Millions suffer from a fear of flying, for a variety of reasons, but it doesnt 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!
Before Your Holiday
Familiarise Yourself with Flying
If you havent 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 Virgins 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 youre flying with them. Expect a course to cost around £250.
Look at the Statistics
How safe is flying? Knowing that youre more likely to spontaneously combust or win the lottery (Ive made these up) probably doesnt 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 theres 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 its likely that youll die. Dont 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 youre 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
Its 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 its 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 dont drink too much booze, it wont help.
When You Are on the Plane
Breathe and Keep Hydrated
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 dont 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.
Hypnotherapy is often a last resort for people with a fear of flying. We spoke to Jennie Francis, a leading hypnotherapist, about what hypnotherapy can do for nervous flyers.
"Statistically, flying is the safest form of transport - there are lots of crazy statistics to back this up ... One I like is that there are more people killed by donkeys every year than by flying. It's also useful to point out the negative language of airports - the terminal, final destination, departures and departure lounge - it's subtle but some people can be really affected by it. Understanding that there are other influences at work is another one of the ways the unconscious mind can let go of the fear."
She believes it's all about your frame of mind. Talking about a turbulent flight that she experienced with a friend, she spoke about framing thoughts differently to eradicate fear.
"I tried to explain that turbulence was a natural phenomenon and was nothing to worry about, but nothing seemed to be helping. I then looked at it from a different angle, proclaiming: 'Of course turbulence is fun!'. She looked at me as though I was mad but I told her to repeat it out loud. After a few goes, she did in fact relax. It seemed silly but it's hard to feel frightened when you're giggling!"
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