The thoughts, travels and tribulations of a recent graduate about to embark on the big bad world.

Friday, 16 November 2018

How I Cope with a Fear of Flying


The first ever guest post on my blog - and what's more fitting than asking of my oldest and best friends to be the author. Becky and I have been friends for almost 15 years and have been on our fair share of trips together. She very kindly agreed to answer some questions about a fear of flying. She is about to become a Mum (!!!) for the first time in February - follow her journey here.

1. On average, how many flights do you take each year?
I'd say on average I fly around 8 times a year. I have family in Jersey so it's more often than not to see them. Now that I'm pregnant it's a lot less though!

2. Have you always been afraid of flying?
Interestingly enough, when I was younger I loved flying. I can remember my brother and I used to fight over the window seat (something I HATE now). I used to get so excited about the plane journey as well as the holiday!

Do you remember when it began?
I think as I got older, I became a much more fearful person. I think around the ages of 10-12 I really started to dread flying. When I was much younger, I would often fly with my grandparents as my Mum was scared of flying however, she began to try and tackle her fear. I think seeing her so terrified on airplanes around that age may have triggered it off. Surprisingly enough, my Mum is okay flying now (still doesn't love it though!). I do think even without seeing her so scared I would have developed the fear anyway.

3. What is it that you are afraid of?
Oh, I'm afraid of many, many things. Having watched every episode of Air Crash Investigation I could tell you just about everything that could go wrong with an airplane! I'm scared of heights themselves, crashing, falling out of the sky, the plane stalling, terrorism attack, literally anything! I suppose they would all point to a fear of death though. 

4. What does it feel like for you getting on a flight?
I really hate it. For me, it takes away a serious amount of enjoyment about the actual destination itself. I feel anxious, sick, a bit shaky and like I could burst into tears at any moment. Coming back is always the hardest because you don't have as much to look forward to!

5. How do you cope?
I've tried a few things over the years. I did try medication to calm my nerves but found that it just made me really tired. No I try to make sure I have music for the take off and landing, something that I start listening to straight away on the plane. If it's a bit of a longer flight they I might download a few TV shows but I do find it really hard to concentrate on anything other than the plane itself so have found music to be my absolute saviour! I also find if you have a friend or family member to distract you that can massively help as well. 

Do you have any rituals or coping mechanisms?
I have a silly one of touching the plane before I get on! And then when I'm actually up in the air I try to think of all the things I'm looking forward to in my life and how in a few hours I'll be back on the ground again. Also, like I mentioned before, music is probably my biggest way of coping as I find if I can't hear the plane it's a bit easier to pretend everything is okay!
(*One thing I have noticed when flying with Becky is that she sets a timer of how long left on the flight. This way you can think to yourself, I only have 45 minutes left of worrying, etc and think it can be quite helpful!) 

6. Does it make a difference to you if it's long haul or short haul?
My Mum once said to me that you can't stay scared for 12 hours straight when we went to Mauritius - and she was right! I think long haul is obviously much more daunting as just being on the plane for longer is increasing the chances of something to go wrong in my eyes. My rational self knows that that is not how it works. So, I would say yes, I do worry more about long haul but in the long run I probably end up relaxing more on those flights than I do on a 50 minute flight to Jersey.

7. What extents have you gone to avoid flying?
I would like to think I haven't actually ever let my fear stop me from going anywhere. Even if that's meant there have been many meltdowns on a plane!! I feel like I've done my fair share of travelling to different countries, both for holidays and working abroad. However, thinking about it now, I said when I got pregnant I wouldn't be doing any flying at all during this time so in that respect I've probably sadly missed out on a babymoon.

8. What advice would you give to somebody that is travelling with a person that's afraid of flying?
I would say to follow their lead. Some people don't like being asked if they're alright or having any fuss but checking up on them when they are on the plane is completely fine. If you think distraction will help them then go for it, otherwise just offer a hand from them and give it a reassuring squeeze! If it is someone that is really worried maybe let the air stewards, as they can be a real reassurance if there's turbulence or anything like that.

9. What's your favourite thing about flying?
My favourite thing about flying is the excitement of going anywhere! It's normally a happy occasion if you're hopping on a plane so I would say thinking about the holiday or occasion ahead.

10. What's the best piece of advice anybody has given you about flying?
Probably two things: I've been told by many people that travelling by air is actually the safest form of transport - something I like to keep in the back of my mind! Or on the other side of the spectrum, my boyfriend reassuringly said 'Well, if you die you die and we can't do anything to change it!' - surprisingly it did help to hear this!!!


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2 comments

  1. Love this post! A really interesting topic! I’m not a huge fan of flying and definitely use music to try and relax (especially during takeoff & landing as I really don’t like that!) x

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    1. Thank you for reading! I actually don't mind landing at all, but I know that Becky really doesn't like it so music is a lifesaver!! xx

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