Afraid to Fly? Try These Tricks

January 29, 2020 Heidi Green, Psy.D.

A fear of flying can be debilitating for a person who enjoys travel. I have been afraid to fly for as long as I can remember. I'm not your run-of-the-mill anxious flyer, either. I've struggled with a crippling fear of flying throughout my life. Recently, I took a class for fearful flyers; and to my great surprise, it has changed the way I fly. I want to share with you the most helpful things I've learned to calm my fear of flying.

Educate Yourself About Flying to Calm Your Fears

Part of the class I took explained in detail how flying works, and what happens during take-off, landing, and turbulence. Understanding the mechanics of flying took the mystery out of it, which made it feel a lot less scary.

I was encouraged to ask to speak with the pilot before the flight. I have flown six times since taking the class and have met the pilot beforehand every time. No one has ever been rude or dismissive to me about it. On the contrary, flight attendants have checked in with me throughout the flight, and the pilots have been so accommodating.

One even let me sit in his seat in the cockpit before take-off. The reason this helps so much with my fear of flying is that it puts a trusted name and face to the controls of the plane. I didn't think it would be that helpful, but honestly, it helps a lot.

Tools You Can Use to Calm Your Fear of Flying

I also learned about some free phone applications (apps) I can use before and during my flight to stay educated and know what to expect. The first one is called Soar In-flight, and it allows me to get a prediction for weather conditions and turbulence expectations for my flight within 24 hours before take-off. I like this because if I know to expect a bumpy take-off or a hard landing, it isn't so scary when it happens.

I also use Turbulence Forecast to measure the intensity of turbulence during my flight. Fearful flyers often think turbulence is more extreme than it really is. I like watching the scale during bumpy air to see if we are experiencing light, moderate, or severe turbulence. So far, it's always been in the light range, even when it feels moderate to me. Having this objective measure reminds me that turbulence is no big deal.

Try This Exercise to Soothe Your Fear of Flying

I attribute the majority of my soothed anxiety about flying to this single exercise. Several weeks before my flight, I do a visualization that pairs images of flying with a bonding experience. You can think of anything: nursing your baby, a treasured memory of a connection with a loved one, or even a moment of bonding with a favorite pet.

I visualize each step of the flight and pair it with my moment of bonding. I imagine walking on the plane, then go immediately to my bonding moment. I imagine sitting in my seat, then go to my bonding moment. I visualize the plane pulling away from the gate, then go to my bonding moment. I imagine the whole flight this way.

I do this exercise a few times a week to make the connection in my brain between flying and the peaceful, loving feeling of connection. Again, I doubted this would work, but when I stepped onto the airplane for the first time, I realized that it really did change my internal experience. I found it miraculous.

I hope if you have a fear of flying like me, these tips will work for you and you too can experience the wonder of flying without fear.

APA Reference
Green, H. (2020, January 29). Afraid to Fly? Try These Tricks, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Heidi Green, Psy.D.

Heidi Green is a clinical psychologist and self-love aficionado. She lives her blissful life in Arizona where she enjoys hiking, kayaking, and snuggling her rescue pups. Find Heidi on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and her blog.

Please note: Dr. Green shares her personal opinions and experiences and nothing written by her should be considered professional or personal services or advice.

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