how i overcame my fear of flying

For those of y'all who don't know, I'm the worst when it comes to flying. Not because I still have a debilitating fear, but because my main coping mechanism is to ask questions and thoroughly understand everything that is going on around me. This sounds like a great anti-fear technique, but recently, I was sat in an airport departure lounge and was asking about what would happen if the plane got hijacked, and who takes over if the pilot got shot? A woman shaking out of her skin ended up approaching me and begging me to stop nattering about Final Destination-esque scenarios, because she has agonising aviophobia and what I was saying put her on the verge of throwing up. It turns out that there are actually a bunch of ways to deal with a fear of flying, and what may work for some may send others into full panic mode. Regardless, I've mentioned some of the best ways to deal with a fear of flying, and how I personally overcame mine.

Mine began with a dodgy trip to Cyprus, where at the last minute the tour operator changed the route for a refuelling stop in a deeply problematic area of the world with a rickety old plane company I'd never heard of before, and I felt so uneasy about the trip that I ended up at 3am in the deep dark part of the internet reading up on statistics and biased ideas that scared the living shit out of me. Then, of course, there was my trip to Poland where the plane actually dropped out of the sky during a world-class storm. Needless to say, my fear of flying escalated exponentially since then. Considering I want to travel for a living I knew that I had to overcome my phobia, and so I spent a long time working on it so that it would be manageable enough to fly with - and yesterday I booked a spontaneous four-hour flight to Adeje for a week. Now, I actually feel pretty excited about my flight - and here's how I did it;

Negative and positive reinforcements
Like you might spray a cat with water after they scratch up your sofa, there's a bunch of ways you can teach yourself to stop doing and thinking things. One of the best ways of doing this is by wearing an elastic band around your wrist and pinging it every time you think up a negative association to flying, with the jolt of pain both bringing you back to reality and training yourself to stop thinking said thoughts.  And of course, if you want to reward yourself with a shed load of chocolate or some cava, I say go for it.

Establish exactly what it is that scares you
For me, it's a mixture of the fact I have no control over the situation and that if anything goes wrong, one of those scenes from the aeroplane disaster movies will occur. I'm not a fan of the sky carts in London and big wheels in windy conditions for the same reason - I can't stop it if I don't like it. For others, turbulence may be a factor in their fear, or lightning strikes or spilt coffee on the pilot's part. None of these are going to cause you any damage, let alone fatalities, so it's important to establish the exact root of your fears in order to extinguish them. 

Learn about turbulence
Talking about turbulence, if you spend time educating yourself on exactly what it is then you should automatically feel a lot safer. Turbulence is literally just a little pocket of air, pretty much the equivalent of bumps on the road in a car, and even birds have to deal with it. In fact, it's more annoying than dangerous, especially as aeroplanes can cope with an insane amount of stress more than what a measly bout of turbulence emits, and the wings themselves can flex up to ninety percent anyway. Even in the worst possible case, pilots are more concerned with the coffees that will get spilt than the wings dropping off or the plane flipping due to turbulence.

Avoid common misbeliefs about overcoming your fear
Some people suggest drinking, but that will dehydrate you more than you will already be with the change in pressure and make you feel worse when you land. It's also not a good long-term solution. Others suggest taking sleeping pills or distracting yourself with whale song, but neither really fix the problem. You've got to get to the route of your fear and work up from there, and by taking yourself mentally out of the situation you're still going to face the same problem each time you think about flying. Don't get caught up in your aviophobia - after all, it's illogical, and would be much more productive if you were that meticulous about trying to stop your smoking habit or weaning down on red meats.

Say hello to the pilot!
One of the stewards may ask the pilot if you are able to see the cockpit and meet the pilot themselves before you take off if you ask them nicely. Meeting the person controlling the plane and seeing the controls themselves helps minimise the anxiety that comes with the unknown, and should put you more at ease. Also, in regards to the pilots, they go through such rigorous training and invest so much time and effort (and money - it costs like $160,000 just for the official training, not counting anything before or after that) into their careers that they're deeply passionate and educated about the aircraft they fly and will always put your safety first. A lifetime of dedication and preparation means that they're pretty trusted with your life in their hands - and, according to an aeroplane engineer I spoke to, the pilot and co-pilot have to have different meals on the plane should the food make them ill, which should help with minor food fears.

Put yourself in the front seat 
Whilst this isn't how I personally overcame my aviophobia, some people suggest that you could take flying lessons or at least try out a simulator. This will demystify the idea of flying, and help you understand the sheer amount of preparation and planning that goes into making a plane fly.

Change your flight accordingly
Whilst looking at flights, you can read up on the information about which plane you will be on, and can choose a flight with a bigger plane (less turbulence), get a seat at the front (less of a bumpy ride), and pick a more direct route (less take offs and landings). By going through some extra measures, you can make sure that you will feel more comfortable and secure on your trip. Also preplan by arriving at the airport early, booking an aisle seat so that you can't see the 35,000 feet drop to the ground from the window, or get an upgrade by the emergency exit so that you feel less trapped.

Fly first class
Whilst I may still get a small amount of anxiety every now and then when I fly, I know for sure that if someone offered me a first class flight right now I would hop out of my dressing gown and jump straight on the plane. Believe me, it's a lot harder to be frightened sipping champagne and lounging in some crisp white sheets watching a good film.

Work on relaxing
If your shoulders feel tight, give them a rub. Spend time working moisteriser into the fatty part of your palms. Use a plastic fork to scratch that one spot on your back that you can never reach. Massage your scalp and play with your hair. You may look slightly unhinged, but at least it's better than doing a Kristen Wiig in Bridesmaids and standing in the middle of the aisle shouting "There is something they're not telling us!"

Learn how a plane works
The dangers we once had years ago, such as crashing into an incoming plane (the vertical deviation of any plane is less than the height of the tail so that's rendered moot) or an engine exploding, are now pretty much diminished.  I interviewed an aeroplane engineer at Heathrow who told me that both twin engined and aircraft with four engines can both run on just one engine without problem - and even then, aircraft can glide for around 100 miles if the engines fail at 30,000ft, landing safely on ground of floating on water. The very seat you sit in can withstand 16 times the force of gravity, along with being self-extinguishing and fire retardant. One of the biggest facts for me is that for every hour in the air, at least 11 hours had been spent on maintenance of that particular plane prior.  An eight hour flight? Nearly 90 hours of prep. As a fun fact though, every centimetre of slack you have in the seatbelt will propel you six times as far forward if the plane jolts, so make sure you use it properly and keep it tightened.

Prepare yourself, but don't be irrational
Learn everything you can about what to do in an emergency so that that aspect isn't dauntingly scary and you feel more prepared - however, that can be taken a tad too far. For example, a couple of flights ago I was sat there counting and working out how far away the emergency exit was and how to get there with my eyes closed. It irritated the person next to me to no end, and it didn't do me any favours either. I've found that it's best to understand how to react to negative situations, but once you have that information, calm down and take it in your stride. Congrats, you're prepared - but don't obsess.

Realise it's all in your mind
Understand that if you're nervous about flying whilst on the ground, then it's not actually flying that you're focusing on, but more the anxiety that the idea causes. Remind yourself that whilst flying, you are safe and well and going to a lovely country (unless it's to England, in which case, consolations). And then, like the famous step in Alcoholics Anonymous, acceptance is one of the last stages of your recovery from fear. Accept that you can't control the situation and that you're in good hands, and you should start feeling a lot better.

And finally, face your fear!
Just think, flying is actually the safest part of your journey, and the safest mode of transportation by far (cars, trains, boats - none have had as much time and monetary investment as that of the aviation industry to keep it's passengers safe). You're more likely to die on your walk into the plane, as your likeliness of dying in a plane crash is one in 20 million (over ten times better than in the 1960's, as the stats get better every day). And just think, air stewards choose to actually do this as a career!

I hope you guys have found some of these tips helpful, and if so, let me know in the comments below. If not, try a fear of flying course... or a therapist.


  1. I have a guilty confession to make - I found myself laughing quite a bit as I pictured the reaction of the woman with aviophobia to your Final Destination-esque scenario queries. :)
    Your air-travel experiences seem pretty amazing to me! I haven't flown all that much.
    All the facts are good to know. I didn't realise how much flex airplane wings have. I remember being on a flight where passengers were totally panicked during turbulence.
    Your comprehensive objective analysis of the various aspects of flying is fabulous.

    Sadly, the main reason I haven't travelled recently is unrelated to flight safety issues despite the decline in air traffic safety that resulted from Ronald Reagan's break-up, lock-out and firing of PATCO's (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization's) members.
    The main reason I haven't flown is because I don't wish to subject myself to the unconstitutional searches, invasions of privacy, theft of personal items, groping, molestation and gate-rape by TSA goons. Perhaps I could use the above as an excuse to fly in just a camisole and panties and try to get a free colonoscopy, but, of course they are unqualified to give them and most likely only want passengers to strip when they order it and not of their own will. I haven't forgotten about the uniformed goons who stole Alyssa Milano's breast milk at Heathrow airport either.
    If I got past my resentment at the excesses of the police-state I might consider flying again, but I doubt I could stomach it.

  2. Oh wow! I should send a link of this post to my mom who has a fear of flying. Thanks for the tips!

    Wishing you all a magical and blissful holiday! ❤

    xx Alyssa | STYLE VANITY

  3. I have no fear of flying, but I get motion sick, so turbulences send me into vomiting... Not something I look forward to.

    Anne - Linda, Libra, Loca

  4. These are great tips and reminders of why we shouldn't be scared of flying. Thank you.

  5. Oh thanks for share this useful and informative post

  6. hahaahah really interesting read. I guess it is all in the mind. Congrats for overcoming the fear.

  7. So detailed and informative 😊 I also have fear of flying but i just think of the fun i will have as soon as I land. Thanks for this it greatly helps.

  8. Great post! Flying is in my blood from young, & I love travelling. Popping by to wish you a Merry X'mas & Happy 2018! xoxo

  9. I've never been scared of flying but I did used to get really sick on planes when I was younger and randomly grew out of it. Although turbulence scares me on planes even though it is just wind, researching is a good way to over your fear! x

    S x

  10. Flying isnt my favourite thing, but I've found the more I do it, the easier it gets. Longer flights are actually better for me as I find I focus less on the time and whats going on around me. If I get scared, I just look at the air hostesses and as long as they're not panicking, I'm fine!

    Corinne x

  11. I'm not a good flyer, not because I'm scared, but because I get travel sick. It's not pleasant for anyone sitting near me, haha! When we went on flights as kids my dad (has experience in aviation) explained what was coming up, what sounds the plane would make, and basically answered all our questions before we even asked them. I found myself doing that a lot with my boys on their first flight, and preparing them beforehand. Like you said, removing fear of the unknown is a good part of it.

    And now, thanks to my dad, I have the same internal monologue running for each takeoff and landing, haha! If only they still let you into the cockpit to 'fly' the plane mid-flight, that was a fun memory I'm sad my boys won't have!

    Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are having a great week! It's hard to believe there are just a few days left in 2017! A happy new year to you. Enjoy your upcoming flight!

    Away From The Blue Blog

  12. Glad to hear you've overcome your fear! I've always been uneasy during plane turbulence, but I wouldn't say I have a "fear" exactly. For me, I've trained my overall fear of death to be pretty low, so I'm good in most situations. The one big exception is leaning against railings when there's a drop onto a hard surface. I'm better than I used to be with heights, but I still stay away from ledges most of the time.

  13. Thank you for this informative post on demystify the idea of flying. I actually forwarded it to a friend of my mine who has a fear of flying. There are so many flying horror stories and I am sure she will find it just as helpful as I. Happy New Year Amy.


  14. Eres muy valiente. Que pases un muy lindo 2018 <3

  15. I would never have guessed you had a fear of flying. You do so much traveling! I'm so proud of you being able to tackle your fear like that - I can't image how nerve-wracking and daunting it must be. I absolutely love flying. The feeling of gravity pulling you into the seat as the plane tilts upwards on take off and almost slipping off the chair as it lands. And while turbulence can be scary, it's also quite thrilling! Maybe I'm crazy.

    Anyway Happy New Year Amy! I hope you have a wonder-filled 2018! ^_^ x

  16. This was SUCH a great article. I really think that what you said about understanding turbulence and the plan is SO helpful. I didn't actually know the specifics of turbulence, but I seriously feel so much better about it now haha. Ben's dad works at an airport, and he told us that if you were to see the number of flights going in and out of an airport without issues on a daily basis, you'd be way less afraid. That fact definitely helped me!
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Susie |

    1. Thank you Susie! That's another reassuring thing, knowing and seeing just how many flights land safely on a daily basis!

  17. I once had no problems, but today I'm always afraid to travel by plane. I don't know motivation.... Good advice my dear...I hope you'll have a wonderful 2018!!!
    Don't miss my latest post, now on my blog! Kisses from Italy and thank you for your visit,

    Eniwhere Fashion
    Discover here my latest outfit

  18. I'm glad you overcame your fear! But I'm sure it was so worth it! Happy New Year! :) xx

  19. I've been flying my entire life and was fine. But with everything going on in the world even my anxiety increases nowadays. Awesome post with the most helpful tips.

  20. This is a very useful and informative post!
    I love flying, but it cames at hand since my father has the same fear of you, and he has similar mental paths than you!
    Anyway starting the year overcoming such fear is the best way for a brand new start, don't you think? :)

  21. I definitely have a fear of flying as well, so these tips really help! Thanks for sharing!

  22. Amazing how you overcame your fear of flying after your trip to Poland, I would have been terrified! Great tips for anyone who is anxious about it! Happy New Year!

    Miriam x

  23. I’m lucky not to have a fear of flying, in fact I quite enjoy it, though as I’ve gotten only the shine has definitely worn off when it comes to long-haul flights. But I think your tips are really good and could be applied to a fear of anything that you want to overcome. I’m lucky that my phobias are pretty small things that don’t really affect my life, but that’s really impressive that you’ve managed to overcome your fear of flying, because it would hold a lot of people back from doing things that they want to do if they didn’t want to address it.

  24. A great topic to write about! I have an INSANE fear of flying for a multitude of reasons. I've flown approx 125 times in the past 8 years but that doesn't matter, I hate it as much now as the first time, if not more. I get insane motion sickness, insanely claustrophobic,germiphobic, I hate sitting still, I hate it all. I've literally left the airport just minutes before my schedules flight multiple times & right now I'm not even traveling by plane because I know my anxiety is to high to commit. I've tried everything. The best thing for me personally doesn't fix it but makes it better is to talk my ass of. I usually travel alone, so this means talking to whatever stranger is next to me. I basically start before we take off by saying, "Hey I am crazy & I'm going to freak out, I am a little more calm, especially on take off if I'm talking, so let's talk, hey, what's up" then BAM next thing they know I've talked to them for the entire 5 hr flight. Hahah.

    Kara Aragon

  25. This is great that you are pushing yourself and challenging your fears! Some great tips here! I think when we spend the time to understand our fears, it is so much easier to break them down and overcome them.

    Much love,
    Marianne x

  26. It's awesome that you got over your fear of flying. Sometimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and flying even if you don't want to is always good.

  27. Glad to hear that you found ways to overcome your fear, it is so important. I have no fear of flying but sometimes I get anxious about it, I fear the unknown and not having control of any situation but hey, it's the safest option to travel.


  28. My dad is a pilot and that is probably the reason why I always felt so safe in airplanes. Still, I did enjoy reading this article a lot, as it is extremely informative & well written. Air traffic is very safe & practical, so it is really a shame if someone can't experience it due to his/her phobia/fear of flying. As you say, we should confront our fears. This applies not only to flying, but to all areas of life. We should let fear of anything stop us from enjoying things we like.

  29. It's so cool that you've overcome your fear of flying, congrats! That is seriously impressive. The tips are great, thanks for sharing.

    XO, Kate

  30. Great tips, I can imagine it must be so hard if you are scared of flying! I once read that if there's turbulence, you're supposed to shut your eyes and imagine that you're in a submarine - no idea if it works though!!
    Have a lovely day :)
    Rosanna x
    Rose's Rooftop

  31. I love what you said here dear, especially on this part "Establish exactly what it is that scares you", which can be applied in almost anything and everything in life.

    Jessica |

  32. I am not a big fan of flying either. I always try and book the seats in front because that means I get to leave the plane before everyone behind me and more importantly, my two feet will be back on land faster haha. Thanks for sharing all these other tips though! I never considered them before!

    Simply Lovebirds

  33. I'm scared of flying... I just sit there gripping the seat for the whole flight! It doesn't help that I like watching air crash investigation programmes :D