8 Tips to Help Conquer Your Fear of Flying

To an experienced pilot, turbulence during take off, the sound of the landing gear retracting, and the noticeable reduction of engine power are all a normal part of their everyday job. To the fearful flyer, these same occurrences can be cause for sweating profusely while screaming profanities at the flight attendants.

The fear of flying is quite possibly the number one issue that keeps people from traveling. Bumpiness, lack of control, claustrophobia, and unfamiliar noises can all contribute to this angst, especially when you are up 39,000 feet off the ground!

But, in reality, the most dangerous part of your trip will probably be the drive to the airport.

Tips to Help Overcome the Fear of Flying phobia so you can Travel the World | Anxiety in Flight

According to the International Air Transport Association, an average of eight million people fly each and every day—365 days a year. That is equivalent to the entire population of Switzerland!

The odds of being killed in a plane crash are 1 in 11 million. The chances are greater of you being struck by lightning, dying from a bee sting, or becoming the president of the United States. Most people are not afraid of driving in a car even though the odds of dying in an automobile accident are 1 in 5,000. But, there is sense of security that goes along with being in control.

I understand.

Annette White in a helicopter in Geneva Switzerland

Several years ago, I was the traveler with the armpit perspiration stains and cursing everyone under my breath, especially myself for being dumb enough to get on the damn plane in the first place.

Prior to boarding, there was always a pit stop to the closest airport bar for a large glass of red wine, maybe two. During flights my husband would endure the death grip on his hand as my foot tapped uncontrollably. The beginning of descent was cause for counting and recounting the rows of seats between the nearest exit and me, just in case there was an emergency landing that required a rapid evacuation.

I thanked the “Airplane Gods” after every successful landing—and vowed to never fly again.

Airplane Window Photo

Short-term fixes using alcohol, especially when an average flight to Europe is twelve hours, was not a permanent solution. As they say, “knowledge is power” and understanding the facts about the rare occurrences of airplane crashes or terrorist activity was a good first step to me coping with this fear. But, there are many other tips that helped me and may help you to face your fear too.

8 Tips for the Fearful Flyer

1. Understand the Noises

Not knowing the noises the plane makes during takeoff, landing, and in flight can lead to believing all these unfamiliar sounds are tragedies about to happen. Learn the sounds of the wheels retracting during takeoff, the chimes that happen inside the cabin, and the noise of acceleration, so that your nerves will be eased.

READ MORE: Airplane Noises Explained for the Nervous Traveler
READ MORE: Which Plane Noises Should I Be Worried About?

2. Distract Yourself

Keep yourself busy with games, books, movies, or music. Sometimes one distraction is not enough for me, so I will use two — I’ll flip through a magazine while listening to music or watch a movie while playing games on my laptop. Prior to departure, buy yourself some fun airplane games or a big book of crossword puzzles to keep your mind busy.

READ MORE: 9 Things To Do on a Long Haul Flight to Cure Boredom
RELATED: 13 Free Games to Download for a Long Flight (That Don’t Require WiFi)

Annette White enjoying the view on Piaynemo island in Raja Ampat

3. Use the Glass of Water Trick

Ask for a glass of water, set it on your tray and watch how slightly the liquid moves, never spilling. This proves how little you are actually moving, even during most turbulence. The odds of that glass not spilling on a road trip are slim!

4. Research the Plane’s Structure

Take time to find out how airplanes are built and the safety measures taken each and every flight. Understanding the planes structure and how it is meant to be in the air can ease your fear.

How Things Fly is a great resource for learning about a plane’s structure, material, and aerodynamics.

Flying on a Plane with no fear

5. Ask for Assistance

Sometimes it can ease your nerves if you are vocal about your anxieties. Make the flight attendants aware of your fear and ask that they keep you posted on noises, flight patterns, and such. Plus, it has always been soothing for me to watch as they continue to work (with smiles on their faces) as there is turbulence.

6. Visit the Airport Prior to your Travels

If possible, go to a local airport and spend time watching the planes taking off, landing, and listening to the noises. Take special note of how many people are departing and arriving safely to their destination.

Snow topped Jura Mountains on the Switzerland-France Border

7. Consider Getting More Help

Prior to departure, take an online course at Soar or read the comprehensive guide at Fear of Flying, plus visit Ask the Pilot who covers an array of topics for the fearful flyer. There are hundreds, if not thousands of resources to help you. Here are a few more:

READ: Anxieties.com Fear of Flying Self Help Program
GET A BOOK: Soar: The Breakthrough Treatment For Fear Of Flying
READ: Nervous Flyer? We Tested 5 Ways To Help
VIDEO: Fear of Flying Help Video by Virgin Flying Without Fear Team
READ: Overcome Your Lifelong Fear of Flying with These 5 Apps

8. Realize You Are Not Alone

The rich, the famous, and businessmen fly safely all over the world all the time and thousands of people are flying right at this very moment.

There is an incredible world out there waiting to be explored, don’t let fear of flying keep you from living your dream of traveling, just take the steps to get that fear under control.

2019-01-06T14:42:44+00:00July 8th, 2017|Categories: TIPS + RESOURCES, TRAVEL|Tags: |


  1. Muhemmed Haider July 9, 2017 at 2:50 am - Reply

    Will narrate this to my wife as she gets a bit scared. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. BestTravelsandVacations July 14, 2017 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Fear of Flying !! Sounds Threatening.. these tips will really help me out of getting rid out of this.

  3. Miss Imee July 14, 2017 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    Traveling is also a major passion of mine, and I spend a lot of my free-time planning out future adventures. I would love to travel through South America sometime, especially Argentina. Something about the culture just speaks to me… not to mention, they make fantastic wine.

  4. Roman July 16, 2017 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Great review, but not for me.I love planes from my childhood. Now I know the plane crash statistics. And it shows, that car transport and buses are much more dangerous, than planes! Good luck!

  5. TCC em Blocos July 16, 2017 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the tips. I’m too scared to fly, but I’m still going to lose this fear.

  6. Pilot Mark July 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Great post! As a pilot, I see countless people every day at work who have to deal with their fear of flying. But the truth is, like you said, its totally safe and you’re actually taking a bigger risk when you cross the road in the city! Plus, people will always be in the hands of a professional. Thanks for sharing!

    • Annette White July 23, 2017 at 9:53 am - Reply

      It is such a common fear! I definitely feel more secure knowing that a professional is in charge, but there’s still a little uneasiness knowing that I am not in control 🙂

  7. Raymond Carroll July 26, 2017 at 2:37 am - Reply

    Great tips. I’m not the best ‘flyer’ and so I’ll keep these tips in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  8. John July 31, 2017 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    I got the fear of flying too. I will definitely follow your guide. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Ram Anzi August 18, 2017 at 4:39 am - Reply

    in the far past I used to travell long distances with joy
    Until one flight with quite strong air turbulence the makes me fearful of flying . a few years later I had to travel with uneasiness at first . By keeping myself busy during flights .Now I feel much more normal . Traveling .

    • Annette White August 18, 2017 at 12:06 pm - Reply

      Turbulence can be a little scary, but I am happy to hear that you are back to traveling!

  11. Izy Berry August 24, 2017 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Cool glass trick! Never thought about it that way. I read about plane turbulence once and found that the best place to sit and feel “less” of the turbulence is near the wings nearest to the center of the plane 🙂

    • Annette White August 24, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

      Great tip! I usually sit behind the wing, but I’m going to have to switch that up!

  12. Harry August 29, 2017 at 9:32 pm - Reply

    This is really for me. I have a fear of flying. I need to conquer it soon! Thanks for the tips.

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