Flights: How to beat a fear of flying – expert shares best ways to stay calm

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Flights can be pretty stressful for even the most confident of fliers at times. Spare a thought, then, for those who are terrified of boarding an aircraft no matter how calm the flight. Fortunately, there are ways to fight this fear of taking to the skies.

The key, an expert has said, is finding out what it is that really triggers your anxiety.

Niels Eék, psychologist and co-founder of the mental wellbeing platform, Remente, shared his travel advice and explained that humans these days are so used to having information at the tip of their fingers that feeling out of control can spark anxiety.

“A fear of flying can be attributed to the fact that we are used to having instant access to information,” he told

“This helps us quickly research and understand almost anything that is unknown to us, but when we are not able to do this, or when we are left in an uncontrolled situation, it often triggers feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety.

“Luckily, there is a lot of information out there to explain what common triggers, such as turbulence, mean.

“If you have a fear of flying, do some research to try to get a better understanding of your fears.”

Pilot Patrick Smith offered some words of comfort in his book Cockpit Confidential about turbulence.

The good news is that it’s never as bad as passengers might think.

While turbulence can make it feel like the plane is dropping “hundreds of feet” at a time, it actually isn’t.

“People have a habit of embellishing even the basic sensations of flight,” the pilot said.

“They can’t always help it – nervous flyers especially – but the altitudes, speeds and angles are perceived to be far more severe than they really are.

“During turbulence, people sense that an airplane is dropping hundreds of feet at a time, when in reality, the displacement is seldom more than ten or twenty feet – barely a twitch on the altimeter.

“It’s similar with angles of bank and climb. A typical turn is made at around fifteen degreed, and a steep one might be twenty-five.

“The sharpest climb is about twenty degrees nose-up, and even a rapid ascent is no more severe than five degrees – that’s right – nose down.”

Eék advised those worried when flying to close their eyes and take long deep breaths to help calm them down.

“Remind yourself that the fear is primarily due to the fact that you are not in control, but there are flight attendants and a pilot that are, and will, keep you safe,” he advised.

However, if travellers continue to be anxious about flying it might be worth trying a form of therapy.

“If you suffer from a fear of flying, you can try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) to help teach you ways to control your phobia and help you develop better coping mechanisms when you feel the anxiety creep up,” said Eék.

“As part of CBT, you can try exposure therapy, which involves increasing your exposure to your phobia to minimise your phobia or until you stop being afraid of it.

“Exposure therapy is a very gradual process, increasing your tolerance little by little, and while very effective for some people, it might not work for others. Always advise with a professional before starting any treatment.”

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