“Even though flying is remarkably safe physically, it may not feel safe emotionally,” says Bunn. “Fear, in the form of anxiety, claustrophobia or panic, can develop any time we are not in control of the situation, particularly if we have no immediate way to get out if things don't go right.” You got that right.
While turbulence is what passengers fear most, planes are now built in such a way that turbulence cannot cause a plane to crash: Most turbulence-related injuries are the result of unfastened seatbelts and falling luggage.
Change your response. It's okay to be afraid of flying, Farchione says. What's more important is reacting to the situation in a healthy way. Many anxious fliers manage their fear by gripping the seats, studying the flight attendants or analyzing every last bit of turbulence, Farchione says.
Increased exposure to media that show plane crashes or other incidents may also play a role. ² Most commonly, people fear flying because they feel that they have no control over the situation and their safety. The longer a person avoids flying, the more this fear may increase.
Some fearful fliers are concerned about the safe arrival of the plane. Others are not afraid the plane will crash; they fear “crashing” psychologically. They are afraid they will have a panic attack in an environment where they have neither control of the situation, nor any means of emotional relief.
Travelling by plane can be a scary experience for people of all ages and backgrounds, particularly if they've not flown before or have experienced a traumatic event. It is not something to be ashamed of: it is no different from the personal fears and dislikes of other things that very many people have.
"Try holding your breath and then breathing deeply, or better still, force yourself to breathe out for as long as you can and then take a long, deep breath." Seif and Farchione both recommended taking deep breaths, since this triggers the calming response and can help to prevent hyperventilation.
This article discusses some strategies for managing panic attacks on a plane, including:Taking medication for panic attacks.Using visualization.Practicing relaxation techniques.Finding healthy distractions.Taking classes to combat fear of flying.Seeking support from other fliers.Thinking realistically.
You may have heard that flying is safer than travelling in a car by a wide margin, and that is absolutely true. Flying is safer than ever, and the statistics bear that out. Overall, you have a one in 5,000 chance of dying in a car accident and only a one in 7.9 million chance of dying in a plane crash.
“Accidents are rare in aviation. There were five fatal accidents among 32.2 million flights in 2022,” Willie Walsh, director general of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said in a statement. “That tells us that flying is among the safest activities in which a person can engage.”
Some fliers are worried about being in an enclosed space for too long, others dislike heights, and a select group is terrified they might accidentally open a plane door mid-flight. Furthermore, some passengers are worried about germs and viruses and others are just anxious that they might feel anxious on a plane.
Takeoff and landing
Takeoff and landing are widely considered the most dangerous parts of a flight. But that's only partially true. Let's take a look at this chart.
Fear of flying afflicts as much as 40 percent of the U.S. population. The nation's armrest-grippers may be heartened to know that “aviophobia” is perfectly normal, and easily treated. Only about 5 percent of Americans have aviophobia so severe that they cannot fly.
These strategies may help:Become an air travel expert. Learning how airplanes and airlines work can be reassuring.Expose yourself to triggers.Distract yourself.Tell a flight attendant you're nervous.If affordable, practice with short flights.Find a workshop.Use breathing exercises.Use guided imagery.
Causes of Panic Attacks on Planes
For example, ear popping and fullness, feeling "lighter," and pressure changes may all be triggers of fear and panic attacks; or at the very least increase the amount of self-monitoring a person does in a way that makes them more prone for attacks.
Safety in the Air
Since you only have a 1 in 9,821 chance of dying from an air and space transport incident, flying is actually one of the safest forms of transportation.
Commercial airplanes have to abide by strict safety standards regardless of the ticket class that the passengers are sitting in. As technology in the industry has advanced to have passenger safety as a principal consideration, airplane seats can withstand 16 times gravity's force.
Nonetheless, a TIME investigation that looked at 35 years of aircraft accident data found the middle rear seats of an aircraft had the lowest fatality rate: 28%, compared with 44% for the middle aisle seats. This logically makes sense too.
Fear of flying afflicts as much as 40 percent of the U.S. population. The nation's armrest-grippers may be heartened to know that “aviophobia” is perfectly normal, and easily treated.
While turbulence can feel scary, airplanes are designed to withstand massive amounts of it. "A plane cannot be flipped upside-down, thrown into a tailspin, or otherwise flung from the sky by even the mightiest gust or air pocket," wrote pilot Patrick Smith on his site, AskThePilot.com.
The list of triggers is long: turbulence, take-off, landings, terrorism, crashes, social anxieties, or being too far from home. Some people fear fire, illness spread through the air system, using the toilets, or violence on a plane.
Pilots are trained to handle all sorts of nerve-racking situations, but that doesn't mean that they don't get scared—especially in these real instances, told by the pilots who experienced them, of serious in-flight fear.
5 Simple Tips to Combat Flight Anxiety and Help You RelaxTrust the industry. The truth is that a lot of flying anxiety is projecting and misplacing fears.Go with your feelings. Wait a minute, you might be saying.Drink responsibly.Hold fast to the facts.Distract yourself.
“Also, some people experience an overall sense of discomfort with the entire flying experience: airport procedures, crowds, turbulence, unappetizing food, cramped space and long flights.” Anxiety is fueled by irrational, worst case scenario thoughts, and confined spaces are breeding grounds for this process.
While it's uncommon in pilots, anxiety is an affliction that doesn't have to ground you. There are a variety of treatments that can keep you in the cockpit.