What is fear of flying?
Fear of flying refers to the excessive anxiousness and nervousness exhibited over air travel. This fear of flying is also referred as aviophobia or aerophobia.
The aviophobia or aerophobia can include the fear of:
- The plane crashing
- Panic attacks
- Losing control of the situation
What causes the fear of flying?
Some of the causes include:
- A previous traumatic experience during a flight (turbulence, emergency landing or a technical snag)
- Excessive exposure of disturbing air crashes or programs on television or movies
- Negative or pessimistic outlook
- Having lost a relative or a loved one in an air crash
- Wrong notions about aviation industry
Medical causes commonly associated with this fear include:
- Inner ear problems: Problems where one experiences pain in the middle ear (barotitis) due to a blockage and changes in air pressure during a flight.
- Sinus pain: It manifests as a headache and occurs due to congestion of sinuses.
Ways to overcome your fear of flying
Following tips can help you overcome the fear of flying:
- Assess your fears: Discuss with friends and relatives, if your thinking and fears about air travel are realistic in nature.
- Identify your triggers: Learn what sets off the alarm of the fear. If you can zero on it, you will be in a better position to handle it or turn them off.
- Educate yourself: You will be amazed to know that every part of air travel, right from the aircraft construction, flying to boarding, etc. are all are focussed on safety. There are stringent measures in place to ensure aircraft safety and like rigours tests and periodic maintenance of aircraft. Remember, air travel is much safer than travelling on the road!
- Learn to relax: During a flight, deep breathing and yoga can be helpful to relax and subdue this fear.
- Turbulence is common: If you are worried about past experiences related to turbulence, then don’t forget that it occurs when the plane flies through the non-stationary air. Read more how it arises and the fact that these are a common part of air travel. It is almost like experiencing a bump on your road trip in a car.
- If you have been following air catastrophes of late, don’t forget the fact that the majority of routine safe landings are never part of such reportings!
Seek medical attention if your fears prevent you from flying. Psychological help can be considered if past accidents or trauma are the reason.
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- 8 Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Flying. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://www.adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/specific-phobias/treatment/8-Steps-to-Overcoming-Your-Fear-of-Flying. Accessed 2 Nov. 16.
- Fear of Flying. Anxiety UK. https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/our-services/anxiety-information/anxiety-disorders/fear-of-flying/. Accessed 2 Nov. 16.
- Fear of Flying. FearofFlying.Net. http://www.fearofflying.net.au/hints-and-tips/. Accessed 2 Nov. 16.