plane are pretty darn good.

3. Sit on the wing and breathe the fresh air
If the idea of turbulence is your nemesis, grab a seat on the wing of the plane.

Getting yourself onto the plane is only half the battle. You still have to deal with your nerves acting up while you are in your seat.

The cool air from the valve above you is a great way to chill out and relax. Open the nozzle full blast and direct it onto your face. The rush of air will not only help calm your heavy breathing, but will also keep your underarms a bit dryer. (You want to minimize the amount of sweat you will have to wear for the next few hours.)

If the idea of turbulence is your nemesis, grab a seat on the wing of the plane. While the jury is still out on this one, there is a general consensus that sitting over the wing of the plane will provide the most stability.

It’s possible the turbulence you will feel in the back of the plane isn’t going to be significantly worse than in the middle.

Still, if you think of the plane like a teeter-totter or seesaw with the wings as the pivot in the middle, it makes sense that you would feel less bumpiness sitting in the center. It certainly works for me.

4. Just pretend you’re on A bus

It sounds too simple to work, but it does. Closing your eyes and imagining that you are just taking a bus ride can really help.

When it comes down to it, being on a plane doesn’t feel that much different from being on a Greyhound bus (once you’re in the air).

Turbulence often resembles a bumpy road. And the possibility of your neighbor being too big for their seat and nodding off onto your shoulder no matter is real, whether you’re on the highway or 35,000 feet over Alaska.

5. Sedatives are just a doctor’s appointment away

When there is simply no way to get around your fears, and thoughts of canceling your flight flash in your head, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Explain the situation and ask for a prescription of sedatives such as Xanax (brand name) or Alprazolam. There is nothing to be ashamed of. These little pills come in .25 .5, and 1 mg doses. You and your doctor will decide what dosage is best for you.

As a 5’8″ male who weighs about 160 pounds I can say the 1mg pretty well knocks me out for a good portion of a 7-hour flight. I prefer the .5mg pill.

With one or two of these pills you may not be able to alleviate all your apprehensions, but you certainly won’t feel quite as tense. Just be sure to wait until you get to the airport to pop the pill, or have someone else drive you there.

Likewise, don’t fall asleep in the waiting area and miss your flight!

If a prescription is not an option for you, remember that most major airlines are now taking credit cards for alcohol purchases during a flight and many foreign carriers still offer complimentary booze.

One or two drinks can calm your nerves, but don’t drink too much, because alcohol hits your body much harder in flight than on the ground.

Giving into your fear of flying can cause you to miss out on the fantastic chance of traveling the world.

The confidence and sense of accomplishment you gain by visiting a distant land is only more gratifying when you arrive by conquering your fears.

About The Author

Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook currently lives in Tallahassee Fl where he received his second Masters Degree from FSU. As an avid traveler he maintains a new budget travel blog, in the hopes of inspiring others to just get out there and see Europe. He has lived and studied in Tübingen Germany and travels as much as possible each year to cities throughout Europe. His writing has appeared on Bootsnall and Vagabondish.

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  • Cedric Pieterse

    Good article Christopher. As a pilot, I am the opposite to you. I love flying, and I am a flight instructor as well.
    All the facts that you have stated and in some cases even understated like 1 in 16 000000 chances to die while flying, are spot on.
    Yes, to sit on the wing is definately the most stable point on an aircraft. The simple reason for this is that it is very near to the centre of gravity of an aircraft. Or commonly known as the C of G among pilots. This is the pivot point as you have stated. In theory you can pick an aircraft up by its wingtips, and the whole plane should lift evenly off the ground. In practise, it is not quite so, as there are a some technical issues like stall characteristics and stability factors that make most aircraft nose-heavy. This is to make the ride for you as a passenger in a big plane more bearable. It would be an interesting experience if Boeings were built like a lightweight aerobatic plane…
    There are a number of factors that contribute to turbulence in the air.
    - Thermic activity.
    - Converging airmasses.
    - Anti-cyclonic weather systems, like cold or warm fronts.
    - Hurricanes and tornados, but you will never fly in those!
    - Wind over terrain, like strong wind over mountains. This
    forms waves in the sky, simmilar to waves in a stream caused
    by rocks underneath.
    Thermic activity is the biggest cause. This is when you see those cotton-wool clouds in the sky, or sometimes even the bigger anvil shaped ones just before a thunderstorm. All passenger planes are equipped with “storm radar” to detect the really bad ones, and they avoid them in order to fly safely. Thermals are caused by warm air moving upwards due to the air being heated on the ground/water surface by the Sun or warm water currents. What you experience in the aircraft is described among pilots as lift and sink. Lift is air moving upwards and sink is air moving down. Typically, one would experience sink first, then lift and then sink agian. This is because the air is moving upwards at the centre of the thermal, and down around the extremities. Picture a giant doughnut, the air moves up in the centre of the “doughnut” and as it makes contact with the colder air, it cools down and drops down the outer rim of the “doughnut”.
    As air is ivisible to the human eye, and to most civilian instruments, especially those small enough to fit in an aircraft, one cannot see this. There are techniques to predict where these thermals could be. Glider pilots do this every day, and I would not bore you with how we do it…
    As the plane flies through this thermal, you as the passenger feel that butterfly effect in the stomach at first, and then you feel slightly heavier than normal, and then the butterflies again. This is commonly known as G-force. Buttrflies= Negative G and the heavy feeling= positive G. G is gravity, 1G is normal weight. Zero G is weightless, like in outer space. If you weigh 150 pounds, and you experience 2G, the scale would read 300 pounds.
    Big airliners are certified to experience 7+ and 5- G-force. This means that they can withstand gigantic forces. At +7G
    a 150 pound person would pull the scale at 1050 pounds! The seat that you are sitting on would not hold up, and still the aircraft would be operating well within its design limits.

    A Boeing’s wings can flex 30 feet up, and 30 feet down! And the aircraft would be perfectly safe aerodynamicaly and structoraly. They are built like the proverbial brick shithouse!

    One of the main reasons why passengers feel unsafe is cause and effect. You feel the effect, but you do not know what the cause is. When you drive a car, and you go over a hump-back bridge, you can see the bridge, and you know what the cause is, therefore your brain can interpret the information and everything is hunkydory. In an aircraft, or boat for that matter, you only feel the effect, and your brain has difficulty to process the information. Hence nausia or nervousness. It is normal, and as you said, there are prescription medicine availiable against it. A trip to the departure lounge bar before the flight would also help, and it is cheaper!
    I cannot state strongly enough on how well designed and tough passenger aircraft are. The chances of weather, or mechanical failure causing an accident on commercial passenger flights is very, vary, rare. Pilots nowadays are extremely well trained, and they have learned from past mistakes. A passenger airline pilot goes through very strenious training, and to become a captian, one needs tens of thousands of flight hours under the belt. You are in good hands.
    As far as busses, taxis, cars or just walking goes, you are on your own!!!

  • Samantha

    Fantastic article, I sincerely hope that it can reach those people. Everyone should be able to travel without fear and maybe actually ENJOY the travel part. I liked the bus suggestion but I think the size of the plane itself also helps; I usually feel safer in larger planes, but that’s just me :)

  • Christopher Cook

    Just hearing those facts on airplanes and flying can really help ease someones mind. Thanks Cedric, my nerves are even releived. Samantha, I too feel safer on larger planes. I guess I just sort of forget where I’m at after awhile…of course the martinis help.

  • Scribetrotter

    I don’t like flying – but I love travel, so I have to put up with it. I recently flew to Central America on a plane that had some kind of outside camera – we watched the takeoff and landing and some bits in-between. That reduced my fear enormously – it’s that lack of control thing. You can’t control what you can’t see and however illogical, seeing a potential situation allows me to feel a bit more in control.

    An odd thing that has helped my fear of flying is sitting next to someone whose fear is even worse. Now you can’t always guarantee that person will sit near you, but if you see someone grabbing the armrest tightly, start talking. I once flew from Malawi to Tanzania without even noticing it because the gentleman sitting next to me was panicking. I talked him down and completely forgot my own fear.

    I can’t say this enough to pilots: let us know what’s going on! British Airways (however much we might hate going through the Heathrow cattle pen) is stellar at this – the slightest deviation or or bump and the pilot is on the loudspeaker, telling us what’s happening. Again, illogical, but if I think the pilot knows what’s wrong, I’ll think he knows what to do about it. Result: feeling of safety increases. Conversely, on a recent Iberia flight, we went through major turbulence. The light went on. That’s it. So I wonder: is the pilot too scared to even talk to us? I need that reassurance that if I’m not in control, someone who actually is is flying the plane.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Scribetrotter – yes! having the pilot explain what’s going on does wonders I find. I never knew why, until you just explained it there:

    “I need that reassurance that if I’m not in control, someone who actually is is flying the plane.”

  • Captain Keith


    Perhaps we can help too.

    We’ve got a site at which provides loads of free help for anxious flyers.

    Pod casts, videos, audios descriptions explanations and we’ve got the biggest free forum in the world with over 6500 messages of support and help for anyone who has a fear of flying.


  • Chris Cook

    Hey Captain Keith,
    Your site is a great resource. In fact it it reccommended in the article above. Thanks.

  • kathy

    I actually used suggestion #4 with my kids. I just kept telling them to close their eyes and pretend they were on a bus. They could feel the occasional “pothole” but they didn’t panic, and the next time there was a class trip at school, my youngest child said the bus ride felt like she was on a plane!
    I also definitely would recommend that the pilots explain what’s going on when there’s turbulence. Not all of them do and it definitely eases everyone’s minds when we know what’s going on.

  • Chris Cook

    That is great to hear Kathy. My first flight actually came when I was 24 and just said “you gotta do it sometime”. I think if I had grown up flying, like your kids, my fear of such and nervousness would not have built up so much.

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  • HairyMan

    Not bad… Not bad.

  • Summer

    I grew up flying every other weekend from Tulsa to Austin and back again alone. I was a seasoned traveler for sure! However, I started developing an unhealthy fear when I got pregnant with my daughter, and it has been steadily worse since then. I am due to fly out this Saturday morning, ALONE, and I’ve got some Xanax ordered up from my DR. But the last time I took Xanax for a flight it didn’t seem to help. I am hoping it works this time! Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to rely on drugs to help me deal with the experience. I wish that I could just get over it!

  • jade

    this helped me alot

  • Helen

    I used to fly a lot when i was younger. I do think, that with age, we are more aware of our own mortality and our minds can take over. I have become terrible on flights! I was flying back from France last month when we went through a heat storm and i ended up crying, very embarrassing indeed! I have ever since done some research about this ‘fear of flying’, as well as participated in some forums on the subject. I find talking about it helpful. I always say to the crew before hand that i am afraid to fly. They have surprised me many times by letting the Captain know, the latter giving much more info on the speakers. I never drink but i do take one diazepane pill. I am trying to avoid this now. I have become familiar with the various sounds and feelings that the flights cause. I find listening to music helpful and plenty of magazines…anything to distract my thoughts. I try to focus on my arrival too, getting home or meeting family and friends. I have tried to train my mind into listening to my positive thoughts and stepping back from my negative ones. I become objective and think ‘why am i imagining the worst case scenario’ , this helps to distance myself from my own thought process. I always ask for a seat on the right side of the aircraft at the wing. If i don’t get this seat, i ask the crew if they can swap my seat etc. The crew always keep an eye out for me and let me know what it going on at the slightest bump. I am trying to gradually avoid doing all this.
    I am flying to London tomorrow evening and i am trying to be positive about it all. Reading some of these sites the night before helps a lot.
    Thank you for this site! And good luck to all!

  • Turb Coriolis

    We’ve got some info for kids with Fear of Flying at Junior Flyer…
    drop in and pay us a visit. No need to dress up, come as you are.

    The specific Fear of Flying stuff is in the Aviation Medicine section
    on the site, but there is a range of other stuff scattered about that
    are good background for youngsters who want to learn more
    about the airlines and aviation. Knowledge will set them free.

    There is plenty going on at Junior Flyer, and it is all free.
    Come and visit us soon at

    Captain Turb Coriolis

  • Dellany

    My brother and his girlfriend are basically treating my husband and I to a trip to Hawaii! How can anyone pass that up, right? Well I am terrified of flying and have always had multiple medications prescribed for any flight I’ve been on. I feel like I can handle the flight but then a curve ball was thrown my way, a learjet. Why that makes me more nervous I have no idea. Is there anyone with information about the safety concerning learjets? I feel like becuase they are smaller there is a greater chance of crashing, feeling turbulance and wonder what the pilots are required to do to be able to fly one. Help! I’m freaking out and the trip is only a couple months away.

  • Emmet

    My fear of flying is’nt that there’s a chance the plane may crash, what scares me is been enclosed. I suffer from claustrophobia. What can I do to get over this fear?

  • Katlyn

    Hello, My name is Katlyn, and i am 12. i have a very strong fear of flying, even though i have been flying my WHOLE life! it didn’t bother me when i was younger, but now that i am older it has developed into a fear!:( i go on holiday to greece on wednesday with my family and ii am already frightened about the flight! i am scared incase they crash, but my dad said to me a few days ago “Katlyn, i dont understand. you have been flying every year since you were born! how can you be scared?” i just cant help being scared, but i am going to try the bus method, so thanks for your help :)

    Katlyn xx

  • Jessica Lewis

    i agree with samantha. I feel alot safer in big planes rather than the small, 30 – 50 seater planes, like the one im going in to Ireland!!
    Travel sweats are great. Who knows what they put in them but they work!!!

  • Sarah

    I’m 14 and I’ve been flying ever since I was 5 months old, and I’m scheduled to return to Italy on Tuesday. I’ve never really been afraid of flying, it’s actually a fear that developed during my last flight (coming back from Italy, last year). We were flying when we hit some nasty turbulence, and the plane literally fell for a second before catching itself, I was so scared, and I wasn’t able to relax for the rest of the flight (about 2 hours, which isn’t that much actually, it could have been worse!). It obviously didn’t help that the pilot was pretty much not telling us what was going on, except for maybe saying “We have now entered an area with turbulence, please fasten your seat belts.” Knowing that turbulence is virtually harmless should help me a lot, but I do wish to have a pilot that will tell us what’s going on during our flight… Even though plane crashes are extremely rare, I can’t help but think “What if it happens to me, out of all the thousands of planes that are flying across the globe everyday?” I’ve been asking my parents for weeks now if I could get some prescription drugs from my doctor, but they don’t seem to understand how fearful I actually am now. Hopefully I can try a couple of the techniques you’ve suggested, and hopefully they’ll help!
    Thank you!

  • Rose

    Great article!
    I used to fly a lot and be as relaxed as ever. I’d get a bit nervous taking off, but then one in the air kicking back with a book and listening to some music and I’d be fine. I went to Queensland in Australia a few summers ago (I’m from southern Australia) and I was really dehydrated on the plane back, and had a panic attack (I have anxiety problems anyway, regardless of flying). The next time I flew we had severe turbulence which was aweful..I can’t say I’m afraid to fly, but I’m a lot more nervous then I used to be due to these 2 episodes! I get really nervous before the flight but once I’m up there it’s not as bad as what I imagined it to be. I wish there was a way to get back to how I used to be, my mum wants to go to the UK for a holiday next year with me and I really want to go!

  • Dave Rodriguez

    Hi my name is Dave and i am flying for the first time in 26 years, the flight is 11 days from now, I know that Xanax, Valium and in my case a couple of cocktails does the trick to relax, it’s the build up to the trip and with me I’m analyzing the maintenance of the aircraft, the quality of the pilot, will I freak out in my seat, anything I can possibly think of comes up. I actually come from a flying family, My father died landing a flying tigers super constellation in Scotland in 1962, obviously my fear has been dying in an airplane,and my brother has worked for Northrup Grumman for 30 years.My family members have flown all over the world even my kids, I have come up with every excuse for not flying, I have accomplished many things and overcome many things during my 51 years it’s now come to this final fear, no one believes I will actually do it, and i mean nobody, there saying having tickets and actually getting on the plane are two different things, there so right , i have already contemplated that, but I must do this to climb out of the box, all the comments I have read are helpful most of all the info I already knew, but it’s nice to know that your fears are felt by others, the Technique that I am going to utilize other then Xanax is to try to occupy my mind with other things, I call it when your stuck on a bridge in your car and you start to feel anxious, you get that piece of paper or book or instruction manual out and start to read it, diffuse your thought pattern to stop the freight train, I’m leaving from a park your car and walk in type airport, I learned from a family member it’s here that you start by making it easy for yourself, if it’s warm he wears shorts tee shirt and flip flops to make his through security visit as painless as possible, no belt, I think the extra security or feeling thereof helps for the threat of external issues other then the pilot or plane, I think for myself and others it’s the finality of the hatch being closed and there is no getting off, until you’ve reach your destination. Thanks again for all the great comments.

  • Claire

    Hi guys… I always tell the cabin staff of my fear-but to be honest they can usually tell when I start crying, shaking and covering my ears! They are always really good and reassure me when we have some mild turbulance. If the plane is smooth I can generally sit back and pretend i’m on a train and I have to listen to music! I also try to spend a while in the toilet if I can-sounds strange but in there I can pretend I am anywhere and not on a plane!

    I take a couple of valium and that seems to take the edge off. So far I have only managed short flights so feel a bit like I am missing out.. I would love to have the guts to go further but the constant anxiety is so exhausting and I hate not being able to ‘get off!’

  • Sue Jones

    Thanks for all the wonderful comments from the first to the last, You just don’t know how comforting these words are to me. I am to fly to see my son in California tomorrow and I was not feeling comfortable about it. I prayed for relief and wisdom. It came to me to google fear of flying- What a wealth of information from pilots and passengers, thanks again for sharing your knowledge.

  • Angel

    Hi, guys I am scared of flying. I was on a plane for the first time 4 years ago. I was alone I was scared. It was raining so the plane got delayed. I just remember being so nervous but I got through it. I actually got scared when the plane took of. I felt something in my stomach after that I was okay. But I could not look out the window. Twice the plane could just drop all of a sudden and people actually screamed. I was just holding on to my seat tight. There was a guy next to me asleep I was like how can you sleep at a time like this lol. When we where getting to our destination the pilot says “we are getting to our destination there will be alot of turbulance” and the plane just stared shaking at this point you could see the tall buildings of the city. So my first experience was kinda scary. The return was much better. So tomorrow I am flight to Las Vegas. I am a little nervous everyone says I will be okay. This time I am flying with a friend maybe that will help. Just the fact that I am on a plane in the air and I dont have control of it scares me. I just think about the bad stuff that can happen if the plane falls. They tell me to take a couple of drinks before I get on the plane. But my flight is at 9am I really dont want to drink that early. Well I hope everything goes good. I just want to get over it. Everything is ready just need to get on that plane in the morning wish me luck.

  • Susan

    Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone. I was completely fine flying when I was younger, I never worried – but now that I’m a mother I’m a lot more aware of my own mortality, and then this summer I had a very bad flight (bad turbulence) that has left me with a nasty fear of traveling by air. Sure do appreciate knowing that others have the same fear and figure out ways to overcome it – courage to all of us :-)

  • Russ

    I also had no problem flying in my early twenties….but now, even reading this article gave me butterflies and a sense of nervousness. I’m not sure what created this problem but I did take a short flight last year and spent the entire hour long flight in a virtual state of panic.

  • John

    Hi Ii’m 20 years old. I’ve flown many times before, the first flight I had was when I was 12 to spain from ireland and it didn’t bother me at all then in 2008 i flew dublin to london which didn’t bother me too much either as it wasn’t that long however we flew london to seoul in south korea it was a long flight about 11 hours and i was nervous, then i had to hop on another plane to sydney which was 12 hours and i must say i was incredible nervous but the way home from oz was tough. from korea to england we hit bad turbulence and i was very scared and found myself praying in my head that i would make it home i believe this is when i developed a fear of flying.
    I travelled to america to new york about a month after i came back from oz to visit my sister and i was nervous throughout the whole flight. In 2009 i travelled to new york again with my brother but we also had a connecting flight to toronto as we were going to a wedding i was petrified the night before and was even more petrified arriving in dublin airport i had bought magizines and crosswords and wordsearches to keep my mind off this then i found myself sleeping now and again on the plane.
    I haven’t flown since summer 2009, last week i found out that my family and i are going to new york for new years the first thing i thought of was how am i going to go on this flight. this article seems helpful so i’m going to try the bus idea and maybe a few sleeping tablets as well!
    My uncle works fixing airplanes his whole life and he told me that if something fails they have 2 or 3 back ups at all times. he also said that they are built to withstand turbulence as it is normal this thought helped me alot. thanks again for your ideas i will try them and sorry for this essay! :)

  • Stas

    Guys, your writing here means the world to me. I’m similar to many confessions here. I had a solid flying background. I used to fly for 15 years without any worry. After I developed a fear of heights and my next flight was a nightmare.I’m still flying, weekly, and it’s always hard to go through with it… I came to Europe a week ago and flying to Asia tomorrow, I do my usual routine with a few drinks and keeping myself up for days so I can sleep on a long flight, but I know this is taking a toll from my health. Especially because it’s a frequent thing in my case. Strange enough I never actually searched for this online. I was just listening to my friends bragging how they have no problem with it… This article and your stories make me feel better as I feel there is a hope. With this new knowledge it might be a bit easier… Thanks.

  • Shu

    Ugh! I am flying to Washington State next week and man are my nerves shot already! I’ve known about the trip for months now, but can’t get over the “what if’s.” Just the thought of boarding a plane is making my stomach upset now. I know what the statistics are and I know that turbulence is normal, but I just don’t know what to do about the thoughts in my head. I just want to be a calm flyer – for myself and my family.

  • Little BB

    Hi im a 12 year old living in NC in march i will be leaving for a trip to paris first im flying to georgia then straight flight to paris i have actually 2 fears first ive never flown over an ocean secondly i am flying at night ive flown many times before and ctually last summer i flew to san francisco but im flying with my aunt and cousin also i would not be scared if i was flying with my parents but flying with my aunt even though i usually fly with her i just dont feel as comfortable as i usually would be if i were with my grandparents or my parents

  • Kayla

    I’m flying for the first time on the 7th and I’m petrified. I went to the dr yesterday and he gave me a Rx for Xanax. Fortunately I’m having someone fly with me on the first flight but i’ll be flying again a week later by myself. This article and the comments have been great for helping me face it and deal with it. Hopefully I’ll be ok when I get on board.

  • kelly

    i am petrified of flying, i flew for years with no problems then one flight had a massive panic attack for no reason no turbulance ect i was that worked up i was physically sick, ive flew around 6 times since and in the days running up to the flight im sick every few hours i went to doctors who prescribed valium i ttok 5 times the recommended dose and still had panic attacks, i dont just have one i have them constant for the whole of the flight ive tryed everything including being nearly drunk, staying away from alchohol days before the flight incase it added to theanxiety ive had cb therapy, had sleeping tablets and read various info and still nothing works im not frightened of the plane crashing and do no its unlikely so i think it must be the being enclosed and knowing that u cant get off if u wanted to, i started long term medication years ago because of the panic attacks and dont generally have them anymore unless its going on a plane, ive nogt flew for a couple of years now and have missed out on so much, i have 2 children and i think its unfair that i cant take them away on holiday i really dont no what else to try, the only thing that made me feel only a tiny bit better was to sit at the front of the plane so i couldnt see everybody else this made me feel slightly less claustrophobic than usual, i really really need help and any suggestions would be gratefully received. ive also tryed the distraction technique but to no avail, all i can do is sit looking at the floor and having sips of water as soon as i look up i feel like passing out. anyway i really do feel like i am a helpless case but any comments feel free. thank you

    • Dora Tevan

      Dear Kelly, I am so grateful to be able to talk with you because I share your same problem!! I have cancelled my plane reservations twice and i don’t know how I am going to handle it. I VERY MUCH want to go to Brussels to do an oral history and record folk tales of Assyrian refugees, and then create Puppet Shows I would perform to their children. But, when I picture the plane door shutting and no way to get out for 8 hours (from NYC), I freak out!I have had many events in my life cause this severe claustrophobia. I have an available translator for March and April.I feel I would be much better if I was WITH SOMEONE on the plane, who I know or felt comfortable with. How did the flight attendants help with your panic attacks? Please write to me asap. I’d love to talk on phone too, ok? I need to decide asap if I can make this trip, and then the return trip too!! Thank you so much, Kelly Dora

    • Juliet


      I am exactly the same. I was meant to fly to Germany this morning and I panicked before even leaving the house. I had to cancel the flight and stay at home.

      I have tried hypnotherapy, medication and Virgin’s fear of flying course and nothing has worked. My fear is just getting worse and worse. This is the second time now that I have been unable to get on my flight. When I am faced with getting on a place it literally feels like I walking into death. My mind starts racing, I start shaking badly, sweating, crying, get tunnel vision and can’t control my thoughts. I turn into a different person and can’t control it.

      It started when I was around 12 and has steadily got worse and worse over the last 14 years. Having children has aso made the fear worse. I need to find some kidns of therapy that works, that will rewire my brain. I know hypnotherapy claims to do this, but it didn’t work on me. I felt calm during the therapy, but as soon as I was faced with flying I panicked again.


  • Kendra

    I have a very strong, very real fear of flying. I haven’t been on a plane in over 15 years and never for more than 3 hours. I have evaded traveling to places that we can’t drive to, and have missed out on a lot. My husband convinced me to take a vacation with him to Hawaii, I really want to go, but since we booked our flight, it’s all i can think about. I’m very very scared. I know that what i’m most afraid of is not having control, flying over water, and of course crashing. We are leaving in a month, and I don’t want this to ruin our trip. I’m going to call my Dr. to see what he can do to help, and I’m going to try these techniques as well. Reading this article did somewhat put my mind at ease………..I’m still just so darned scared.

  • http://BraveNewTraveler sue g

    So many similar stories….I also became extremely anxious just reading the stories. Fear of crashing, can’t stand the thought of being locked in, afraid I’ll run down the aisle screaming, can’t breathe, etc. etc. Didn’t fly until I was 36. Love to travel and have passed up many wonderful opportunities and missed out on so much. When I do break down and plan a trip that requires flying I spend the time between reservation and trip (sometimes months) becoming more and more frightened about getting on the plane, to the point of nightmares, etc. After each trip I swear it is the last time I’ll fly and it is usually 3 or 4 years before I chance it again. I have never flown without Xanax. Two before getting on the plane and then usually one more in flight. That is for a five hour flight. I’ve never taken a really long flight. Besides trying to zone out with the Xanax, I watch the flight attendants at any wiggle of the plane. If they are going about their business as usual it calms me down a bit. I also really appreciate pilots announcing the cause of any motion or noise, even if it should be obvious. I’ve wanted to take a fear of flying class but the thought of the flight at the end made me too anxious to take the class. I would so love to be able to fly with nothing but a sense of adventure and joy. My good wishes to you all.

  • Mikey Oliver

    Right – I don’t get it. I seem to be alone with my fear of flying. I don’t have claustrophobia, I don’t think I am going to die. I have never been on a flight. I am deadly afraid of heights. I can’t walk over bridges. Look out tall windows. If I look up at a building I get vertigo.

    Everyone says when in a plane you don’t even realise you are up that high. Bollocks. I would know that I am 5 kms (5kms!! Higher than any mountain) .

    Anyone got any advice for that!!!??

  • George M

    It is nice to see that I am far from alone in my fears from the other responses here but I just don’t know how to conquer mine.

    My fear is purely that of crashing and of course dying, particularly on take-off. As with everyone else here I am well aware of the minuscule statistical possibilities of being involved in a crash but my immediate response is ‘Try telling that to those who have perished in air disasters and their families’. I just don’t know what to do about it as I am desperate to conquer it.

    It has been nearly 10 years since I last flew anywhere and I have only flown on 5 flights in my life, the most recent in 2001 being a trip to Antigua from London followed by a short flight to Barbados and then a long flight back to London. There was no turbulence whatsoever as I recall but I was very much worried by landing back at Gatwick while looking out the window and not being able to see the runway until literally the last seconds before we landed. I think the fear of that moment, not helped by an idiot sitting next to me saying ‘Why are we landing in a field?’, deeply affected me.

    I have suffered numerous nightmares over the last 10 years relating to flying and many relating to being abroad and being petrified of knowing I will have to fly home again, waking up to incredible relief when I realise it is not real.

    I am only 26 so, health being well Godwilling, I have not missed the proverbial boat here and I am desperate to travel the world and see so many different things, but I feel like I am in a prison in my own mind regarding this right now.

    What can I do? My fear is purely related to crashing (on take-off) and dying.

    Any and all help such as here is massively appreciated.

    • Carlo Alcos

      Hi George, not sure how helpful I will be but I wanted to give it a go. First, I don’t think any words here will address your fears adequately. My first instinct was to suggest psychotherapy…but then thought how meditation might be able to help you. Meditation will help you remain in the present. Focusing on your breathing and where you are in the moment, rather than thinking about what might come. Just a proper breathing technique might help you get over your fears. Also, for me, going down the “spiritual” path, I find myself less afraid of death, more accepting of situations (it is what it is) and trusting that everything happens for a reason.

      Do you have any meditation centres where you are? They’ll usually have free drop-in introductory sessions. Or possibly even a retreat?

      Like I said, I have no idea if that will be helpful or not, or if you’re willing/open enough to go down that road. Just my 2 cents though.

      Best of luck to you.

  • Scared Passenger

    I’ve been afraid of flying since I was 14. I have to blame my mother for this. I took my first flight at age 6 and apparently (I don’t remember it), I was perfectly at ease. Then my mom started to take lots of business trips and would come home from them telling us stories about how scared she was. I think this impressed on me the idea that flights were something to be scared of! We took a family vacation to Mexico when I was 14 and I was definitely very anxious. After that my first flight was at age 22 to Russia for student exchange, and I was able to borrow my mom’s Xanax. I flew a couple more times using borrowed or prescribed Xanax or Klonopin, but as of the last time, it didn’t seem to help all that much. So, I’ve essentially avoided flying for the last 8 years.

    I just got the opportunity to interview for a great job, the only problem is that it is across country. I would telecommute, but I do need to go there to interview. I’m so motivated to get this job though that I’ve decided to finally get on another flight, this time without drugs. I do plan to drink some before the flight, but the flight is in two legs, and will take a total of 10 hours including a 3 hour layover, so I don’t think I’m going to be drinking constantly!

    My issue isn’t so much with being up in the air. 90% of my fear is the take-off, another 10% the landing. While I’m up in the air, I can just pretend I’m on a bus and the turbulence doesn’t really get to me. I’ve also experienced (albeit while taking drugs) that my return flights have been a lot less stressful. Essentially I think the more I fly, the more I become used to it. So I really should be trying to get a job where I fly all the time! lol

    Just wondering if other folks are mainly scared during takeoff like myself? And if there’s anything that’s helpful other than just grimacing and getting it over with?

    It’s definitely helpful to have this and other forums out there where people can talk about these fears. I think the more we talk about them, and the more we can talk to pilots who can explain the various noises, feelings, etc., the more we can say – oh, that’s just X. Already I’ve learned a lot from this article and the comments that will help me a lot in talking to myself when flying and telling myself that these things are normal and nothing to worry about. Of course it’s one thing to THINK and KNOW about things. When your autonomic nervous system takes over, it’s not quite due to conscious decisions. I’m fairly convinced that flying is much safer than driving which I do every day without any issues. I think it may really be an issue of not doing it ENOUGH to get used to it. I’m not sure what that “enough” is, and it might actually be different for different people, but I think probably 3-6 times per year might be a minimum, at least for me.

    • tj

      Hi! I totally share a similar story. I used to look forward to flying, however I remember a trip my mum took to Nigeria and she came back telling us how the plane was rocking back and forth and the turbulence was horrific and she almost fainted all this stuff my 13 year old ears combined with horror movies such as final destination, internalised. I can’t remember ever being naturally scared of slight, I never thought there was anything to fear, but to make things worse, everytime we flew with her she would talk about being scared over and over again, then whoever she sat with would feel every jerk and squirm in the plane. Mind you when we were all young she managed to keep a good brave face on, all of a sudden she is clutching on to us for safety.

      At the age of 24 I find that flights where I travel without my mother, with other calm and collected people I am very calm and I actually enjoy them, when I am travelling to Africa (there are a lot of horror stories family members and media sensationalise about the crash rates)… so I get more worried. I also read a few things about Greece and Eastern Europe so I worry about those, however flights to America, British Airways and scandinavian flight carriers etc I am goooooooooood!

      Thanks mum!!

      Also my fear tends to increase the more I have going for me, I just think fate can be cruel at times. I am now dating a man that I love and enjoying life, so sometimes I panic on return flights, I always feel like… this is the flight that will bring me to zero. Such a negative way to think.. God’s protected me over and over, but yet I think… this will be the day..

  • Nina

    This article and everyones stories have really helped me. I have been on a plane numerous times before and dont know what all of a sudden caused this horrible fear that I have. I went to New Jersey in 2008 and literally started crying and shaking when the plane took off and covered myself with my hoodie grabing my moms hand (mind you I was 19yrs old at the time) . Worse part was that our flight was a connecting flight!! On our flight back to Miami once we landed I ended up vometing! I guess I was soo nervous that it had to come out. I am scared of not having control of the plane, the height, the fear of crashing, and of corse turbulence!! But it makes me feel safe to hear that to be a captain you have to have ALOT of flying under your belt! My bestfriend wants me to go to Maryland for her birthday just for a 3 day weekend WITH EVERYTHING PAID FOR and I am still thinking about taking the offer!! I hope I go for it!

  • joshywashington

    I don’t have a fear of flying but I am developing a slight phobia of landing…is that the same thing?

    • Carlo Alcos

      Josh, that’s the scariest part!

  • Diana

    Hey everyone.
    I’m really, really, really scared of flying.
    Every single aspect of it freaks me out.
    I’ve been on exactly 16 planes.
    My fear has been getting worse and worse each time.
    I’m 16 years old now. I just don’t know what to do about it.
    I’m going overseas next year and I don’t know how I’m going to prepare myself!
    I’m just so scared. I get nervous & cry just thinking about it.

  • Garry


    Thanks everyone for posting your stories, it is very helpful to read people’s experiences.
    I too have a really bad fear of flying. Mine is a little un-usual although I have read one other post with a similar fear.
    I am terrified of hights, and have this awful feeling that when the plane is at 35,000 feet it feels like I’m almost in space and so far away from Earth and it terrifies me, I am too scared to look out of the window.
    I have waves of panick attacks, and am just able to stop myself on the precipice of complete panick, so I sit still and dont ‘lose it’, but its a very unpleasant feeling and takes a lot of effort to keep the panick in check. In the past year I have failed to turn up to 2 flights and carried on my journey by bus.
    In some ways I’m lucky, I’m not scared of crashing – I feel the plane is safe and I trust it, I dont mind turbulence, except it doesnt help when I am on the edge of panick. I have been on the Virgin fear of flying course, and it did help in a way. It identified the source of my fear incase there was any doubt. Because the plane never went above 8,000 feet I felt more or less fine just a little nervous. I enjoyed the whole flight and looked out of the window the whole time.
    I am still determined to conquer this fear. I dont want to use pills or hypnotherapy. I have watched programmes on tv about other fears such as claustrophobia and it seems the best way to start conquering it is to slowly increase levels of exposure. My plan is to have some flying lessons in a cessna. Also there is a short flight in the UK from London to Manchester that lasts around 30 minutes and ‘only’ goes to 18,000 feet, still looks scary on Youtube, but it seems like the right level of exposure to start combating this fear.
    I wish everyone the best of luck in conquering their fear.

    • Diana

      That is EXACTLY how I feel. I’m not afraid of crashing, I’m so scared of the heights. The sounds scare me a lot, too. The flight I’m going to take next year is over-seas. So it’s going to go up in the air very high :(

    • Guy

      Hi Garry, I’m in the same boat as you… except I want to travel to the UK from the US (want to watch the Isle of Man TT in person).  Strange isn’t it?  I have come to the conclusion it must be some sort of control issue.  I haven’t had therapy for this phobia, but all the others.  I think we just have to do it; like you said, exposure.

      I almost hate myself for not being able to get on a plane.  I used to love to fly… I was the one sitting in the back of the plane laughing at everyone in front of me turning white and throwing up; karma, maybe.  Sux though, would love to find a way through this fear.

      It is debilitating, almost agoraphobic in nature.  The mere thought of getting on a plane is followed by pre-panic attack’s… not good at all.  I have to find a way through this; I suppose one way is to talk it out somehow.  Confused.

  • TheReviewer

    My sedative is a glass of wine. Then I can start to relax.

  • Chimacintosh

    There is a non drug alternative. I fixed my fear of small spaces and therefore of traveling on flights with NMT. You can learn more here.

  • cheryl

    hello everyone…i m glad i found this website…i love traveling but my fears of riding an airplane are depriving me to enjoy the wonders of the world..ive flewn 6 times already but riding an airplane again really scares me to death..i have planned to work outside the philippines many years 37 and still stucked here..i love my place but i want to experience how is it in another places…i took antidepressants for 1 year over due to my panic attacks because i had once had a road accident and prior to that i already had my fear of flying…my desire of traveling and working abroad is still alive but how can that be realised if i have still have the deep fear of flying?..please help me…

  • Monkey

    I am still a nervous flyer but nowhere near as bad as I used to be. I used to have panic attacks, cry, be convinced I was going to die everytime I flew, etc. If I knew I was going to be flying in 6 months time, my thoughts would be occupied by that flight for the entire 6 months. Now, I don’t bother getting nervous until I am actually on the plane. This is a huge breakthrough for me. And now its really only the fear of turbulence that gets me, i.e. even when the flight is calm, I worry that it is going to get rough.

    The one thing that has really helped me cope with flying (and I will preface this by saying that I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone!) is alcohol. It calms me down significantly more than xanax or any other sedatives. I try to have a few drinks at the airport and always keep some wine on standby for just in case it gets bumpy. Knowing that alcohol can calm me also helps me with flying in general; simply knowing that if I get too scared, I can have a few drinks and the fear will diminish has helped my general fear. I suspect this is because it is the fear of being scared that scares me more than flying itself.

    Finally, the more flying experience you can get, the better. I know what to expect with each flight now and it has helped to demystify the whole experience. Like I said, I still feel uneasy when flying but it isn’t debilitating now like it used to be. I love to travel and refuse to let my fear stop that, even if it does sometimes put a dampener on the whole experience.

    • Chrissyneill

      I have the exact same problem! Although I do fly, I am tense for the whole flight, I usually cry all the way through and I have panic attacks at the slightest movement of the plane!
      Please someone help!

      • Guest!!

        I have to fly to Dallas tomorrow and I get very nervous flying, too. Biggest thing is to just relax. Breathe deeply, maybe squeeze your seat arms very tightly… Also, find something that you like a lot. Bring your favorite book with you and start reading before the flight starts. That way you will be lost in the book and taking off wont be a hassle. Also try bringing an iPod, MP3 player, or some other device that plays music or podcasts. It may help to shut your eyes and listen to the music. Another thing you can do is close your eyes and use deep breathing to pretend like you are doing something else. Maybe you are with your friends or getting a massage. Whatever calms you down when you live on the ground will probably help you when you are on a plane. Last, if you are flying with someone, it may help to hold their hand. I do and after I squeeze it very hard, I start to loose energy and relax. If you think you may get sick on planes, try not eating until after you get off your plane so you don’t toss your cookies. 

        Hope I helped and good luck on future flights!!!!! :)

        • plane hater.

          I hate flying, when i sit on the plane i start to cry. The whole atmosphere in the airport makes me worse, the slightest movement in the plane when im in the air just  makes me feel on edge, the whole time. i fly atlest 2 times a year sometimes even 4. and my fear is increasing. i dont know what to do please help!

        • Nathan Schornick

          SO Im Flying Overseas My First Time For 14 Hours. i Get Terrified Of Turbulence And I Feel That The Plane Might Go Down or Something. I Dont Know How To Handle This But If Any One Is Reading This Please Wish Me Good Luck…

          • Me

            I am also like Nathan..Whenever I get into a flight, for no reason, I hold the seat handles tightly and start thinking about my life, as I start imagining that I am going to enter my last moments..It is too worse during turbulence..I start praying and holding the seats..The thing that upsets me is that in a road or rail accident, you have chance of survival, but in an air crash, you nearly don’t have that..:((

          • Guest

            YES! This is my feeling exactly. I’m not worried about a car accident because, well, I might not die. I could, but many car accidents are survivable. How many plane crashes are survivable?

          • me

            And good luck to everyone…

          • Crohoney

            i totally undertsand yor fear. im lying next month to europe and im extra nervous. im terrified of turbelence,every change of engine noise,and i cnt never eat ,sleep or even drink nothing. i cry also during turbelence and even bother strangers next to me to hold my hand . im thinking taking xanax because i dont want to be nervous for almost 9 hours on the plane.i hate not having control and i just cant relax . 
            since u wrote that 4 months ago i hope ur flight went well and i hope mine will too….

          • Jenny

            Im having this same fear.. I am supposed to fly to my boyfriend who lives in Israel which is a 10 hour flight.. I’ve never flown before ever and my mind keeps being occupied with my fears of flying.. I want to see him so bad and be with him but I’m scared this fear will keep me from it, and eventually cause him to leave me.. 

      • Silviagpires

        I thought I was the only one having this reactions! It’s exactly what happen with me, and I do need to travel to Europe at least 2 to 3 times a year! I feel that every flight “kills” me a little bit more because of the stress I experience! Does anyone heard about this trainnings that so airways have available to help with this kind of fear?

    • KS

      Same here. I didnt used to fly often, but when I did I would panic as soon as I purchased the tickets. I was miserable on trips because The entire time I was thinking about having to fly home.

      However, I have started making monthly cross country trips and I have gotten a little better. I still have anxiety, but it usually only happens once I get to the airport. I still white knuckle it through take off and never relax, even on a short flight, but I somehow really enjoy landing. Once I hear that we are starting the descend, I breathe better and feel cometely different. Even mild turbulence doesnt bother me during the landing like it does during the flight.

      Oddly enough, one thing that has helped me out is joining a frequent flyer program. I look forward to getting my miles and want to try to fly enough to get elite status. I recently took my first trip in first class and the comfort calmed me a good bit.

      Xanax and drinking have never helped, but flying once soon after a surgery, I took ome of my pain pills. That was probably the thing that helped me the most. Its too bad its not something doctors would give out very easily, especially for nerves.

    • Rockdoon

      Im usualy a nervous flyer but ive found its all a controll thing as i am a pilot, i only fly cessnas but when i do fly im not nervous… Infact its the obly place where i dont have stress but when your in a airliner you dont have controll and that make me nervous but you have to trust the pilots as most of them have well over 400,000 hours flying and thats equal to roughly 4 years of nonstop flight so they know what there doing

  • Mdg1879

    I suffer when flying, too.  I’ve tried drinks, sedatives, breathing techniques, etc.  They all work to a degree.  Lately I’ve been trying something else.  It’s going to sound funn, but probably the best advice I can offer is this:  while flying, pretend that you are actually the plane.  Close your eyes and imagine that your arms are actually stretched out as the wings, and that you are flying through the clouds, not the plane.  Whenever you hit turbulence, just imagine that your body just hit turbulence and continue flying ahead…no sweat.  Like I said, it sounds silly, but it works for me.  Maybe try adding a drink or two to this technique.  Good luck.

  • Guest

    i am flying in the next couple of months and i am planning on spending the entire journey listening to a deep relaxation hypnosis cd, it knocks me out if i feel calm and when i’m not and i have it on i can literally feel all my anxieties floating away

  • guest

    The last time went on a plane was 10 years ago I was prescribed a sedative which really helped (the night before the flight I was definitely not getting on that plane :() and I went on to have an amazing vacation which would never have happened if I had let fear overcome me. I have had CBT  for Anxiety and PA which has totally helped me, now I  have two small children I want them to experience everything and not be afraid like their mummy. We are currently saving up to take them to Florida which is a 9 hr flight for us, uneasiness is setting in again and I certainly do not want my children to see me in Panic mode! I will definitely get a sedative again, but also want to explore alternate therapies again! Thanks for your article, it is good to see I am not the only with this issue, but that it can be dealt with it gives me confidence to actually get aboard a plane (I will also visualize how happy my babies will be on their vacation!) I am not the same as I used to be because before I could not even look at a plane on the TV without having a PA. CBT definitely helped me with PA and Anxiety. Thanks again :)

  • Npatiole

    I have the exact same problem! Although I do fly, I am tense for the
    whole flight, I usually cry all the way through and I have panic attacks
    at the slightest movement of the plane! I realy want to vist my family.
    Please someone help!

  • Zoey Dowdle

    when ever we go on holiday, for my family it starts the moment we step out with baggages but for me only after boarding-off flight. seeing pleasant results since using and looking forward for the day, I relax, and enjoy the flight. wish me good luck!

  • Simon

    I hate the take off more than anything. Just the feeling when the plane goes from cruising along to incredibly fast in a couple of seconds, and then it lifting up and tilting. Ugh..I have a flight in 3 weeks :’( But I will be visiting the doctor..

  • Tara_chiapelli

    The best way to help your fear is to stay sober, arrive at the airport early, and be aware of what to expect on your flight.  Example, the plane takes off into the wind so think (will we be turning after we take off?  If so left or right?)  Also Look on a weather website and see if they are forecasting turbulance, this might help you be ready for it.  Landing can sometimes be stressful becuase the plane is going up and down, left and right, slow down and speed up.  Understand there are 2 pilots and they have control of the plane and even if the jets stopped or the landing gear doesn’t work they are ready for it and the plane is made for this stuff to happen.  I HATE flying so I feel your pain, and another way to help your fear is to get help.  I did and now I am able to fly again.

  • Ksk7070

    I had not flown for 25 years due to a bad experience flying.  I missed out on a lot in the last 20 years:  family renunions, weddings, vacations.  I was forced to fly for work.  I was told I had to fly or I would be fired.  I had a drink and a xanax.  I was fine.  I can’t believe all that I have missed out on.  I wish I had gotten the xanax and planned a trip sooner.  It helped so much!  I hope I can help someone who has a terrible fear of flying find the courage to fly!

    • Nervous Flyer

      I’m currently in a similar situation regarding my job and the mobility requirement.  I have not flown in over 20 years and I’m so sick about it.  I think I’m gonna see my doc for a sedative as well.  Thanks for the tips.

    • Odd Case

      I have an odd case, because I have flown everywhere all my life, to Rio, Brazil (which is a 12 hour straight trip) about 10 times, I’ve flown to Mexico (7 hours) also, and I haven’t flown in 5 years. Suddenly, my family and I are going on a trip once again to visit family in Brazil, but I’m scared shitless for some reason! I’ve flown so many times and I don’t know why I’m scared all of a sudden?  These tips are wonderful by the way.

      • Boonyc1992

         Me too! I flied to a few countries. Well, 8 of them. But now suddenly I get so nervous about flying to London this September. I had dreams of myself flying in the sky (without wings, just floating) and all of a sudden I accelerate down to ground and the adrenaline rush in the dreams is what, I guess, making me scared of flight!

    • Scared First Time Flyer

      Hi Ksk7070 I’m a first time flyer, i have never flown in an airplane and i’m scared to death. The husband wants to take a trip to China sometime soon with a friend and wants me to join and he knows i’m scared. I’ve had many nightmares where watching movies of planes going down such as Final Destination where the plane goes down and everybody dies, that’s the part that keeps me from flying is where the something goes wrong with the plane and i end up dying :’( i really want to get over this fear and fly and be able to enjoy different countries without being chicken shit and staying home all the time and missing out. Do you have any ideas or suggestions that i can try to help ease my anxiety during flights??? 

      • Jabo0318

        You’re NOT alone,  Scared  First time Flyer!!    I live in Richmond, VA  and am flying out the Friday before Mothers Day to spend the weekend with my youngest daughter & her hubby in KC, Mo.   If  it wouldn’t be so disappointing for her foer me to back out  I’d do it in a nano second!!!  Am 62 yrs. young, and never had even a remote desire to fly.  Now I’m feeling trapped : /   My FEAR is actually taking any  joy out of  anticipating the visit.   By chance if in the time since you posted you’ve actually flown, I’d love to hear back about your experience.   Thanks much!!! 
        Sincerely,  Jane

        • ses

          I agree with you about taking all the fun out of the trip. Im flying from KC MO to tampa fl. Im going for buisness and am actually being rewared and cant even enjoy it. I flew on a small private plan owned by a family friend and remember loving it. I start to get excited about going to FL then remember how I’m getting there. I am glad I’m not the only one who has these fears which puts me at ease. Leaving on 22, would like to hear how ur trip goes.

          • Jabo0318

            So glad to hear from you, ses.  Do you live in KC, MO.?? My daughter moved there 3 yrs. ago … her hubby is from there.  She misses Virginia, but loves KC.
            Will tell you about my experiences & let you know  how I do/did when I get back.   Despise being such a chicken, but can’t seem to help myself.  Although I’ve been given all sorts o reassurance, every possible scenario pops up. One of the drs. I work for has given me Xanax for the trip, but not assured that”ll even help….info online has conflicting reports  :(   – imagine that !! lol.   Oh well… no real option now but to try to put on my big girl panties and find my faith. hahhaha  ~   grrrrr.

      • Edwin Spanksworthy

        If you are a ne

      • Edwin Spanksworthy

        Let’s try that again.  If you are a nervous first time flier (or nervous flier in general) it has been suggested numerous times on these types of forums to let the flight attendants know. They will help you out. Sometimes I get freaked out on a flight and I look at the flight attendants and see how calm they are (even if there is turbulence). The tips above a great ones. One more way to look at the stats are that you’d have to fly every day for 22,000 years before statistically expecting to be in a plane crash. I try to remind myself that it’s just too small a thing to worry about.  Also, as we are not naturally flying animals, we lack the fear of heights when flying that one might experience when on the top of a tall building. It’s true that my fear of heights is far greater in that situation than on a plane.  We are not biologically wired to be scared when not attached to the ground by something. I hope that helps as those are all thoughts I find comforting.  I also recommend State’s “Ask the Pilot” column and watching YouTube videos that take you through the flight so you can get an idea of what it’s like. 

    • fear

      I am only fifteen and I had traveled couple of times and had no problems.But after I started to experiencing anxiety and panic attacks, I can’t stop thinking about dying I keep thinking I am going to die if been better know but the thoughts of dying won’t leave me alone.My fear of flying is not of a crash or terriost but dying of a panic attack or heart attack.Please help!!!!!

    • Marcel Horton55

      I am afraid to fly, although I have flown over close to 10 time in my life.

  • Nick P.

    Loved your Tip 4 ‘ pretend you’re on a bus’ and that’s really it, you are that’s why they call them Airbus after all.  The drugged up solution Tip 5 is the last resort in my book there are plenty of other ideas you can try first.  Try the free subliminal  MP3 downloads to help passengers scared about flying at   Awesome article though thanks for posting.

  • Storky

    Iam 2 scared i wouldn’t even get on a plane but I wish i could

  • Marysilva20

    I am planning a trip out of the country soon with family, I havent been on an airplane in over 10 years due to my horrible last expirience. I have severe panic attacks on my last flight. I have too have missed out on many family reunions and vacations. I was precribed xanax but I have not tried taking it on a flight just yet. I am worried that it wont work. I have a prescription for .5mg but I feel that I may need a higher does. I just need to know there is still hope and that it will work. I am tired of loosing out on so many trips and place that I wish I could see. My trip is 5 months away and I havent been abel to stop thinking about it since I made the decision to go. Im afraid I will run out of the airport because of a panic attack. Any suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

    • nick

      Hi Mary,

      Your determination not to miss out on family reunions and vacations is fantastic and using that as a positive focus will I’m sure help in the next few months.  I’ve flown as an airline captain for 14years and believe me seen a lot of nerous passengers, so you’re certainly not alone.  You mentioned taking presciption medicine to help with the nerves and while that is one approach there are other helpful techniques you may want to try in the lead up to the trip.  Have a look at and in particular the panic away program which may be able to assist in those panic attacks.  Good luck with the trip.  Nick

  • Scared for no reason

    The most ridiculous part of my anxiety for flying is I feel like I can’t get off the plane when Im I want.  How stupid and embarrasing.  Its not crashing ,  fear of heights  anything that would make sense  how do you conquer that

  • Deme

    “scared for no reason”  I just wanted to comment that I feel EXACTLY! the same way.  It’s not primarily about spiralling downward (which is scary but still) or heights…it’s simply the feeling of being trapped.

    • nick

      my wife often comments on that feeling of being ‘trapped’ by the  close proximity to other travellers and the ‘sea’ of heads looking down through the cabin.  If you have more personal space around you this may alleviate that trapped feeling.  I’d suggest looking at the seating plan of whichever aircraft you are flying on, just google them they’re all available, and then booking a seat that has more room.  The over wing exits are usually best, give a smother ride than being at the back of the plane and you don’t have to look a the sea of heads in front of you.  If you can afford it try an upgrade, usually a much more relaxed way to fly.  try some other techniques at

  • Nancy & Shawn Power

    Great Tips! Especially the one on pretending to be on a bus. That makes so much sense!
    Yes, we have a couple tips for flying and getting over the fear. Actually they go in depth on your first suggestion enlightening people on what to expect once on a plane. You can see it here Let us know if it was helpful.

  • Ben Hunt

    Hypnotherapy worked for me! Here’s the product I used..

  • Ben Hunt

    My ex used to suffer from a serious fear of flying in planes – particularly at takeoff and landing. She found self-hypnosis really helped, and now has no problem at all. This is what she used:

  • Will

    I have a similar prblem to someone else who commented.

    I used to fly all the time on family holidays and stuff like taht. Now my mum is talking about going on a plane soon, and i am scared shitlees and keep thinking of excuses.
    the two main things im scared of is the take off and the turbulence. Its also the angle of incline after the take off. Im shitting myself!

  • Bethany.

    I’m a 13 year old girl from the UK. I first flew aged six. I went to america (florida) and understandabley, a six year old finds everything scary and or boring and in an enclosed space for almost nine hours with turbulance ricketing us everywhere, both hit me pretty hard that day. However, I was not scared. I then flew when I was eight (again to florida) and then when I was ten to turkey and then when I was 12 I went to Greece. I have been to spain but via coach hated every second. What I do during flight is imagine I am a different person (eg the woman sat in the isle next to us) and act asif I can see myself and if I start freaking out I think ‘what the heck is that child doing?!’. But I am 13 now and flying out to africa on wednesday morning. I have terrible nerves before hand but when I am actually on the plane, adrenalin takes over an I’m practically screaming ‘faster’. I have another tactic. I mentally bribe myself. When I went to Turkey, I was on crutches. I broke my foot and I was in a cast. I had entertained the idea that if I went onto the plane my foot would hurt even more; so I scared myself. I googled it and to my horror thrombosis popped up. I was gutted and petrified. But then I thought ‘right. I be a baby and think ‘what if this could happen to me…’ Or I get on the stupid plane and go and have a brilliant time with my amazing family’. I did the same with Greece. I thought ‘ahh I’m scared’ then I thought ‘right. I go home and back to school and homework and maths. Or I get on the scary plane for two and a bit hours and then spend two weeks in glorious sunshine doing anything BUT maths’. Trust me, both tactics work (y) xx

  • Jspaley

    I have survived a bad pprivate plane crash, been hijaanded to Cuba, been emergency on a plane with a bomb scare that actually had a bomb on it(ioutof the U.S. where the country  gave into demands, was on a turbp prop and had an aborted landing and then whenwe landed an engine caught fire while taxiing, was on a737 that lost an engine and was unableto turnin acertaindirection so we circled Atlanta, dumped fuel andsafely landed, and traveled crosscountry the first day airports opened after9/11.   And yes, I had a pilot’s license, insrument rated, which I  let lapse and still fly enough to earn elite status yearly on 2 airlines and I have traveled over 1.5 million miles on Delta alone.  So you might wrongly think that statiesticallyy speaking I am the safest person you have ever known to be withon aplane–still I am fully aware that you flip appenny 100 times and 100 times it can come up tales…each event is independant with  the  same risks. So I take no solace in thinking that stats are on my side.

    And no–no psychiatrists, no psychologists, no  traumatologists, and no medication has ever been necessary to get me on a plane or even get me through the trip all the way to baggage claim.

    Here is how I do it andIurge those with a phobia to give these things a try:  If possible get to the airpport early and ask an agent about the equipment you are flying–no,don’task for a pamphlet, TALK to a person and tell them you have apprehensions. Give crews some benefit of the doubt that they care about you and your safety, but son’t forget they want to get on and off the plane safely just as much as you do.  If possible, pre-board and  ask if you can even peek into the cockpit; if not, ask a crew member to nicely remind the cockpitcrew, hopefully the captain, to get on the com and intro the crew and explain how long takeoff to landing will be,what they know aboutweather or turbulence you might encounter or even backups for take offs or landings and even to tellyou about the equipment.  Make sure to at least look one crew member in the eye and say “I am so and so and planes make me a little nervous.” I have yet to meet a crew member who then does not do the best to make a personal gesture–even if it is just a smile and maybe telling you their name and how many years they have flown.  Bring some old-fashioned puzzles that you can play without an electronic device–if alone try crosswords, acrostics, Soduko, wordgames, even trivia quizzes or any type of brain teasers.  If traveling with someone bring travel Scrabble, chess,  backgammon, cards—but bring things not computer dependant as most fear seems to occcur at take off and landing. If traveling alone, introduce yourself to a seatmate or cabin mate and casually  tell him or her you might get nervous–most people are kind if given the right opportunity. Last but not least bring your own blanket and pillow or even a travel pillow blanket set with a strap  and  handle that attaches to your  carry on sono madrush to get it out os a piece of carry on luggage.  Sense of smell is powerful–spray the pillow with  a little  of your own perfume or aftershave or that of your spouse,significantother, parent, or good pal.  If you have a “binky”–why not bring it!

    So these are my basics on how to mainly start your trip…

    Now how to get through it:  There is nothing wrong with asking your doc for something calming.  If getting a script is not possible, things like Benadryl, Dramamine, Tylenol PM(or the like) help many people.   They do nothing for me personally but I know many pilots who when flyingwhen noton duty take a sedative-when they are not in control they can be just like anybody else. Try to somethhing interactivein flight–try to talk with your seatmate, share a newspaper or magazine, offer to share a stick ofgum–literally tear it in half and offer it or open a fresh roll of old fashioned mints or candies  and share.  That makes you in this small adventure together with someone if you are traveling alone.  If traveling with someone, the offer to share is easier,but for me not as  helpful of sharing with a perfect stranger who does not expect it.  Something that truly helps me is not just watching a movie orinflight show, but watching it  with a seatmate,so on a plane with sinlge seatsonone site and doubles or triples on theother Ithink go for the seat with company and if you bring a media device headphones spend a few extra bucks on a splitter allowing two people to plug in headphones together and evenbring aset of cheap head phones or earsets with the changeable coversfor the earpieces.  And agin, whip out a game–ask if someone wants to play.  If your seatmate is the shy type or hasthings to do be respectful, but never hurt to try.

    Now for the only answer I have for the person who flying is so tough for that it almost is impossible.  If there is anyway to afford it try to take a short ride on a small plane sitting with the pilot—this may cost lots less than think–often less than the trip to the hypnotist or doctor.  See up close how it works…maybe even a helicopter ride. If  that is not possible there are flight simulator games —PLAY ONE.

    More people have phobias than you think…don’t think it is only you.  Be honest, people mainly try to understand. Don’t shut yourself out–be sure to bring yourself on board as one of life’s little adventures–for the most part one way safer than getting in a car inwhich you willgoover 55mph. Think good thoughts….Happy Travels!

  • Varga_evelin

    I have a horrible fear of flying I didnt visit my family 3 years now coz this.I got holiday from work now to have a chance for journey…I think I will miss it again…

  • 수민

    Am going on a plane tomorrow, actually, TWO planes. All Southwest Airlines, all Boeing 737′s. Done it a million times before, but just scared now, because I want to stay alive to see my best friend again (He’s God-knows-where right now).  I remember last time I was on a bus, I imagined I was on a plane, and it felt just like it (And I was scared crapless!). So, I’m going to do what I always do on planes; imagine I’m on a bus! I’ve done it for years and it helps. I’m on, like, 50MG of Paxil, and I’m still scared crapless at the thought of flying. I’ve been flying since I was about a half-a-year old. O_O”

  • mmdlk13

    Blah. Okay, so I’m 16, and I’m going on a “vacation” to see family in 2 days. We’re flying. No big deal, right? WRONG. The last time I was in a plane was like 7 or 8 years ago, and I loved it, but for some reason, the thought of flying scares me shitless! Don’t laugh, but I’ve seen so many movies that involve plane crashes, or cannibalism on a plane. I’m terrified. Thoughts?? I’m too young to drink away the “pain”, so I need other options!!

  • Jane

    I have a terrible fear of flying. Bizarrely though, it started after 15 years of frequent flying. I used to fly about 10 -12 times a year. Then I had one flight that scared me, and it’s just snowballed since then. I never stopped flying. For 10 years I would always get on the plane, despite being utterly terrified. Now I find that I can’t bring myself to get on anymore. I don’t understand, as so many people said ‘just keep flying, it will get better.’ I must have taken 40 flights since then, and it’s way worse! I take Xanax, which usually helps a bit. But I don’t know what to do… does hypnotherapy work? 

  • Anonymous

    Hi, I am an 18 year old girl and I also have a very strong fear of flying. It hasn’t stopped me so far from my travels but it does make them a very exhausting and excrutiating experience.

    What strikes me from reading these comments is that I don’t have a fear of the take-off or the landing. In fact, I quite like these bits. It is when I am at the top and the plane just feels like it is kind of hovering. I cannot relax because I am always anticipating a shake or turbulence.
    When we hit the clouds, I don’t mind the turbulence. I think because as the article has said, I know the cause. However when we are up high and just flying smoothly and suddenly hit turbulence or a few shakes here and there, I get increasingly terrified, as if I am expecting the next one to get worse and worse. I feel like it is a sort of impending thing.

    I try to distract myself reading the magazines or listening to music. Music has helped me because I don’t hear noises however when I am about to land, I get very bad earaches for some reason, if I have listened to music. And with magazines, I don’t really read them to be honest, I am far too anxious and I simply try to focus on the words or pictures. However, I have noticed that I have become increasingly more OCD with this as well. I think this is because I have no control over what is going on, so I get obsessive with things. I try to place my bag in a comfortable area or move it around, or adjust things, and move things around, and flick pages and flick back. It is very, very exhausting.

    The one thing that has helped immensely as I recall, is what others have also mentioned, when the captain lets us know often how things are and what is going on. Even if the captain is talking about the weather or unrelated things, I feel at ease that the captain is at ease, and it makes me feel like he is in control.

    I have a flight tomorrow, it is only 1 hour or so to London but I am feeling very anxious and I have come to a point that I want to tell my father to book me trains instead from now on. However I have recognised this won’t be helpful in the long run. I don’t know what to do to fix this. I do understand that people say it is very rare, however, like others, I still imagine I will be one of those odd numbers. People also telling me “Oh it has been fine for so long” also heightens my fear because I begin thinking “Exactly, it is only a matter of time for that ‘rare’ occurrence to happen.

    I try to talk to my boyfriend the night before. No matter what he says, it doesn’t help. However I do feel a little better the next day because I feel like I have gone over what I needed to. I am able to slightly diffuse responsibility from myself because I feel as if “Well they are saying it, so it must be right” because it is not something I have thought up on my own to reassure myself. It is something I can trust because it doesn’t feel like I am lying to myself.

    • Tom Werner

      Hey Nancie, I’m kind of the same way. What helps me is that the pilots want to stay alive just as much as the rest of us. Also, do some research on how they test an aircraft before putting it into service. Seeing what these pilots do to these planes while in the air is amazing, terrifying, and comforting all at the same time. Seeing how they test them will help with your turbulence worries as they put them through much, much worse conditions. Cheers, and safe travels.

    • Kris S-b

      Hi Nancie, I am similar however what is strange is that I first flew when I was only a few months old and always enjoyed flying up until maybe 4 or so years ago which made no sense, just got on the plane and started to feel so incredibly nervous. I guess that’s why they call it an “irrational fear” but then again fear is only natural (something we have evolved) but it is very useful to have that air-con thing on full power on your face. For me anyway it somehow regulates the breathing and feels soothing.. safe travels anyway

    • Iuliia Pashchuk

      I feel same, Nancie)

    • Nining Sutrisnaningsih

      My husband is just like you nancy, I always try to make him think and or concentrate about something else .., like give him a question which make him has to think,… such as “once we are in Singapore, what should we do? then what bla bla bla”… while holding his hand. Also making jokes and stuff.. ..

      its pretty depressing and tiring for both of us, because one hour fear of flying for him is one hour worrying of him,.. because at the worst point, his chest hurts, his back pain, shaking, cold hands, sweating etc.

      i am wondering that this shall be threatened, because of not the fear of flying grows worse to worse …

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  • Bruce Gilligan Kibbutz

    this really helped thx.

  • Inga Zakharov

    I am printing this whole article and comments and taking with me on my flight. Thank you all so much and I wish you peace.

  • Anonymous

    I’m soo afraid of flying that I feel sick thinking of my flight that I have next week… I flight all the time, normally once a month (short hall) but the thought of having to stay on the plane for slightly longer this time is awful :( I am normally physically sick as soon as I step on to the plane, due to nerves :( I hate the take off as I think it’ll just drop down again and I just hate being in the air as I am anticipating turbulence coming… I literally cry when it happens, which is obviously so embarrassing. This fear has only came over me within the last few years and I don’t understand why :S Its weird because when the pilot says ‘prepare for landing’, I completely relax, even if its quite a bad landing… Hearing the pilot speak throughout the flight settles me at points, but some flights that I have been on, they barely speak. Anything I can do?

    • Laura Maggio

      Jenna, your comment is unbelievable,everything you mentioned is exactly how I feel. It was as if I had written it. The take off is exactly the same for me, i feel like its going to crash.Landing for me too is fine, and yes I cry too when there’s turbulence.One time I grabbed a complete strangers arm!! I find that listening to music helps me alot although I pods have to be switched off during take off. I too wish I could overcome this fear, I live in Italy and need to visit my family in London.

    • Julia Selawry

      I feel exactly the same way!!!! I HATE turbulance and the take offs are just horrible. Im fine with the landings though. I also hate being up in the air and knowing that if the plane turns off, i will most likely die…. So here’s what i do: i try to distract myself. Watching a film always helps for me!! I also find myself pacing with my legs on the floor. It somehow makes the turbulance less scary for me :)

    • Judy Patten

      jenna, you are so me. i have to fly for thanksgiving-2 plane changes so 4 planes. i am terrified and half ill. but i want to see my family in tenn.

  • Kris S-b

    Really liked this article… I grew up loving flying and would go abroad 3-5 times a year but up until recently I got ever so slightly nervous and from that a fear rose up in me with all those annoying thoughts of “what ifs” and “buts”. Every aspect of flying suddenly feels so unwelcoming and unnatural… even falling asleep on planes is next to impossible. Although I know the facts that flying is the safest form of transport my imagination gets the better of me. To be honest there will always be irrational fears even in the future where you can just teleport wherever (told you my imagination gets the better of me lol). But thank you so much for this article and it hopefully will help.

  • Jean Frost Bleakney

    I have flown a lot in my life, even over seas. But still I have a big fear of flying. I have had some bad experiences with turbulence, but always got through the flight. I am leaving in a month to fly from Phoenix to Traverse City, Michigan with one stop in Minnesota. The flight is only about 2 hours and 34 minutes to Minnesota, yet I am nervous about the flight. I just freak about the turbulence and can’t relax. I hate the take off part, but love the landing. Do any of you have any advice on how to get through the taking off part? I know the article talks about prescription drugs, which don’t do anything but really knock me out. And also reading a magazine to keep me distracted. None of that seems to help. Also, could someone give me tips on getting through turbulence? However, this article is great and hearing about the statistics helps me breathe a little better, yet I still remain nervous.

    • Patricia Gist

      I’m not a fan of flying either, I use deep breathing exercises, focus on that and keep my mind calm

    • Jean Frost Bleakney

      thanks for the feedback. :) i will try to remember and breathe. lol

  • Maria Shtemberg

    I am always dreaming of a day when you will be put to sleep while on the airplane :)

  • Rossie White

    That was a beautiful and very helping article. I love it. Also I’d like to help some of you, I’ll be very glad to share wit you guys a beatiful guide that help me a lot, I found that in this website
    I hope this helps.

  • Anonymous

    I flew many times before, but haven’t been on a plane in about 5 years. I was never scared before, but now I am terrified! I have nightmares all the time about planes crashing. The problem is… my family and my boyfriend’s family are from Europe. I was to visit Germany and Lithuania sometime – a task not so easy when your terrified to fly. This article was a bit soothing to me. =) Maybe I’ll actually be able to make the trip. It also helped to know the Author (Christopher Cook) is from Tallahassee! I just moved away from there 4 months ago. My boyfriend is an FSU grad as well. =) I love when I find small connections in life. Makes fear easier to deal with.

  • Michael Denny

    I’m From New Brunswick Canada & I Like To Take A Flight To Detroit To Go See My Girlfriend But I Also Have A Fear Of Flying & Hights, This Was Very Useful Stuff I Hope It Helps Me

  • Avihs Plim

    Thanks for all tip[s :)

  • Springdale Clinic

    Travelling is all about unknown. For most people this ‘unknown’ creates anxiety to some degree. choose a destination that isn’t too challenging. Anxiety hates the company, so travel with friend or family member.

  • Paranormal Videos

    Good article, I found this video really helped me A LOT:

  • Springdale Clinic

    Traveling is all about unknown.For most people this ‘unknown’ creates anxiety to some degree. choose a destination that isn’t too challenging. Anxiety hates the company, so travel with friend or family member.


    I wasn’t afraid of planes untill my dad told me the plane he was on did a nose dive. Now every plane ride I go on is a miricle.

    • tj


  • Springdale Clinic

    Traveling is all about unknown.For most people this ‘unknown’ creates anxiety to some degree. choose a destination that isn’t too challenging. Anxiety hates the company, so travel with friend or family member.

  • Springdale Clinic

    is all about unknown.For most people this ‘unknown’ creates anxiety to some
    degree. choose a destination that isn’t too challenging. Anxiety hates the
    company, so travel with friend or family member.

  • Amber

    Umm this is for my mom this is so funny… She thinks only about the negatives…

  • katt

    Does it help to masturbate?

  • Ann-Marie

    I have never been on a plane before HOWEVER I am planning a major trip to the UK for 2 years and therefore have to fly I am actually crying at the thought of getting on the plane though I’m trying to get a few friends to join me atleast for the plane ride and stuff so i can stay calm and reading these tips ill see if they will work if i can’t get someone to fly with me

  • Mike

    I used to not like to fly but still did it and went to Europe. But I took two flights to visit my girlfriend who’s working on her masters 2,000 miles away and something just changed with those 2 and(and the LAYOVERS…shoulda gone nonestop) really started to mess my brain. It’s the acceleration and elevation changes that make my heart fall out of my chest, I don’t do roller coasters and anything fast because it gives me the same feeling and I used to just suck it up but just the thought of dealing with that again is making me want to turn a 45 minute plane ride for a quick vacation into a 3 1/2 hour car ride.

  • Adam

    I feel better already

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