How to conquer your fear of flying

Recent studies have shown that 25% of all air passengers suffer from a fear of flying - and many more will not even go near an airport! There are a number of factors that may contribute to the fear - including claustrophobia or agoraphobia. However, in many cases the fear has been triggered by an aircraft accident story in the media.

Fear of flying as an irrational fear

Fear of flying is classified as an irrational fear. Professor Robert Bor, a clinical psychologist and a qualified pilot, explains: "In life there's always some kind of risk, but nowadays you have a greater chance of being kicked to death by a donkey than anything happening to you in an air crash. Yet people still project incidents and apply them to themselves. There have been two serious crashes recently, and people immediately assume there will be more and more and they'll be affected. They overestimate the risk; that fear is now irrational."

Understand the unknown

If you have a fear of flying, every bump and shudder can feel like the start of impending doom. Take a few minutes to research noises and turbulence before you fly. For example:

  • There is no such thing as "air pockets" that can cause you to plummet
  • Planes can glide without engines if necessary
  • Turbulence may be uncomfortable, but it doesn't pose a danger
  • Modern aircraft are built with large safety margins - your plane isn't going to fall apart in the air
  • Planes are designed in a way that all metallic parts are wired together - so that if they are hit by lightning, it flows out through discharge wicks.

Learn how to relax onboard

One of the best ways to control your fear of flying is to learn a couple of relaxation techniques (for example, deep breathing). Distraction can also work well, so bring along your iPod or watch a good movie on the in-flight entertainment system.

If you're feeling worried in the air, take a look at the cabin crew. Think about how many hours they spend onboard a flight, and how many flights are in the air right now (with an approximate total of 250,000 people on board!). The chances of something bad happening are so remote that fear of flying is classified as irrational.

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