Fear of Flying: 4 Things to Know that May Help

If you’re a nervous flyer or one who fears getting up during a flight screaming in panic, this article is for you. Hope it helps.

Travel expert Rick Seaney and editor Anne McDermott look at possible solutions to this very real problem:

1. You are not alone

Some statistics claim as many as 25% of all passengers harbor some kind of fear of flying, but the true phobia (called by different names but often referred to as aviophobia) is more rare, afflicting only about 6.5% of the U.S. population.

Wait, did I just say only? That’s more than 20 million people! Maybe you’ll find comfort in knowing plenty of others share your fears.

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2. Flying is safe

This is indisputable. According to the latest statistics from 2012, air travel is safer than ever and much safer than any other mode of transportation. You’ve been involved in fender-benders, right? When was the last time you (or anyone you know) was involved in an aircraft accident? Sure, we’re in our cars more often but it’s still something worth pondering.

3. There is help

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Specific phobias respond very well to carefully targeted psychotherapy.” Cognitive-behavioral therapy is also said to be useful in treating anxiety disorders as are stress-management techniques. Some ideas to consider:

  • One-on-one treatment. Contact a medical professional specializing in phobias or ask your doctor for a recommendation.
  • Group therapy. Some suggestions from the non-profit Anxiety and Depression Association of America can be found here (or search ‘fear of flying’ and ‘support groups’ on the internet but investigate thoroughly).
  • Check with your airline. Virgin Atlantic for example offers a multi-faceted day-long workshop culminating in a short flight.
  • Study your fears. There are numerous books (and ebooks) on the subject – but whatever you do, do not confuse Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying with a self-help guide!

Seeking help is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about; and you’re not alone, remember?

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4. Flying equals freedom

Don’t deny yourself one of life’s great pleasures – the freedom to fly – without making an effort to overcome your fears. Because flying is freedom: There is no faster or safer way of getting around this world of ours. You may panic at the mere thought of getting help, but others have done it and overcome their fears. Maybe you can too.

More from Rick Seaney:

Fear of Flying? Some Good Things to Know


Published: October 8, 2013