How to Get over the Fear of Flying?

Updated on June 15, 2010
B.H. asks from Detroit, MI
9 answers

I'm going on vacation in a couple of months. I love to take trips but I hate flying. I'm only taking a few days off work so I don't have time to drive and I don't really want to go anywhere that's close enough to drive too. So, that leaves flying, I love florida but getting there is miserable for me. Just thinking about going into an airport makes my stomach feel upset.

And I fly at least twice per year and I would think that I would not be so afraid. It's just some type of phobia I guess.
Anyone know anything I can do to get over this that does not involved me drugging myself and being totally out of it for the whole plane trip?


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answers from Dallas on

I hate it too. We've cancelled trips over my phobia. I've flown before, and i've enjoyed every trip i've taken, but it takes me an entire day to recover from the anxiety attack. My fear started after 9/11. I wish wish wish I could feel more comfortable b/c we'd travel a lot more.

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answers from Detroit on

I suffered from fear of flying for years, but I too LOVE to travel. Before getting married, I really wanted to get help so that I wouldn't be nutso on the flight to our honeymoon. In the past I had used valium to some effect to mellow out at the airport and on the plane.

So, anyway, I started counseling sessions that my health insurance covered. Mostly I remember that the psychologist wanted me to read a book about how to deal with anxiety/panic attacks. The book is the tool that taught me to use breathing, visualization, and positive self-talk to help cope with fearful thoughts and the bodily reactions that go with them. The book was a huge help and I haven't taken valium since even though I've flown on 5-12 hour flights since then. The fear hasn't totally gone away, but I'm not fraught with anxiety the night before the trip, crying on the car ride, or having my stomach turn in the airport. I will admit that I am nervous at take off, landing and during turbulence. But I can almost ignore that I'm in a plane the rest of the time.

I'm sorry that I can't remember the name of the book, but perhaps you can do a search and check out some of them at the library or at the book store. If you can go to counseling too, that would be great. Good luck and keep in mind two things:

1. Fear of flying is very common. One out of every 10 suffer from some level of it.

2. If the coping mechanisms mentioned above don't work, there are always drugs you can use as a back up.

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answers from Detroit on

Just tell yourself that WAY more people die every day in car accidents and even being shot in the US than they do in a plane crash!! Failing that have a stiff drink before you board...
Some airports have a day course to see behind the scenes and meet a therapist and do a trial flight with helpers to see how they get on and what their trigger points are - check out your local airport to see if they offer it

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answers from Detroit on

There are many ways you can help alleviate your fear. My father used to get sick just taking me and my husband to the airport! After we bought our timeshare in Hawaii, we didn't have much choice but to fight the fear immediately. We enrolled him in a fearful flyers class (through Northwest at the time) and it was a solid 3 day class (all day). It was the best money we ever put out for a class. In 3 days, he was on a plane and flying. We have since taken them to Hawaii 3 times, Ireland, Florida, Las Vegas. All within the last 7 years. He does NOT take any xanax aymore (he had to take it just to DROP US OFF at the airport!!) And he looks forward to travelling all the time. I am pretty sure that the original people who did the class are still opreating under a new name (obviously not affiliated with Northwest any longer) and I found a free class online (kinda doubtful, but hey, anything can work, right?)
So good luck, and I hope you can work through this. There's nothing like taking a REALLY GOOD family vacation!

Also found this online too:

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answers from Cincinnati on

I was diagnosed with a different phobia several years ago that I learned would severely interfere with my enjoyment of being pregnant. I was so frightened that I could not even talk about the things I was afraid of without feeling faint and sick. Drugging myself was obviously not an option because of the pregnancy! I found a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders and went through several months of therapy. This therapist talked me through my phobia and helped me to change my internal dialogue about my fears. She also taught me several different relaxation techniques and practiced them with me. I am now on my second pregnancy and although I completed my therapy only a couple of weeks into my first pregnancy, I still practice these techniques regularly. The techniques have made the entire experience less stressful - I no longer have panic attacks, I can sleep through the night the night before, and in general, I am just able to be stronger than I ever thought I could!

I highly recommend making some calls and seeing if you can track down a therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders. You might also do a search online. I caution you that, in my experience, a regular therapist is not trained to teach you the techniques you will need to combat this, but phobias can be treated and many people even recover! So please do your research and find someone, because your trips could be sooo much less stressful than they are right now.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I hate to fly to but I'll fly over a 12 hour car trip any day!
I think the more you fly, the more comfortable you get with it.



answers from Dallas on

Hi B.! I know exactly how you feel!!! I HATE flying, I hate waiting to board the plane.......I think the only way I get though a flight is with a half of a xanax- just enough to take the edge off---------I also make sure that i have my ipod full of relaxing music and my favorite songs. I purchased a fear of flying cd that i listen to as well, it helps you with exercise's you can do while you in flight- like breathing techniques. I think it also helps to keep telling yourself that its the safest/fastest way to get to where you need to go!

Good luck----Im curious what other people have to say too!


answers from Kalamazoo on

Sorry - I was going to mention the "drugging" yourself !! :) Also the music and I like a good smelling lotion or spray - just remember it has to be less than 3oz. Yummy candy like lifesavers and a good book.


answers from Dallas on

I hate flying and we fly a lot... It certainly does not help that I have been on 3 emergency landings that scared the you know what out of me. There is not a way to explain the feeling when you have firetrucks chasing the plane.

My husband flies weekly and I fly about 6 times +/- a year.

I don't drug myself and I don't sleep. I like to be aware of what is going on. I've had the pleasure of meeting some airline pilots and staff who were passengers and they have explained a lot of the noises, etc to me. Since speaking with people who are on planes daily and more often than me, I have learned that is it ok to be nervous but I keep this in mind.......... Pilots have families too and they do everything possible to be safe so that they return home to see their family.

I am much better now, I just HATE takeoff with a passion. My heart races at takeoff. Once I hear the "ding" it is now safe to use approved carry on, I relax and can manage the rest of the flight. I do make sure I know where exits are located in case of emergency (been there done that), and I stay aware of my surroundings.

One thing I will not do is allow my fear to keep me from enjoying great trips with my family.

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