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Leave behind your fear of flying

21.11.2014 at 07:00
Before a flight, do you feel skittish or experience stomach problems? You’re not alone.

A little fear of flying is common. According to some estimates, 20–30% of people suffer from it, and for 10%, the fear stops them from flying at all.

Reasons for fear of flying include claustrophobia and the unpleasantness of not being in control, more than 10 kilometres up, for hours. Also, baggage-loading and pre-flight checks of control surfaces can cause unnerving noises.

My first suggestion to alleviate fear of flying is to use mental exercises and relaxation techniques. Learning about the various noises that can be heard on a plane might help too.

You are in good hands

Did you know that flying is actually the safest form of travel? Statistically, it is safer to fly to the other side of the world than to drive from home to the airport car park.

When on a plane, you are in safe hands. The crew have appropriate first-aid skills, and the plane is equipped with all sorts of medication and equipment for emergencies. The pilots – and nowadays also the flight attendants – undergo a thorough medical-care examination regularly.

The equipment too is in fine shape: strict aviation control ensures that a plane in poor condition could never leave the ground. If something serious were to happen, the flight crew can contact an on-call doctor via satellite phone. And the plane can land quickly in an emergency.

If you nonetheless feel miserable, a few simple tricks may help. Illogical as this may sound, people suffering from nausea should not fly with an empty stomach. They might also want to be seated near the wings, where the movements of the plane can’t be felt as clearly.

A single drink before the flight might make you feel more relaxed, but drinking more than that is not a good idea. Having several drinks will only leave you more anxious, and the captain might even refuse you boarding. Unless absolutely necessary, I would not resort to sedatives.

If fear of flying keeps you from going on holidays or business trips, I recommend attending one of Finnair’s safety information courses for air passengers. They have helped many people. In these 1.5-day courses, you get to try a flight simulator and even go on an actual flight. I wish you many fearless trips!