Fear of flying, plane from above

Top tips for the fearful flyer

Over the past year, a number of my friends seem to have developed an unexpected fear of flying. Interestingly, for all of them this fear has stemmed from one bad experience, which has totally shifted their perception of air travel. Statistically, air travel is safer than ever before, with 2015 the safest year in aviation history. With over 34 million flights a year, the accident rate is 1 fatal passenger flight accident per 4,857,000 flights. Pretty good odds if you ask me. Perhaps the frequency of high profile plane crashes has made people more aware of the dangers of air travel, or the atmospheric conditions caused by El Niño causing more turbulence in the air. Either way, there are things you can to to make sure you are more comfortable when it comes to taking your next flight.

Top tips if you have a fear of flying

  1. Where possible book yourself on a larger plane. Psychologically, you will feel much more secure on a larger plane compared to a small propeller plane.
  2. Get to know the plane before you fly. Knowing where the exists are and what each sound on the plane does will do a great deal to put your mind at ease. Equally, knowing about how turbulence works and at which point in your flight you are likely to experience turbulence will help.
  3. Try not to fly on your own. Fly with a trusted friend or family member who you can count on for support before, during and after the flight. Some airlines allow you to take pets on board as emotional support animals.
  4. Don’t keep it to yourself. Tell the check-in agent, flight attendant(s) and passengers around you once you have boarded. There is nothing worse than having to suffer in silence. The check-in agent will help you to find a seat you are comfortable with and the flight attendants will make sure you are okay at various intervals in the flight.
  5. Don’t watch or read anything that will make you panic before you fly – that’s means no Air Crash Investigation!
  6. Avoid caffine. This can make you jittery.
  7. Drink alcohol but not excessively. A number of people say a glass of wine before a flight can help to calm your nerves.
  8. Keep yourself occupied. Watching a movie, listening to music, reading a book or doing a crossword puzzle can keep your mind distracted from any horrible thoughts.
  9. Breathe. Taking deep breaths before and during the flight will calm your nerves.
  10. Consider taking a fear of flying class.

Good luck, and remember you aren’t alone when it comes to a fear of flying.


  1. I had such a bad flight over Christmas and am loving these tips. I’ve booked into the BA flying class and am excited to learn how to open the plane doors and get out the slide! Also investing in noise cancelling headphones as now any noise from the plane immediately makes me think the engine has failed!

  2. Breathing exercises do not work. Research makes that perfectly clear. Yet, that doesn’t keep the pseudo experts these airlines use from claiming they will control high anxiety and panic. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conquer-fear-flying/201412/breathing-exercises-counterproductive-flight-anxiety

    Participants get through the “graduation flight” with group support and a constantly reassuring pilot. But when you later fly on their own, the breathing exercises they have been told to rely on fail to do the job. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conquer-fear-flying/201405/how-anxious-flier-can-recognize-and-avoid-junk-psychology-8

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