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How To Overcome Fear Of Flying: Top Essential Tips To Cope


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Henrie Presnell



For many people, the thought of flying can evoke feelings of fear and anxiety. Whether it’s the fear of heights, the fear of being in a confined space, or the fear of not being in control, the fear of flying can be a daunting challenge to overcome. However, with the right knowledge, preparation, and techniques, it is possible to conquer this fear and enjoy the many benefits of air travel.


In this article, we will explore the top essential tips to cope with the fear of flying. From understanding the root causes of your fear to practicing relaxation techniques, we will provide you with practical strategies to make your next flight a more enjoyable and stress-free experience. So, let’s dive in and discover how to overcome the fear of flying.


Before we delve into specific tips, it’s important to note that everyone’s experience with the fear of flying is unique. What works for one person may not work for another. The key is to be patient with yourself and experiment with different techniques to find what works best for you.


Whether you’re a first-time flyer or have been flying for years, understanding the root causes of your fear is crucial. Fear of flying can stem from various factors, such as a fear of heights, a fear of the unknown, or a fear of not being in control. Identifying the underlying cause of your fear can help you address it more effectively.


Now that we have a better understanding of the fear of flying, let’s explore some practical strategies to help you prepare mentally and emotionally before your flight.


Understanding the Fear of Flying

The fear of flying, also known as aviophobia, is a common phobia that can cause intense anxiety and distress. It can manifest in various ways, such as panic attacks, excessive sweating, and a racing heart. Understanding the root causes of this fear is the first step in overcoming it.


One of the main factors behind the fear of flying is a fear of heights, also known as acrophobia. Being thousands of feet above the ground can be unsettling for some individuals, triggering feelings of unease and fear. It’s important to remember that airplanes are built to withstand even extreme weather conditions, making them incredibly safe and stable.


Another factor that contributes to the fear of flying is a fear of being in a confined space. With limited mobility and no immediate escape routes, individuals with claustrophobia may experience heightened anxiety during flights. It can be helpful to remind yourself that aircraft cabins are designed to be spacious and comfortable, and flight attendants are always available to assist you.


For some people, the fear of flying is driven by a fear of losing control. Being in an aircraft means relinquishing control to the pilot and the flight crew. This lack of control can be uncomfortable for individuals who prefer to be in charge of their surroundings. However, it’s important to recognize that airline pilots undergo rigorous training and adhere to strict safety protocols, ensuring a smooth and secure flight.


Understanding the root causes of your fear of flying can help you process your emotions and develop effective coping strategies. By challenging any irrational beliefs and educating yourself about the safety measures in place, you can start to reframe your perception of flying.


Now that we have explored the underlying causes of the fear of flying, let’s move on to the next section to learn how to prepare mentally and emotionally for your flight.


Prepare Mentally and Emotionally

Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally is an essential part of overcoming the fear of flying. By adopting a proactive mindset and practicing positive self-talk, you can significantly reduce anxiety and increase your confidence before your flight.


Firstly, it can be helpful to acknowledge and accept your fear of flying. Understand that it is normal to feel anxious about something that is outside of your comfort zone. By acknowledging your fear, you can begin to take steps towards conquering it.


Next, try to shift your mindset from fear to curiosity and excitement. Instead of focusing on the potential negative aspects of flying, remind yourself of the incredible experiences and opportunities that await you at your destination. Visualize a successful and enjoyable flight, imagine yourself arriving safely and having a great time at your destination.


Another effective technique is to practice deep breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help calm your nervous system and reduce anxiety. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. You can also try progressive muscle relaxation exercises, where you systematically tense and release each muscle group in your body.


Aside from deep breathing exercises, mindfulness and meditation can also be effective in calming your mind and reducing anxiety. Take a few moments before your flight to sit quietly, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Allow any anxious thoughts to come and go, without judgment or attachment. By practicing mindfulness, you can cultivate a sense of inner peace and tranquility.


Another useful tip is to distract yourself during the flight. Engage in activities that can divert your attention from your fear. Bring along a book, listen to music, watch a movie, or play a game on your smartphone or tablet. Keeping your mind occupied can help alleviate anxiety and make the time pass more quickly.


Lastly, it can be beneficial to visualize yourself successfully overcoming your fear of flying. Imagine yourself boarding the plane confidently and calmly. Visualize yourself during the flight, feeling relaxed and enjoying the experience. By repeatedly visualizing a positive outcome, you can rewire your brain to associate flying with positive emotions, ultimately reducing your fear.


Preparing yourself mentally and emotionally is a significant step towards conquering the fear of flying. By adopting a positive mindset, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in distractions, you can build your confidence and make your next flight a more enjoyable experience.


Learn About Airplane Safety

One of the most effective ways to alleviate the fear of flying is by educating yourself about airplane safety. Understanding the rigorous safety measures in place can help dispel any irrational fears and provide reassurance during your flight.


Start by familiarizing yourself with the safety features of the aircraft. Pay attention to the pre-flight safety demonstration, which includes information on seatbelt usage, emergency exits, and oxygen masks. Knowing the location of emergency exits and how to use safety equipment can help you feel more in control and prepared.


It can also be helpful to learn about the structural integrity of airplanes. Modern aircraft are designed and built to withstand extreme conditions, including turbulence and lightning strikes. Researching the engineering behind airplanes and the stress tests they undergo can help you gain confidence in their ability to withstand any challenges encountered during a flight.


Additionally, educate yourself about the role of the flight crew. Pilots are highly trained professionals who undergo rigorous training and adhere to strict safety protocols. They possess the skill and knowledge to handle any potential issues that may arise during a flight. Knowing that there are competent individuals in control of the aircraft can provide a sense of security.


Another aspect to consider is the safety record of airlines. Research the safety ratings and track records of airlines you are considering flying with. Reputable airlines prioritize safety above all else and have strict maintenance schedules for their aircraft. By flying with an airline that has a solid safety record, you can further alleviate any concerns about your flight.


Lastly, it can be helpful to stay informed about aviation safety statistics. Gathering information on the safety of air travel, such as the low likelihood of accidents or incidents, can help put your fear into perspective. Understanding that flying is statistically one of the safest modes of transportation can help ease anxiety and provide reassurance.


By arming yourself with knowledge about airplane safety, you can rationalize your fears and gain confidence in the security and reliability of air travel. Learning about the safety features of the aircraft, the competence of the flight crew, and the industry’s safety standards can help alleviate anxiety and improve your overall flying experience.


Stay Informed about the Flight Process

One of the best ways to alleviate anxiety and fear of flying is by staying informed about the flight process. Understanding what to expect before, during, and after your flight can help you feel more prepared and in control.


Start by familiarizing yourself with the check-in process. Know the location of the check-in counters and the necessary documents you need to have on hand. Arriving early at the airport can give you ample time to navigate the check-in process without feeling rushed or stressed.


Research the boarding process of the airline you will be flying with. Each airline may have different boarding procedures, such as assigned seating or groups based on ticket class. Understanding how the boarding process works can help you navigate the crowd more comfortably and minimize any confusion or anxiety.


It’s also important to be aware of the security procedures at the airport. Familiarize yourself with the rules and restrictions regarding liquids, electronics, and other items in your carry-on luggage. Knowing what to expect at the security checkpoint can help you prepare in advance and reduce any stress or anxiety related to the process.


During the flight, understand that turbulence is a normal occurrence and not a sign of danger. Turbulence is caused by atmospheric conditions and is simply a bumpy ride rather than a safety issue. Knowing this can help you feel more at ease during periods of turbulence.


Furthermore, be aware of the in-flight announcements and instructions from the flight crew. The crew members will provide important information about the duration of the flight, weather conditions, and any potential changes or updates. Paying attention to these announcements can help you stay informed and feel more connected to the flight process.


Lastly, educate yourself about the landing process. Understand that landings are carefully executed by the pilot and are a routine part of every flight. Knowing what to expect during the landing, such as changes in altitude and possible braking sensations, can help demystify the process and reduce any anxiety.


By staying informed about the flight process, you can eliminate uncertainties and have a better understanding of what to expect. Being knowledgeable about check-in procedures, boarding processes, security measures, and in-flight announcements can help you feel more prepared and in control, ultimately reducing your fear of flying.


Practice Relaxation Techniques

When facing the fear of flying, practicing relaxation techniques can be highly effective in reducing anxiety and promoting a sense of calm. By incorporating these techniques into your pre-flight routine and during the flight, you can help alleviate stress and keep anxiety at bay.


Deep breathing exercises are a fundamental relaxation technique that can be practiced anywhere, including during a flight. Take slow, deep breaths in through your nose, hold the breath for a few seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth. This technique helps regulate your heart rate and promote a sense of calmness.


Progressive muscle relaxation is another technique that involves tensing and then relaxing different muscle groups in your body. Start with your toes and work your way up to your head, tensing and releasing each muscle group as you go. This technique helps release tension and promotes a feeling of overall relaxation.


Meditation and mindfulness exercises can be incredibly beneficial for calming the mind and reducing anxiety. Find a comfortable position, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Allow any thoughts or worries to come and go without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, you can bring your attention to the present moment and cultivate a sense of inner peace.


Visualization is a powerful relaxation technique that involves creating mental images of relaxing and positive experiences. Before your flight, visualize yourself in a calm and comfortable state, imagine being on the plane and feeling relaxed and at ease. By consistently visualizing positive outcomes, you can rewire your brain to associate flying with tranquility and relaxation.


Distraction techniques can also be helpful in redirecting your focus away from fear and anxiety. Engage in activities that captivate your attention, such as reading a book, listening to music, or watching a movie. These distractions can help occupy your mind and divert your thoughts from worrisome feelings.


Additionally, consider using calming essential oils or soothing music to create a relaxing atmosphere. Lavender, chamomile, and bergamot essential oils are known for their calming properties and can be applied to your pulse points or used in a diffuser. Listening to soothing music can also promote relaxation and create a calming ambiance during your flight.


Remember, relaxation techniques may not eliminate your fear of flying entirely, but they can significantly reduce anxiety and provide a sense of control. Practice these techniques regularly, both before and during your flight, to help manage your fear and make your flying experience more comfortable and enjoyable.


Engage in Distractions and Entertainment

When it comes to overcoming the fear of flying, engaging in distractions and entertainment can play a vital role in keeping your mind occupied and reducing anxiety. By immersing yourself in enjoyable activities during your flight, you can divert your attention and make the journey more enjoyable.


One popular form of distraction is reading. Bring along a book or magazine that you’ve been wanting to read or delve into a genre that captivates your interest. Losing yourself in a compelling story can transport your mind away from any fear or anxiety and make the time fly by.


If reading isn’t your preferred choice, consider listening to music or podcasts. Create a playlist of calming or uplifting music that helps relax your mind and enhance your mood. Alternatively, explore podcasts on a topic you find interesting or inspiring. These audio distractions can entertain and engage you, providing a positive diversion from any fear or worry.


Watching movies or TV shows is another excellent way to pass the time during a flight. Load up your device with your favorite films or catch up on a series you’ve been meaning to watch. Airlines often offer in-flight entertainment systems as well, allowing you to choose from a variety of movies, TV shows, and even games. By immersing yourself in a captivating visual experience, you can distract your mind from any anxious thoughts.


If you prefer a more interactive form of distraction, consider playing games on your smartphone or tablet. There are countless gaming apps available that can keep you engaged and entertained throughout your flight. From puzzle games to trivia challenges, you can find something that suits your interests and helps keep your mind off any fear or nervousness.


If you’re traveling with a companion, engage in conversation or play a card game together. Sharing stories, laughter, or engaging in friendly competition can help create a sense of connection and serve as a valuable distraction from any flying-related anxiety.


Finally, take advantage of the beautiful views and the unique experience of flying. Look out of the window and marvel at the clouds, landscapes, and city lights below. Appreciating the incredible sights you encounter during your flight can serve as a reminder of the wonder of travel and help shift your focus from fear to awe.


By engaging in distractions and entertainment, you can occupy your mind and create a sense of enjoyment during your flight. Find activities that align with your interests and preferences, and let them transport you into a world of entertainment, ultimately reducing any anxiety or fear associated with flying.


Seek Professional Help and Support

If you find that your fear of flying is persistent and impacting your ability to travel or enjoy flights, seeking professional help and support can be highly beneficial. There are various resources available that can provide guidance and assistance in overcoming your fear.


A licensed therapist or counselor who specializes in anxiety disorders or phobias can offer valuable insights and techniques to help you manage your fear of flying. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a commonly used approach that can help you identify and challenge negative thought patterns and develop coping strategies. Through therapy, you can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying causes of your fear and work towards overcoming it.


Additionally, there are specific programs and workshops designed to help individuals overcome the fear of flying. These programs often include education about aviation safety, exposure therapy, and relaxation techniques. Participating in such programs can provide a supportive environment where you can learn and practice strategies to conquer your fear.


Support groups can also be beneficial for individuals dealing with the fear of flying. Connecting with others who share similar experiences can provide comfort, understanding, and validation. These groups can be found online or in person, enabling you to share your fears, exchange coping strategies, and receive support from others who have successfully overcome their fear of flying.


Furthermore, consider reaching out to the airline you plan to fly with. Many airlines offer resources and programs for nervous flyers, such as dedicated helplines and even specially designed courses. They may provide additional information about their safety protocols and help address any concerns or questions you may have. Initiating this conversation with the airline can offer reassurance and support.


Remember, seeking professional help and support is a sign of strength and a proactive step towards overcoming your fear of flying. With the right guidance and support, you can develop effective coping mechanisms, build resilience, and regain confidence in air travel.


Don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage of the resources available to you. By accessing professional help and seeking support, you can embark on a journey towards conquering your fear and enjoying the freedom and adventures that come with flying.


Explore Alternative Travel Options

If your fear of flying persists despite your efforts to overcome it, exploring alternative travel options can still allow you to satisfy your wanderlust and explore the world without boarding a plane. Here are a few alternatives to consider:


1. Train Travel: Trains can be a scenic and relaxing mode of transportation. They often offer spacious seating, the opportunity to stretch your legs, and beautiful views along the way. Consider exploring destinations that are accessible by train and enjoy a more leisurely journey to your destination.


2. Road Trips: Embarking on a road trip can provide a sense of control and flexibility. You can plan your own itinerary, stop at various attractions along the way, and enjoy the freedom of the open road. Road trips offer the opportunity to explore destinations at your own pace, all while enjoying the journey itself.


3. Cruise Ships: If you are comfortable with being on a large vessel, cruise ships are an excellent alternative. They provide a range of onboard amenities, entertainment options, and the opportunity to visit multiple destinations without the need to fly. Cruises offer a relaxed and leisurely way to travel, allowing you to enjoy the journey as well as the destinations.


4. Bus or Coach Travel: Many destinations are accessible by long-distance buses or coaches. While not as fast as flying, this method can be cost-effective and allows you to enjoy the scenery along the way. Some bus companies even offer comfortable seating, Wi-Fi, and onboard entertainment options to enhance the travel experience.


5. Virtual Travel: If you want to explore the world from the comfort of your own home, virtual travel can be an engaging option. Utilize online platforms that offer virtual tours of famous landmarks, museums, and cultural sites. With just a few clicks, you can virtually visit destinations around the globe and experience different cultures and attractions.


Remember, it’s important to choose a travel option that aligns with your comfort level and allows you to enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Exploring alternatives to flying can open up a whole new world of travel possibilities and help you continue to satisfy your desire to explore and experience new places.


While these alternatives may not replicate the speed and convenience of air travel, they provide unique experiences and an opportunity to conquer your fear of flying by discovering new ways to travel and embrace different modes of transportation.



The fear of flying can be a challenging and overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to hold you back from exploring the world and embarking on incredible adventures. By implementing the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can take proactive steps towards overcoming your fear and making your flying experiences more enjoyable and stress-free.


Start by understanding the root causes of your fear and addressing them through education and self-reflection. Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally by adopting a positive mindset, practicing relaxation techniques, and engaging in distractions and entertainment during your flight. Seek professional help and support, whether it be through therapy, support groups, or programs specifically designed for fearful flyers.


If flying still proves to be too challenging, consider exploring alternative travel options such as train travel, road trips, cruises, bus or coach trips, or even virtual travel experiences. Each alternative offers its unique advantages and can still allow you to fulfill your travel goals and satisfy your wanderlust.


Remember, overcoming the fear of flying takes time, patience, and a willingness to step outside your comfort zone. Celebrate even the smallest victories along the way and be kind to yourself throughout the process. With determination, support, and the right strategies, you can conquer your fear of flying and embrace the freedom and excitement of exploring the world.


So, don’t let fear hold you back. Take that leap, board that plane, and embark on extraordinary adventures that await you. The sky is yours to conquer!