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Fear of flying | Top tips for a more relaxed journey

Millions suffer from a fear of flying, for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t have to ruin your travel plans. Deciding to get this anxiety under control is the first positive step towards conquering your fear. Read our fear of flying tips below and start preparing for the most relaxed flights of your life!

Helpful hints for nervous flyers

Fear of flying tips, wingwalkers

No fear here! Image: Rob Marson under Creative Commons licence.

Before your holiday...

Learn about what will happen

If you haven’t flown for a while, or ever, figure out which part scares you - taking off, turbulence, lack of control, claustrophobia, landing? Fear of the unknown is very powerful, so talk to friends and go online, familiarise yourself with the procedures, sights and sounds of a flight. There are many videos on YouTube which show the whole process and should reassure you that those lovely, capable captains are in full control. Try Virgin’s very popular fear of flying help video.

Take a fear of flying course

You may have flown frequently and battled your anxiety for years, or perhaps developed a fear of flying later on in life. Virgin and BA both run very successful courses at different airports across the country, which anyone can sign up for regardless of whether you’re flying with them. Expect a course to cost around £250.

Try to look at it logically!

How safe is flying? Knowing that you’re more likely to spontaneously combust or win the lottery (I’ve made these up) probably doesn’t help, but it is very unlikely, really. Statistics on flight safety and the lengths to which planes and pilots are tested can help you to desensitise and put things in perspective. The Aviation Safety Network said that there’s now a one in 45 million flight death-risk in the US - meaning you could expect to fly every day for 123,000 years before it’s likely that you’ll die. Don’t dwell on the accident stats though. Like having a baby, driving a car, getting married and bungee jumping, thousands do it everyday and survive - they sometimes even enjoy it.

Speak to your airline

If you’re very worried about the flight, or what you might do during it, let your airline know in advance that you are a nervous flyer. The crew will be very supportive. You can also request seats at the front or over the wings where turbulence is thought to be less of an issue.

Plan some activities for your flight

It’s not the whole solution, but having plenty to absorb yourself in is another weapon in your arsenal against flight anxiety. The wonders of technology mean that it’s now possible to have your face pressed up against an iPad and your ears filled with happy sounds for most of your flight. Load up with travel guides, novels, games, music, movies and whatever else tickles your fancy.

On the day of travel...

Practise your breathing exercises to reduce your heart rate and try a calming product like Kalms or a natural remedy from your local herbalist. Be organised, prepare for your journey and arrive in good time - but not so early that you go crazy with worry. Enjoy the shops and the restaurants; maybe even have one drink at the airport to help you relax. But don’t drink too much booze, it won’t help.

You’re on the plane...


Continue with your controlled breathing, get the fresh air pumping out of the blower above you, and drink plenty of water.

Pay attention to the safety briefing

Of course you don’t need to be told this - but listening again to the well-worn phrases and watching the much-practised routines should help confirm how normal flying can be. Every possible problem has already been anticipated by professionals during years of research. They have thought of everything.

Settle in

Sit back and look at your activities, peruse the menu, peer into the sick bag, see what’s on the inflight entertainment - immerse yourself in the wonderful stuff you only get to do when you’re travelling.

Imagine you’re on a train or bus

Reading your book or listening to music, you could be on a National Express or the morning commuter train. If there is some occasional turbulence, think of it the same way as travelling along a bumpy road or track. It’s bouncy, it might be uncomfortable but it’s not dangerous.

Plan your landing celebration

Think of what you love in your life, enjoy your friends and family around you and visualise the plane landing safely. You’ll soon be cheering like a lunatic, and joining the hordes in a sweaty arrivals hall. You’ve got a lot to look forward to!

Do you have any helpful hints for travellers battling a fear of flying? Share them with us below, and if you enjoyed this post like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Google+

Written by Maxine Clarke, follow her on Twitter @travellingmax, or email

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