Afraid of Flying? 8 Great Tips for Nervous Flyers

Brooke Saward Stockholm
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brooke flying I’m often asked how I got over the fear of flying, given I take hundreds of flights each year. While I have never personally had a fear of flying, I can certainly understand having a phobia – such as my inherent fear of anything creepy crawly and snakes… that’s about as bad as it gets for me. But for those that don’t feel so confident flying, here’s a good bunch of tips to help put your mind at ease…

Tips for Nervous Flyers

  1. Turbulence is worse at the back of the plane so be sure to ask for a seat as close to the front of the plane as possible. If you’ve missed out on a seat upfront when checking in online, when you drop your bags at the counter politely ask the lady/man at the counter if you can have a seat upfront as you have a fear of flying – my sources tell me it works every time!
  2. Science proves that caffeine can cause nervousness so try your best to avoid having that coffee before you head to the airport!
  3. It should be comforting to know that flying by air is the world’s second safest mode of transport (second only to elevators/escalators).
  4. Think about what you will do after you get off the plane – we both know it will be worth it once you land!
  5. Keep yourself busy on board with tasks that require light thinking – Sudoku is a great balance of the ‘right’ amount of concentration.
  6. Travel with someone who you trust as this will naturally calm you.
  7. Make yourself known to the airhostesses – they’re really helpful and friendly towards nervous fliers, they’ll even sit with you during take off and landing if it helps calm the nerves!
  8. Commercial airplanes are really safe and easy for pilots to operate. Most of the time the plane is flying itself – it’s just that safe!

Sharing is Caring! Let us know your flying tips in the comments below…

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    Accountants London Lady
    June 9, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    ‘Most of the time the plane is flying itself’ – that doesn’t sound safe to me!

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    November 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    you have a great tips mind if i share with all our TamuAsia’s readers? we will credit your name as an original source – author/writer. TamuAsia is a travel, adventure and lifestyle magazine based in Malaysia. Thanks.

    November 18, 2014 at 5:06 am

    Me and my dad are both afraid of flying but since I’ve used these passtilles I’ve found myself a lot calmer and collected

    Jodi Duncan
    October 15, 2014 at 5:04 am

    I was never nervous on planes, I’ve always loved them! My first plane ride was when I was 4 and it was a 16 hour flight to New Zealand. I can’t remember it but apparently I was the best behaved kid on that plane! xx

    September 28, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Great list of tips! Thanks for sharing!

    Worried people should think it this way. If you have to die in a plane, then this is your destiny and there is nothing you can do to avoid it. Fears shouldn’t prevent you from living your dreams.

    September 28, 2014 at 5:12 am

    I’ll definitely tell my mom about these tips! But I don’t think I’m more nervous to be on a plane, since I focus on what I’ll do when I get off. I have yet to be on a plane! Haha. My mom promised me to go with me to London, so hopefully she will be more calm when I tell her about these! 🙂

    Claire & Laura
    September 27, 2014 at 12:29 am

    We find distracting ourselves by buying endless amounts of in flight make up and perfume always helps!

    September 24, 2014 at 9:00 am

    Brooke, I cannot tell you how often I think of this like, “how does Brooke DO it?” I have been flying ALL my life and never had a fear until just a few years ago (eugh). I’m getting better and taking more flights, but I know when I take that first overseas trip, I’ll probably wonder why I freaked out so much. These tips are amazing and I am so, so, so grateful that you’ve taken time out to share these with us. Thank you for being amazing.

    September 24, 2014 at 1:13 am

    I’ve always had a fear of heights. It took me almost 40 years to fly for the first time on a plane. I was nervous, but what helped me was having my children with me. My daughter was also nervous, so I didn’t want to seem nervous so that she would relax. I played it off as excited instead. It really worked! I actually loved the experience. It was a short 1 1/2 flight and it was fun. I loved the take-off and watching the ground get further away.
    I will admit that turning is not my favorite, neither is landing. I’ve only experienced a wee bit of turbulence and didn’t enjoy that too much either, but I do ok. We’ve since been on a second flight and enjoyed that as well.
    We are country folk that don’t get to big cities too often, but I think it’s important for my kids to experience the city culture. Flying, riding on subways, taking taxis are all new and fun experiences for us. We don’t do it often, but I feel they need to try it so that they have some experience with it. You never know where they will end up someday.

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    September 23, 2014 at 4:33 am

    the more flights i take the better i feel but turbulence is scary!

    Megan Anderson
    September 23, 2014 at 2:13 am

    I was never a nervous flyer until my husband and I started flying together and when we had a rough/scary landing in Queenstown, New Zealand. My husband doesn’t like take off and I don’t like the landing, so now we help the other out.

    I prefer to sit in the front because you feel less turbulence, but sitting over the wing is the most structurally sound part of the plane, so that where my husband likes to sit. Thinking of it as sitting in a bus (sometimes with my eyes closed) and other distractions always help me.

    Marie Away
    September 23, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Great tips!

    Despite having flown frequently, I always get nervous on flights, especially during take-off and landing. But, recently I’ve begun to pick a random person in my view to concentrate on. Someone who looks pretty comfortable. I tell myself that if that person doesn’t look nervous, I don’t have to either. I also look to the flight attendants during times of turbulence. I feel like if they still look pretty calm, it’s nothing. After all, they likely experience it every day.

    One more thing I do, though it may sounds grim, is to remind myself that it’s out of my control. Being nervous won’t change anything, so there’s no real point. This may sound like it would just enhance the anxiety, but it actually is sort of a relief.

    Sarah D
    September 22, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    I’m not afraid of flying, I just hate that take-off and touch-down feeling. If I can see out the window, I’m always afraid that they didn’t get enough speed up to lift off the ground and we’re going to come crashing down again! I just squeeze my husband’s hand real tight and then we’re off and flying 🙂

    September 22, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Thank you so much for this blog post Brooke. I am flying to LA from Brisbane in two weeks to do a big photography road trip and I hate flying. I will definitely put some of these tips into practice. Im also going to get some noise cancelling headphones because I find its the noise of the plane that scares me, so hopefully that will help. If you have any advice about noise cancelling headphones I would love to know! x

    Lucy @ Skeeter and Scout
    September 22, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I am not the biggest fan of flying but do it a lot. I take a lot of deep breathes and hold something tight so my stress transfer to that ha!

    L x

    September 22, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    Great article! Really good tips 🙂

    (IG: @TheStardustBohemian)

    September 22, 2014 at 8:20 am

    My dad is a pilot and he always said that there is leaf amount of turbulence over the wings. They kind of smooth it out I guess. I always drink a magnesium supplement called Calm which helps relax muscles and calm anxiety (it’s all natural too). I like to stick to lighthearted books and tv shows or movies. Ones with happy endings, preferably comedies. Helps my mind from going to the dark places of doom and gloom haha

    Capt Tom Bunn LCSW
    September 22, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Tips can help a person with a very mild problem flying. But if there is concern about having a panic attack or claustrophobia, tips are not going to be helpful because panic and claustrophobia are not caused by thought, but by the build-up of stress hormones released by noises and motions.

    To stop the release of stress hormones, the part of the brain that releases them needs to be retrained. Steps to accomplish this are presented in “SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying.”

    September 22, 2014 at 5:14 am

    We all know it’s safe, but still it becomes something irrational because we have no control. If something happens in a car accident (and even the chances are we could easily have one of this) we may have a chance, but in that small percentage if something goes wrong during a flight that is harder.
    I love your tip around the front seats, I always try to get them in order to get out first. If there’s anyone out there who’s afraid of flying reading my comment I can say so am I! I did a 100 flights a year, and still I was afraid. Any turbulence or change of sound I get nervous. I used to drink a lot of gin tonics to try to forget hahahhahaha but the best way is to talk with someone. I actually made a friend in one of my flights because I realized that she was also afraid of flying, we spend the whole time talking and we didn’t even realize the turbulence anymore – it was one of those winter-stormy flights.
    I hope this helps 🙂

    September 22, 2014 at 2:30 am

    I used to be a bit of a nervous flyer, but as my boyfriend is a pilot I have learned so much about aviation, aerodynamics and what actually goes on in and around the airplane during flight I feel much more comfortable.
    Air travel is extremely safe, and my discomfort was knowing that I was 39, 000 ft away from the ground. But, as I’ve learned things like the amount of experience and flying hours a pilot needs to fly a commercial aircraft, and how they practice emergencies from the start of their first private pilots license, I feel better. Also knowing that airplanes can basically fly themselves, they can fly with one engine, or even no engine at all. Airplanes are built to be gliders.
    As for the topic of turbulence- everybody’s favourite thing. A lawyer friend of mine was working on a board with pilots, airplane techs and an entire slew of other people from Air Canada when one of their safety manuals was being re-written. She too had a lot to inquire about turbulence. The thing about it is it’s just “rough air” caused by wind or a change in temperature. Nobody has ever died from turbulence (in Canada at least), they key is to wear a seatbelt so if the flight is really bad, you don’t hurt yourself. It is caused by thermals in the air, warm air pockets. Notice it is bumpier to fly in the heat of the Summer than in the Winter? Hot air is not as smooth as cold air.
    Anyway, I am by no means pretending to be an expert on flight or any type of scientist but I am surrounded by airplanes on a daily basis (I live on an airbase) and wanted to share with you a few of my understandings on the subject in the hopes that it may be helpful to someone.

    September 22, 2014 at 12:28 am

    these tips are great! I passed them along to my boyfriend. He flew for the first time last year and was quite anxious the whole trip. Hopefully this can contribute to him being more relaxed on our next flight.


    Kiara King
    September 21, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve never been afraid of flying, but these are some wonderful tips for those that are (of which there are many!). I always wonder how people that are scared of flying manage to endure long haul flights. I guess with anything scary or painful (like needles, etc), you just need to think about what’s at the end!

    Laura Jamieson
    September 21, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    Having flown for years my fear came on all of a sudden and completely out of the blue. It got so bad I almost didn’t get on a flight until I spoke to my friend who broke my fear down into 2 parts.

    1st is the fear of the actual flying, it’s so safe! Really it is – he sent me a graph and everything. Turbulence is just the plane readjusting it’s self to hot and cold air – like birds in the sky. Planes are tracked and are told if there will be any turbulence if it’s bad – they go round it! Your flight will not be the 1st nor the last to do that trip that day, you will be in ‘traffic’ that means if there is any bad turbulence that plane will tell the plane behind like a convoy. When I was about to miss my flight it was 1pm – he was talking to me at 9am and already that morning across the world 80,000 planes had landed. That is a very settling number when you get nervous. That’s A LOT of planes!

    2nd is the fear itself. I got myself worked into such a panic I was getting nervous about being nervous on the plane. Very very unhelpful. I was also being mean to myself, I was cross for feeling scared when I know how safe it is and I haven’t ever been scared before. When you feel like this you should accept what your brain has said and just push it to the side. I found I was saying horrid things so I would go ‘that’s not very helpful brain’ make a fluid motion with my hand and just throw the comment away. Sounds silly but when your super scared you try anything and this really worked for me. Being scared of flying can ruin the few days before a flight too (it did for me) that’s anxiety and stress. Go online and download some podcasts they are the most helpful thing I could have had. I listen to them before I go on and whilst I’m on the plane.

    September 21, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I wouldn’t say I have a fear of flying but I do get nervous! going to try these next time!

  • Madelinefedmont@yahoo.con'
    September 21, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Thank you for the tips. I really hate the turbulence

    Hannah Walter
    September 21, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I’m an incredibly nervous flyer, taking prescribed medicine from the doctor, crying hysterically etc and I will definitely be taking note of some of your tips!

    I find that talking to the cabin crew really helps because they are so friendly usually, willing to answer my questions and checking up on me throughout the flight to work out if I’m ok.

    I also find it so helpful for the person I’m with to talk at me during take off as I find this calms me and helps me during the bit I hate the most. Another tip I would suggest is bracing when you land. I find this really helps me to feel grounded and a little bit safer despite looking incredibly odd!

    Thanks for your tips!

    Suitcase and Sandals Blog

    September 21, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    Oh great tips!
    I’m terrified of flying and going to London in November… But I’ll keep all this in mind 🙂

    September 21, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Great tips Brooke!

    Betty J. Ogburn
    September 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    …As you said before, try to focus on something that will keep your mind occupied–like, watching movies, T.V., or listening to music that soothes you!!…

    Vanessa Key
    September 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    The worst part for me is landing. Once I saw how landing gears of plane broke just on landing zone..and that image is with me will the end of life I suppose. Everything was ok with the plane , but still it scared me to death.
    Every time I’m nervous in a plane I close my eyes and imagine that I’m on a trane (cause I love trains). That helps really. All in all sound is almost the same 🙂

    September 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Sleeping on a plane can also be a good solution! I always try to fall asleep: that way the trip feels shorter and is less boring. Plus, it’s always good to be re-charged when you have to get out of the plane! 😉

    September 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I used to have this paralysing fear of flying every time I flew with my family when I was little… Turns out it was my mum’s nervousness that stressed me out! I’m completely fine now that I travel alone! Great post x

    20 year old travel blogger with a thirst for adventure