I had a interesting flying experience this morning. I left the Lincoln Airport at 7am for a 80 minute flight to Denver. As we approached Denver the captain came on the loud speaker and said they were having super bad fog in Denver and we were in a holding pattern. About 20 minutes later he came back on and said the weather in Denver was getting worse and we were going to have to land somewhere to refuel. As we were landing in BFE Colorado all of a sudden it sounded like we were taking on like fricking flak or something. The captain came on and said we had just been hit by a bird but everything was OK. After waiting 2 hours for a “certified” United inspector to make sure the plane was OK, then the short flight to Denver, waiting a hour or so to get rebooked, I am finally set to go and am currently sitting in the East United Red Carpet Club in the Denver Airport where I am writing this.
While we were on the ground waiting for fuel/inspection of bird strike I got thinking about all to people who tell me they don’t attend industry conferences/events because of their fear of flying. It’s VERY common.
6 years ago when I went to my first conference I was shitting bricks. I had a MAJOR fear of flying. I did not think there was a possibility the plane was going to crash I was sure of it!!!!!
It took me a long time to get over my fear of flight. I don’t think anyone (including my wife) knew how scared I was to fly.
It was not until I started doing some research online and educating myself as well as doing some cognitive behavior techniques that I started to do better.
I know a bunch of people out there are like, “Shoe, did you know that USA TODAY did a report that your odds of being in a fatal airplane crash are xxxxxxxxxxx to 1”.
GUESS WHAT JERKY. That doesn’t help me when the captain comes over the loud speaker and tells us that he would normally never land a plane in these conditions but we are running out of fuel and need to get on the ground – then we come out of the clouds sideways in a CRJ-200 with golfball size hail pelting the hell out of the plane and it feels like we are flying in a hurricane. You can shove your stats up your ass! When its doing down I’m crying like a bitch making promises to God that I will never be able to keep (like I will never masturbate again). (That actually happened to Tigh and I last summer – the bad plane ride part.).
So… here is what helped/helps me. Now I am cool as ice on planes. Even in a shit storm.
1) More flying (duh). The more you do it the easier it is. I am going to cross 75k miles this year pretty easily. I think I’ve spent more time in a plane then in my H2. The plane rides smoother (and probably gets better gas mileage).
2) Know the stats. It does give me some comfort to know that like 95% of airline fatalities happen within the first or last minute of the flight.
3) Learn about turbulence – Almost all airborne anxiety comes from turbulence. My wife puts on a death grip every time we hit a bump.
4) Make sure your seat belt is low and tight (always). In my hundred so flights I have seen probably a handful of injuries where people have actually hit the ceiling from totally unexpected turbulence. The seat belt sign was not on at any of these times.
5) Control your breathing. – If you start to have a panic attack take deep breaths in (hold for 5 seconds) then out (hold for 5 seconds) repeat until you start to chill. Make sure you are taking DEEP breaths with your diaphragm and not just half ass ones cause you will pass out from hyperventilating.
6) Scare the shit out of yourself. – I actually got this tip from DR Jack Shepard in the very first episode of LOST season 1. He told Kate when he gets a panic attack he tells himself to bring it for 10 seconds and scare the crap out of himself. Sometimes when I feel a little panicky I will be like ok lets do it (thinking to myself) OMG WE ARE GOING DOWN (picturing crashing and blood and guts everywhere) then thinking about what people would say about me and how my family would go on. This works amazingly well when I have used it in the past (I think I did it like once). You feel totally calm and thankful to be alive.
7) Focus on your happy place. There has to be something that gives you an enormous amount of joy in this world. What ever that is focus on it. For me it used to be World of Warcraft (I know NERD ALERT), Then it was my wife, and now it’s my daughter Juliet.
Well my plane is about to take off. While I tried to keep it on the lighter side I really hope some of these tips help you guys.
And if anyone has any other tips to ad please do so!
69 thoughts on “Fear Of Flying?”
You left off Xanax. I fly fairly frequently and the more I fly the worse my anxiety gets.
Xanax actually has a huge up and down effect. Can create massive mood swings. Its one of the more dangerous Benzos.
I would recommend not turning to drugs unless absolutely necessary
I’ve never experienced any adverse effects. I heart Xanax.
Great stuff Jeremy, just remember that flying is safer than driving will ever be.
Now who’s scared of driving?
Good advice Shoe. I will add that if you are afraid of flying, it helps to start some of those things before you get on the plane and even go to the airport- although you might not want to be chanting and looking too odd while in the terminal, as I’m sure you can imagine the outcome. (Hi TSA!)
I second Xanax. I fly 3-5 times a month, yet every flight, I’m the pansy running to the bathroom as soon as the seatbelt signs go off, hogging the bathroom to throw up. Nerves can get the best of you. I’ve also made a number of promises to God…
I have 2 Kalms 2 hours before I fly, several alcobrews and 2 more Kalms just before I get on the plane then I am pretty much OK. Definitely, the more you do it, the easier it gets. Last time I flew I almost forgot to take my Kalms, I was so chilled! Not like the sweaty palmed, shaking wreck that I used to be!!
Another thing you can do to get over your fear of flying is to make yourself do this once… After that, everything else is cake.
rep++ this works for me too.
Back in the day before I got my hands on a Xanax prescription, I would take a couple of dramamines followed by a few heinekens… that seemed to work for me. Could’ve just been the Heinkens though.
Nowadays, I take my xanax but no matter what I STILL get sweaty palms and there is no logic in the world that will help me feel better about the whole thing. The thought of plummeting thousands of feet is not a pleasant one… no matter what the stats.
Most people I know just get tanked.
I bury my face in a really thick trashy novel. I probably wouldn’t even notice if we went down.
I actually enjoy flying. Gives me a chance to catch up on my reading.
Funny, people who are afraid of flying remind me of the Jehovah Witnesses riding the bikes. 🙂
It is way safer to fly then to drive. I have a friend that I make fun of – every time we fly, he freaks out. 🙂
I dont mind flying at all, got use to it after a few US-Uzbekistan 24 hour flights… but it was exciting the first time. 🙂
Half way through i was preparing myself for “And i got through my fear by buying XXXX ebook. It really is a steal at $20”
i was preparing for â€œAnd you can read it in my new book, Flying for Dummiesâ€³
but then something reminded me that his name is not Seth Godin. 🙂
uggggg.. I’ve got to fly next may, for the first time… for my honeymoon! I’m scared to death of heights and scared to death to get on a plane and I’ve suffered from panic attacks for 20 years!
Dunno if this post helped me or not hahaha
i never have been afraid of flying but the week before last me and my wife were returning from a cruise and we had the worst turbulence i have ever experienced at one point the plane did that quick drop thing and everyone that didn’t have their seat belt on about hit the ceiling. that’s about as scared as i have been on a plane. i’m still waiting for my wifes claw marks to heal on my arm
I’m absolutely petrified of flying, but this post is hilarious.
A nice post from you jeremy. As for me, I have not any flight experience whatsoever (i shouldn’t be cruxified for that, I never had the cause to that yet) in my life. But in my experience of handling fright, I think taking a deep breath as jeremy said is important to ease the tension.
I always love to picture the successful end of the whole situation. That is, what a mind of man can conceive it will achieve. I picture a successful end, and it will come to pass. I learnt something from buddha…
“ALL THAT WE ARE IS THE RESULT OF WHAT WE HAVE THOUGHT”
Smoking, lots of smoking outside of the terminal, then whatever shots you can get in the airport bars. That’s how I get through it.
I used to think airline travel was cool until I took the first plane out of San Fran one morning. First plane out = we find the turbulence for everyone else. Not cool…..
I was came down to Columbus OH in the middle of a pretty severe lightning storm around midnight. I have never seen that much turbulence.
I really like that you listed lots of options that are drug free (not that I’m opposed to drugs or anything). But when flying water and deep breaths are the way to go!!
I started think about #6 (Jack & Kate) when you mentioned #5. 🙂
Have a safe trip!!
LOl… I could remember the moment when I had my first flying experience.. And that was terrible… I could hardly explain my feelings that time.. Then there I have concluded that I wouldn’t be trying a plane ride again.
These days, if you aren’t willing to fly, you have just succeeded in making the world a much larger place. Yes, you can do much of what you need to do over the internet, but think about how much more limited your experiences will be if you can’t/won’t fly.
I usually pop a sleeping pill before entering the plane.
Thanks. I read somewhere, ear plug is something you need to use more often inside.
Great post Jeremy.
The promises were classic.
Im afraid of flying as well, but I have been on only 3 flights and the 3rd one Was.
Everything was good except giving advice on panic attacks.
I never did ride a plane before so I don’t really know if I have a fear or not.
I don’t have a fear of crashing but when I fly, I freak because I have a constant sensation of falling. I was sitting on the balcony at a restaurant on top of a 14 story building. I saw a plane flying overhead and immediately felt that same sensation. I fly because I have to but after years, the feeling has never waned. Being distracted helps, fewer planes have movies but a portable DVD player can do wonders.
You want to get rid of your fear of flying?
Go flying in Papua New Guinea in a 4 seater Cessna with mountains and rain.
That will sort you out !
So,that means this post was no cinch for us to get it,you nearly got killed,Yeah?
Given that someone must be die in a certain flight,but I think I shall be more cool-headed with your tips,even if the result is same
was that google translate from your native language?
Even though I fear flying this made me laugh so much!
I had to fly recently to see my very ill grandmother. Once the plane started to taxi I started to panic big time! I’d flown plenty before and never liked it but this time I was in big trouble! I pictured myself screaming down the isle to get off! My husband was not impressed when I said “I have to get off the plane!”
He joked with me and I proceeded to find it impossible to breathe. I swore I would not fly back and would not go to France as planned! (Australia to France….FORGET.IT!) Once he agreed I knew I only had 40 minutes until landing in Sydney and all would be well. 🙂
Your tips are really great because I know I’m missing out if I don’t get over it…..Maybe when my kids are older I’ll travel the world. Thanks for the raw post, I loved it!
I flew a heck of a lot as a kid (long haul international flights). I used to annoy the crapola out of everyone on the plane, loudly saying “Wheeee!” everytime there was any turbulence. My mom used to get SO mad with me.
Now, that I am a mom myself, all the What IF’s fly into my head when I’m airborne, and I *really* struggle with it sometimes. I repeat to myself that it’s easier to die crossing the street, (or at least the odds say so) than flying in a plane.
Since 9/11, I’m less concerned about actual air safety, than hi-jackers, so I also have fun amusing myself with how I would go into Rambo mode if ever faced with hi-jackers and would single-handedly save the day when called upon to do so – by the time I’m done with *that* fantasy the turbulence and or flight is usually over and my problem is solved.
I donâ€™t think your pic on this post is helping those who have a fear of flying. Hahaha
Thank God you landed safely no doubt it would be exciting adventure for you 😉
Just wanted to say.Thanks for this post. I would fly,but still very paranoid about it and the post made me think. I live far from any family and flying would make things so much easier. Thanks!!!
Great tips. You know in my country there are a lot of air plane crashes. Maybe the most in the world. How could you relax knowing this?
In which country you are living ?
Of course 95% of crashes happen withing the “last minute of the flight.” Silly goose.
So you accepted –
“I donâ€™t think anyone (including my wife) knew how scared I was to fly.”
and now everyone knows it.
But nice to see that you have tackle it nicely.
My fear of flying actually came on gradually. When I was a kid I didn’t have any problem with it. As I started to grow up, the fear grew.
Thus I haven’t flown since 1991.
Well, actually 100% of fatal airplane accidents happen on the last minute of the flight…
If I could get away with never flying, I would. As it is, I go of my way to avoid it as much as possible. Plus, if you live in the Pacific Northwest like I do, why would you ever want to leave?
Shoebuddy, I don’t wanna scare ya but have you encounterred a ‘fume event’? Check out aerotoxic syndrome (btw, AEROTOXICSYNDROME.COM is available for sale on Sedo). Now that’s a scarry thing that is difficult to calm down about!
Better still fly in games to get used to it.
There is nothing that would have caused me to be alarmed in any part of your story. People with a fear of flying interpret any message from the captain into one that backs up their fear claim. You are more likely to get in fatal car accident with in a few miles of your home, but for some reason people with a fear of flying are totally ok with having better odds of dying as long as its on the ground.
This is a great example of why I drive or take the train!! Planes are getting worse every day. 🙁
Jeremy, another technqiue you didn’t list is to partake in membeship of the ‘mile high club’ wherein you can benefit from the comfort of a cuddle and other soothing contact that may result in satisfying relaxation that may be beneficial in overcuming one’s fears.
The stats part help me out the most. I mean, c’mon flying is far more safer than driving so..
The first time I flew, I was scared poopless. The next time, it was pretty easy. I guess like anything else.
I love flying. Take off is always my favorite. I get excited every time, especially when the flight is going home to my family.
I always try to wear jeans on a flight for several reasons. First, it may protect you from cuts or scrapes. Secondly, if you land in the water, and assuming you live through it, you can always use your jeans as a flotation device. Tie the ends of the legs together and blow blubbles underneath. It’s a survival trick I learned many years ago.
Most of all, the one thing that gets me through turbulence or that “fear of flying,” is knowing where you’re spending eternity
All you’ve gotta think is…
What’s the worst that can happen…?
Ok, maybe that’s not good…
Ah well, beer should do it 🙂
If you ask whats the worst that could happen in a plane then you might as well do it in your car every time you get in too.
Cool tips,Shoe. I love flying, but what scares me is that the time when the flight is going to take off or landing down.
Lost definitely teach you a lot about overcoming your fears, huh…
I am very afraid to fly. This is a real test.
“It does give me some comfort to know that like 95% of airline fatalities happen within the first or last minute of the flight.”
Actually, 100% of airline fatalities occur within the LAST moments of the flight :).
I have flied 4 times.
i think it is ok to be afraid to fly, i was to when i fly 1 time, now i like it , i like the start, so now i think it is cool, so dont worry, everything it is ok!! 🙂
Xanax can have some adverse side effects and as stated avoid if at all possible..flying is one of the safest forms of transportation available ..when you consider how many planes are flying around the world each day.Make sure you get an internal seat away from the windows and then try to focus that you are at the movies in a comfortable chair…An a couple of bevvies is also good to go.
Youâ€™re website has very good infos. I learned very a lot from reading these.
Great advice Shoe, just like always guess the more you fly the faster the fear goes away, but as alwaysâ€¦it depends on the person.
did you watch LOST ? wow, I like it a lot .
as jeremy said, taking a deep breath is a good way to relax myself. It is usefull wverywhere
A great gesture to share your fears with your readers. However, I strongly feel that # 7 needs no be # 2 & explained in much more detail as we can have much more productive results in facing our fears by dealing with our fears where they are; in our heads. What would you think?
Yeah, love the tips.
Once when I experienced turbulence on a Florida Express plane the fear of flying began.
After that, I nearly cried on a subsequent flight and almost asked the flight attendant to sit next to me.
I pray a lot, asking Jesus, “Okay, I want to go to heaven but not like this, and not today — please keep this plane in the air and let it land safely!”
A glass of red wine is cool, too.
I also like the deep-breathing technique — and just REALLY knowing for sure that I’ll be in paradise if that plane goes down, heaven forbid.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep when I’m older and have done what I’m supposed to do on this earth.
Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.
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