Travel Tips

Travel Tip | How to Ease Flight Anxiety

Tuesday, December 20, 2011Ryan Mach

Some people are afraid to fly. I am among those people.

[Boracay-bound aboard an ATR]

I haven't really realized that I'm afraid to fly (okay, that sounds exactly like a line of a song) until I experienced my first plane ride. I thought the anxiety that made me fidget while waiting for boarding was just a result of too much excitement. You see, I had always dreamed of touching the clouds with my bare hands. I wanted to see how it felt up there. It was a dream come true, I couldn't quite contain my excitement. However, as the plane took off, my heart started to beat frantically. This went on until our smooth landing in Silay Airport in Bacolod.

I've flown numerous times after that nerve-wracking flight experience. I should have gotten used to it by now. But every time I board the plane, I still find myself nervous. It's not as worse as the first time though. With a few tricks I learned and observed, I'm able to alleviate my fear of flying.

If you're one of those people who suffer from similar anxiety, these tips might help to ease your fear:

1. Get Used to It
By making yourself familiar with the sights and sounds of flying, you'll eventually feel that flying is just as normal as, say, riding an air-conditioned bus, only you're travelling in high altitude. Be aware that airplanes have bumps and movements so you won't find yourself freaking out every time you feel your seat shudder or see the wing of the plane tilt. 

Turbulence can scare the wits out of you if you didn't have any idea that this is a normal occurrence up in the air. 

2. Don't be a Wuss, Flying is Safe!
[Planes are one of the safest modes of transportation]

“You're 62 times more likely to get injured or killed in a land vehicle accident than in a plane crash” goes a friend's comforting comment on my Facebook note entry about my first flight experience.

Ironically, there is truth in this. Even statistics can show you that an individual is 500-1000 times more likely to encounter a mishap on the highway. Are you convinced yet that flying is safe? I'm not because let's face it, accidents can happen.

Another friend (I'm talking about you, Dani Joel) who's working in a travel agency assured me that all planes scheduled to fly are thoroughly checked. In other words, the airline industry is the most carefully monitored, regulated and scrutinized transport system in the world and commercial planes are flown by people with thousands of hours of trainingThat's comforting, right? Also, consider the fact that the number of plane accidents in the country over the last few years is almost close to zero.

These assurances may not make you feel completely comfortable but they should at least give you hope that you can actually get to your destination safe and sound.

3. Find out which part of the plane makes you feel comfortable
Some people do find themselves feel safe when they sit on the wing or near the window. There is a general consensus that sitting over the wing of the plane provides the most stability so turbulence can hardly be felt.  This doesn't work for me. The scenery below makes me dizzy and nervous. I prefer the aisle seat because it gives me the feeling that I'm riding on a bus.
[I'm personally not fond of window seats]

And oh, pretending that you're on a bus might actually help. Sounds too easy to do, doesn't it. Simply close your eyes, stuff your ears with headphones and listen to your favorite music (playing songs with very suggestive titles like Heaven or Fallen can ruin concentration). Pretend as if you're on Victory Liner or Partas going north. Think of turbulence as the result of a bumpy road.

Also, try to stay away from the seat near the exit too.

4. Keep yourself busy by watching a movie on your tablet or notebook.

If you're a nervous wreck, an hour flight can feel like a lifetime. But if you do something beside checking your watch, you'll barely notice the time. Next thing you know you've already arrived in your destination. 

My last flight from Cebu felt very short because I kept myself busy by watching "Tangled" on my friend's laptop.
[Puerto Princesa bound aboard CebuPacific]

Having an interesting discussion with friends is a good distraction. Just keep your voice low so as not to disrupt sleeping passengers near you. 

5. If all else fails, ask a doctor's prescription for sedatives

This last option is for losers. Kidding. Apart from the possibility of getting mocked by your peers, there's nothing wrong with making an appointment to your doctor and ask for a prescription of sedatives.

I haven't tried this yet but according to my research, common sedatives provided by physicians are Xanax (brand name) or Alprazolam. Taking one or two of these pills will make you a little less tense. If you're ashamed to go to the doctor, a half-bottle of alcohol might help you decrease your apprehensions. But don't take too much, just enough to calm your nerves.
[View above the clouds]

How about you, how did you conquer your fear of flying? 

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