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The Traveller's Magazine
  •   2 min read

Did you know that a third of all travellers are afraid of flying? Some are so terrified by the idea that they would do whatever it takes to avoid flights, but for many of us it’s inevitable. Do you suffer from aerophobia or aviaphobia?

If you feel anxious, nervous, hot and clammy, uncertain, panicked or downright scared before take-off then here are a few tips to nip this fear of flying in the bud!

Why am I afraid?

The first step is figuring out the cause of your flight phobia. In most cases the fear of flying is almost always related to another fear or past experience that only a licensed psychologist can get to the root of.

  • some people are scared by the idea of surrendering control to a total stranger and not knowing what’s going on (problem with truth);
  • some have been on previous flights that hit heavy turbulence, thus causing an obsessive fear of having an accident or crashing;
  • some are totally freaked out by the idea of being shut up in a small confined space with other people (claustrophobia);
  • finally some have a fear of heights, of altitude (acrophobia), in other words, avoid the window-seat.

The most widespread type of aviaphobia is caused by simply not understanding what’s going on, basically how the aeroplane works and why it’s so safe.

Long-term therapy

Telling someone that studies and statistics have proven time after time that travelling by aeroplane is by far the safest means of transportation available (there are approx. 2 accidents per million flights) over and over isn’t going to work, so what does?

Aerophobia can be conquered with gentle therapies, like relaxation methods and behavioural therapies. The phobic is slowly but gradually put into situations (confinement, trusting in others…) until they’re completely cured of their fear.

Airline companies like British Airways even organise full-day courses called Avia Tours for passengers with fears of flying. Travellers meet with a psychologist for pre-course counselling, meet with several BA pilots, learn about different relaxation methods to help while flying and get accustomed to flying on a 45-minute test flight. It’s easier to build confidence if they know the device, the airline interior and what to expect on their upcoming flight.

Must-read: essay by Mario Vargas Llosa, How I lost my fear of flying

Do you have a fear of flying? What’s the scariest thing about travelling?

Img: Jon Olav, Flickr cc.

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