7 Tips To Conquer Fear Of Flying

In 2012, a C130 flight from Manila to Bicol started the most paralyzing of fears that I had ever felt in my life. The turbulence was so rough it felt like my soul was being ripped away from my body. The plane turned and plummeted up in the air like the pilot has forgotten he had passengers. As if that is not enough, the machine was also making all these noises that had me imagining that if The Reaper has a theme song it’d probably be it. Since then, I dreaded every flight that I had ever taken. I jump at every sound the plane makes and a slight tilt of the plane gets my pulse racing. In those flights, not a book, not a food, not even a pleasant conversation with a friend could distract me from my Final Destination-ish thoughts.

What do you make of a traveler who hates flying? Yeah I know, ridiculous. One day I told myself, this fear has got to stop. I had to do something to conquer my fear, hence I started searching for ways that may help me deal with it. A few months before I took that plane to Boracay in April this year, I subjected myself to rigorous preparation. I am very pleased to report that my effort yielded positive results. So if you too are gripped with this fear, which I’ll be the first to say can be quite debilitating, let me share with you these 7 tips that may help you conquer or at least manage your fear of flying.

1. Start with the why

The first step to recovery for an alcoholic is to make him realize and accept that he is an alcoholic. It is kind of the same thing when dealing with the fear of flying; you have to acknowledge first that you have this fear and determine what causes it. As I mentioned earlier, my fear started in 2012. I tried to remember the things that happened that ultimately led to my flying anxiety. When you are able to pinpoint where the problem lies, you can start to find ways to specifically address it.


2. Observe your thoughts and feelings during flight

Up in the air and you feel the fear setting in, begin to observe your feelings and thoughts. Is your pulse racing? Are you sweating profusely? Does it feel like your hands are getting cold and clammy? Do you think that the plane might crash? Are you thinking about your loved ones and the fear that you may never see them again? Now take five deep breaths, just listen to your thoughts and let it all flow freely. Trying to control your fear, even if it’s baseless, is one of the hardest things to do so instead of wasting your energy trying to suppress it, let it flow through you.


After you’ve allowed yourself to think of these things, the next step is to start questioning these thoughts one by one. Why do you think the plane will crash? Are there existing conditions that tell this for a fact? Turbulence may be scary, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the plane would crash. Just question every negative idea that comes to your mind and try to reason with yourself. Continued practice weakens the power of these gloomy thoughts.

3. Look at the flight crew

If the plane is having problems, the flight crew will be the first to know. You may notice this in their demeanor; do they look anything but calm? If they look unworried and comfortable then so should you. You may argue that they are trained how to act in desperate situations, but if something is way out of control or if there is any cause of alarm, you can trust that they will all help you through the situation. Until then, just sit, relax, and enjoy the ride.

4. Listen to the pilot

The pilot normally informs his passengers about the weather condition, especially if there is a chance that the plane might experience some turbulence. Watch out for his announcements, and when he gives assurance that he has everything under control, take his word for it. Trust the pilot, he’s been trained to fly that plane, he knows exactly what he is doing.


5. Take the window seat

If you have flying anxiety I highly suggest you sit by the window. I know this may sound crazy especially if you are scared of heights but based on my experience, I tend to be more worried when I don’t have a view of what’s down below. When I sit by the window it somehow makes me feel in control, thereby mitigating my agitation. Also, the view of the clouds has a calming effect. Instead of worrying about things that may or may not happen, why not enjoy the view instead.


6. Meditate

Out of all the methods that I’ve tried, meditating is by far the most effective. If you have not tried meditating before, I suggest you start doing it at least one week before your scheduled flight. Meditation takes some getting used to so it’s best if your mind and body have been pre-conditioned before travel. Also, choose a guided meditation so your mind doesn’t start wandering off. There are several guided meditation videos on Youtube that you can listen to or better yet, download a mobile app that offers free meditation audio. I am personally using this app called, Insight Timer. As soon as the plane takes off, plug in your earphones, close your eyes, then listen to the soothing voice in the audio.


7. Listen to soft music

I find that listening to upbeat music only aggravates my anxiety. Listening to soothing and soft music, on the other hand, does the opposite. It encourages calm feelings and a relaxed state of mind. Just to give you an example, let me share to you my “Flying Playlist.” Click the title to hear the audio.


On a final note, the possibility of you dying in a plane crash is 1 in 11 million. It means you are more likely to die of a heart disease than a plane accident, so chill. It can be quite unnerving when you think about the fact that you are practically leaving your fate in the hands of the pilot but try not to worry. If you can’t stop yourself from worrying then use the tips above to distract yourself from your fear. I know though that we are all different and what may work for me may not work for you. So my advice is to never give up, research on it, try the suggested methods that you can find, see what works for you. Ultimately, just relax my friend, leave it to the hands of the experts, and enjoy the ride.

Do you have other tips to help overcome the fear of flying? If you do, I’d love to hear them in the comment below.

NOTE: The gifs were taken from the web.

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  1. I remember the first time I rode a plane, it was somehow painful to the ears. Then by college, I fly going home to province, in Albay, It made me feel more comfortable than traveling by land for at least 8 hours. I experienced a flight turbulence when I was going home, it was scary as it was my first. I just prayed to God and trusted the skills of the pilot and we safely landed! It was scary because I was alone then. But now, I prefer flying. 😀

  2. Dude I got a question.. why did you ride on a c130? medyo.. stress un!!!! Just think positive and relax dear!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    deep breathing exercises helps.. that and I like airplane food 🙂 hahaha or maybe i just love eating. LOL

  3. I enjoyed flying – okay I lie. I drink lots of water and wine during my flights and sometimes it is more than enough to doze me off pretty much until the food comes then I’ll have more wine and doze off. I’m usually pretty hangover when I land but then long flights usually comes in easy peasy 😀 If you don’t drink however watching interesting films can calm you down (at least worked well for me, I was 16 when I first had my long haul flight – just 22 hours).

    1. I haven’t experienced a flight that long, well that is because I’ve yet to go on my first trip abroad. But wow, 22 hours, it’d probably be a nightmare to anyone who has fear of flying.

  4. I never used to be scared of flying until a similar incident when I was around about 14, since then it has just gotten worse even now I am taking more flights than ever. I wish I could get rid of it, I have tried everything and it has got a little better but it is still quite hellish!!

  5. I don’t get nervous while flying but this is a great list of suggestions for those that do. Love your inclusion of the gifs. Yay supernatural! haha

  6. I used to get flights alone (with the supervision of a nice air hostess), from the age of five. I would do the forty minute flight from Isle of Man to see my mum’s family in Scotland about twice a year without my parents, so I’ve never been scared of flying – until about two years ago. I think we become more aware of our own fragility as we get older and all the recent disasters have just freaked me out! This was definitely useful for me, thanks.

  7. Some great tips there to deal with a problem more common amongst frequent travellers than people realise. I fly all the time, yet I hate it, and last year had an experience like yours, where the plane literally plummeted out of the sky without warning. Turns out it was just an air pocket, but it scared me stupid and I embarrassingly burst into tears. Me. The hardened traveller. Happens to us all! Glad it’s not just me 🙂

    1. It can get scary right? I still remember that flight but during that time I seem to be the only one who was scared shitless. The other passengers (the soldiers), some of them were even sleeping on the floor. I was like, why?! Hahaha…

  8. I’ve flown so many times and never even had a nervous thought about it. But when I am on the ground and hear about airplanes crashing I always am amazed that I don’t fear flying. I sat next to a lady who had a fear of flying recently. I pretty much talked to her the entire flight and I think it got her mind off of it. She barely even noticed the flight. Thanks for the info!

    1. I am also amazed at people who never had this fear. I wish I were the same as you Sarah. It’s really nice of you to talk with the lady during that flight. I’m sure she is quite thankful that you helped her in some way to forget her fear of flying.

  9. Hi Marge,

    I admit I also have a little bit of fear of flying. just a bit (excuses LOL!)

    And just recently I started meditating and it has a tremendous change in my life. So I think meditating while inside the plane is definitely a good idea. I will try that on my next flight. Thanks Marge

  10. Flying makes me excited. I could never sleep soundly the night before my flight. And on the flight itself, I always just tend to sleep or read. Glad you overcame your fears! I also recommend chamomile tea, though it will make you pee a lot haha. Loved the gifs! 😉

  11. I totally agree with point number 3 – I always take my cue from the cabin crew, if they don’t look bothered then I am not. I was never a fan of flying, although thankfully I never had a terrifying experience as you did, but now I do it so much its kind of like getting on a bus (albeit a luxury bus for sure).

  12. I only have one fear whenever I fly – The fear of experiencing Ear Barotrauma again. Well, it is more likely that I experience it every time I fly. However, I had that one flight where I experienced severe pain. That was horror!!. Thank God. I can manage and prevent the pain to strike again. Thanks for sharing this article 🙂

  13. hey Marge! I used to fear flying! On my first time as I remember clearly, I thought I was going to fall from the sky and die instantly! But then when I started doing it frequently, I conquered! hooraay!!!
    good read again! I hope we can fly together next time! =)

    1. That’s one of the things that you can do when you are scared of something, do it all the time. That’s a great tip Cathy and yes, hope we could fly together maybe next year. 🙂

  14. Well I usually drink a lot of camomille tea and sleep the whole time. It’s an easy remedy for domestic flights. An hour or two hours of sleep.

    As for intercontinental flights, well, i read a lot so i won’t think of anything else or watch really hilarious movies or stand-up comedies. They put me in a very good mood. if one is lucky, one effective way of overcoming fear of flight is to flirt with the other passenger if he’s good looking. otherwise, bury yourself with books. hahaha!

  15. If more than tips are needed – and they may be needed because claustrophobia and panic cannot be controlled by tips – get a copy of “SOAR: The Breakthrough Treatment for Fear of Flying” which was chosen Amazon Editors’ 2014 Favorite Book. Read the Amazon reviews and you’ll see why.

  16. thanks for this marge. glad to know you are overcoming your fears. on the opposite, flying makes me feel so happy. i can rest my head on 35,000 feet above sea level.

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