How to deal with flight anxiety
Flight anxiety is very common and comes in different forms for everyone. Some fliers are worried about being in enclosed space, others dislike heights, and a select group are terrified of the plane door opening mid-flight. Whatever your trigger might be, here are six tips to help ensure your next trip is comfortable and panic free.
Find your flight anxiety triggers
The first step to helping reduce flight anxiety is finding out what part of flying is triggering you. Once you know that you can anticipate and address these triggers. Think back to the last time you flew, and try to remember the most stressful part of the experience, this could be the idea that you can’t exit the aircraft once it’s in flight, it could be the height that planes need to fly at or it could be regular turbulence. Indicating what triggers your anxiety will allow you to develop specific techniques and prepare you for potentially high-stress situations.
Chose a seat that helps you avoid your trigger
Picking the correct seat on the plane is very important as it is one of the few things a passenger can do to have control over their flight experience. Once you’ve figured out what triggers your flight anxiety, you can use your seat selection to help avoid it.
For example, if you’re someone who is afraid of heights then it’s best to avoid a window seat to reduce the temptation of looking outside. On the other hand, if being able to look outside at all times during a flight helps to calm you down, you’d be best selecting one of these seats. Aisle seats are perfect for those who feel restless or claustrophobic on flights, as it means you can move around as much as possible without having to bother the passenger next to you.
Relax in an airport lounge
Airport lounges are always a great option for those feeling anxious before their flight. They provide a quiet and comfortable atmosphere away from the busyness of the terminal which will allow you to relax. These lounges are normally located close to your gate, so you can enjoy a relaxing cup of tea while waiting for your flight to start boarding.
If you’re looking for an even more stress-free lounge experience, it might be worth upgrading to a ticket to Premium Economy, which allows the added benefit to use the airline’s premium lounge. At many airports these include facilities like on-site spas, private hotel-style rooms and direct access to the gate.
Talk to your flight crew
Flight attendants are air safety experts as they are required to do yearly in-person training to ensure they are up-to-date with emergency procedures. If you are feeling anxious about flying, you can mention this to them before the flight to ensure you receive extra attention from them during the flight.
In some cases, it can be possible to speak to the pilot briefly while you’re boarding the plane. This can bring a level of comfort for those who are nervous flyers, as you’ll be familiar with the person controlling the aircraft.
Find a distraction that works for you
Airlines provide the little home comforts that help distract passengers from the noises and bumps during flights. If you’re feeling anxious while on a flight you can get lost in a good movie, TV show or podcast to distract yourself from the fact that you’re flying. Pick out the films or TV shows that you want to watch ahead of your flight, this will give you something to look forward to once you board the plane.
Remember on some short haul flights these comforts might not be available, these are the flights that last around 30 minutes to 2 hours. We’d recommend always bringing your own distractions whether it’s a book, magazine or a downloaded form of entertainment on your phone.
Seek help from a professional
If your fear of flying has you feeling completely petrified, you could be experiencing aviophobia or aerophobia. The fear of flying can be brought on by a number of different factors including trauma from a past flight or even parents experiencing a similar fear. In these cases it is recommended that the individual seeks advice from a professional, who can provide the correct coping techniques to help overcome the fear.
A common treatment for this is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which will provide the individual with tools and remedies to help them cope with their discomfort. Hypnosis has been a successful way to release the fear that has been programmed into the subconscious mind. Additionally, some individuals have found success in seeing a medical doctor who can prescribe anti-anxiety medication.