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Fear of Flying and How to Overcome It
Do you have a fear of flying? Here are some tips so that you can overcome your fear of flying. In today’s fast-paced environment, every one of us has to travel by plane for business or for personal reasons, some time or the other in our lives even if we detest and are utterly scared of flying. Stagecoaches are old fashioned. Ships are outdated except when they are used to transport cargo. And trains, though still in vogue, may be on their way out in certain places. Besides, you can’t let an assignment wait because you are afraid of flying. If you do that you might lose a valuable client and with it, a valuable contract and along with that, your job whether you are working in a company or whether you are managing your own business.
So if you have a fear of flying, what you have to do is not to avoid flying but to overcome your dread and fear of flying. Here is how you go about it.
• Take the Bull By the Horns – Board A Flight: Consider taking a flight for your next vacation. If you are on a business assignment, ask your secretary to book a flight ticket for you. If you are running your own business this should not be a problem. But if you are an employee in a company, you’ll get an air ticket only if you are a high ranking officer. In any case, do not shun flying. That will not help you to surmount your fear of flying. Try to board a plane for fulfilling an assignment, for closing a deal or if your objective is to enjoy the sun, sea and sand.
• Fly Light: Do not carry much luggage with you. Try to go for a short trip. At the most, you can carry one hand luggage and one main luggage, which will go into the cargo hold of the plane.
• Ensure that You Have Time: Check in, into the airport a couple of hours before departure so that there is enough time for security and baggage checks. Reaching the airport at the last moment can add to your anxiety and fear of flying if security personnel take long to get you through, choose to frisk you thoroughly.
• Follow Airport Instructions: Start walking towards the departure gate as soon as you hear the announcement made by airport officials that instructs passengers sitting in the departure lounge to walk towards the departure terminal. Get into the bus that will drive you to your plane or get into the aerobridge attached to the deck of the plane.
• Smile: Smile at the airhostess or flight steward who will greet you as soon as you board the plane. Smiling will make you feel lighter, happier and will help you to disperse your fear of flying.
• Avoid Flying Off the Handle: Try to find your seat yourself or ask a flight steward or an airhostess to direct you to your seat. Sitting on the wrong seat can lead to unnecessary scuffles with other passengers and can demoralize you before your flight takes off. I must warn you of one thing beforehand. Air travelers are not very well-behaved people.
• Your Fears are Baseless: Sit back and relax. You can pray a little if you want. But it is not compulsory because the plane WILL NOT CRASH. Remember one thing. The probability of an air crash is extremely low. But air crashes, whenever they happen, are blown out of proportion and are exaggerated into interesting media accounts and movies. In reality, the probability of a car or road or railway accident is much higher than the probability of an air crash. If you are that apprehensive on a plane, you should be even more apprehensive when driving a car or riding a train or when you are walking on the street. Because real statistics show that accidents on the road are not only far more likely than accidents in air but also that the total number of road accidents across the world exceed the total number of global air accidents by hundreds of thousands! So there is no substantial basis behind your fear of flying!
• Don’t Panic: When the plane starts moving, don’t get panicky. Tie your seat belt properly. If you are a first time flyer, let me tell you that tying your seat belt is the easiest thing in the world. You just have to take one end, put it around your waist, and fit it into the locker of the other end. You will hear a ‘click’ when that happens. Ask a steward or an airhostess to show you the way if you start fumbling. In any case, flight attendants tell you how to put on your seat belt while they are explaining the emergency exits to you. And besides, it is also mentioned in the chart (we shall deal with that in the next point). Accept the scented towel that the airhostess gives you and press it close to your face. The smell of the perfume in the tissue or the towel is so captivating that it will distract you from your fear of flying.
• Relax; it is Just a Routine Matter: Try to look at the flight attendant while they are instructing you on emergency exits. A chart will be given to you regarding emergency exits, oxygen masks, how you will tie your seat belt, what to do in case of an emergency, etc. This chart will be in the pocket that is fixed to the back of the seat in front of you. You can refer to the chart while following the airhostess’s instructions. But let me tell you that this is a routine procedure. The purpose of the chart is not to augment your fear of flying. DO NOT MISINTERPRET THE AIRHOSTESS’S INSTRUCTIONS AS A WARNING AGAINST IMMINENT DANGER. Do not ever assume that you have to be extremely well-versed with the instructions because your plane will crash. NO. YOUR PLANE WILL NEVER CRASH. It is just a procedure that the flight attendants have to tell you about, so that you are prepared if the worst comes to the worst. God forbid, that will never happen to you. So you can follow what the airhostess is saying if you want to or just casually glance at the chart. However, if you are a heart patient or suffer from asthma or breathing problems, you should know how to install the oxygen mask at a moment’s notice. But this i.e., your problem of requiring oxygen if you are a heart or an asthma patient, is something you would have to be alert about even if you are traveling in the hills, or by car or by train. It has nothing to do with traveling in air or an air crash.
• Be at Ease: Rest back. In any case, while taking off, the plane will compel you to rest backwards. Do not gaze out of the window. If you are prone to jitters, you might get butterflies in your stomach if you stare out of the window.
• Taking Off: Every plane starts moving in the same manner before taking off. It starts to run on its wheels on the tarmac very slowly at first until it comes to the final stretch of runway. Here, the plane accelerates until it starts racing down the runway at a speed of about 400 to 500 miles per hour. Trees whiz past and the tarmac starts disappearing. The very atmosphere outside becomes filmy before a sudden jerk tells you that you have been lifted into the air at an acute angle. The plane tilts heavily. At this point, it is advisable for people like you not to glance out of the window because you might feel giddy. In any case, the fast disappearing city and airport beneath will all appear to you to be slanted and will make you feel dizzy unless you are a seasoned flyer. Even seasoned, daredevil flyers with no fear of flying feel sick at this point of time. This is because the sudden jump into the air is accompanied by a change of air pressure within the plane that tends to make lots of passengers want to vomit. So, just shut your eyes and wait patiently until the plane starts flying horizontally and normally. Again let me repeat, there is nothing to be frightened of. The nausea and the whirring in your ears are things you will get accustomed to, soon enough. And in any case, if you feel like throwing up, it does not mean that the plane will crash. You can always vomit into the airbag fixed to the pocket in front of you.
• Medicines to Take On the Fly: I have advised many people who suffer from the ‘fear of flying’ syndrome to swallow a digestive-cum-anti-dizziness tablet before embarking on an airplane journey. It helps to quell the feeling of nausea when you are taking off. Different brands of prochlorperazine generally suffice for this purpose. Prochlorperazine is sold in different nations under different brand names such as Compazine, Stemetil, Stemzine, Buccastem, and Phenotil. Any one of them will do. But do not buy medicines off the counter. Please ask your doctor before you purchase any medicine that will help you to restrain nausea when you are flying. He or she will probably prescribe you one of the five brands mentioned above but you must ask him or her before you buy the stuff.
• The Lighter You Are, the Better You Can Fly: I also advise people to eat lightly before they board a plane. If you have had a heavy meal, there is more chance that you will feel sick while flying than if you have had a light meal. As the plane speeds through the atmosphere amidst clouds and with fluctuating air pressure, you might feel some churning in your stomach if you have eaten a heavy meal before getting into the plane. Also, take some cotton wads with you so that you can plug your ears with them when taking off. Lots of folks cannot stand the whirring in the ears that they suffer when there is a sudden alteration in air pressure, when the plane is taking off. You can also ask the flight attendants for cotton but it is better you take them with you so that you do not have to wait for the attendant to get you a piece of cotton.
• Fly High with Music: Music is a great healer. It can also help you to conquer your fear of flying. As soon as the plane starts flying in the air normally, take out the cotton and put the headphone instead to your ears. How will you know that the plane is flying normally? As soon as there is an announcement from the cockpit telling you that you may unfasten your seatbelts, you will know that the plane has begun to fly normally. This announcement comes typically 15 to 20 minutes after the plane has started its motion. Most airplanes provide headphones to their passengers nowadays. So instead of sitting and staring blankly into space, make use of the headphones. Listen to your favorite numbers, tracks and albums and forget that you are hanging in mid air. Listen to Mozart’s sonatas and symphonies, Beethoven’s symphonies or the beats of Elvis, Abba, Enrique, and Britney to keep your terrors at bay.
• Watch TV: Most international flights come with TV facilities. So, you can easily watch the film that is being shown on the main TV screen hanging in front of you, a few seats ahead, or watch your own TV that is attached to the back of the seat in front of you. Planes nowadays have become havens for movie buffs. You can watch any film that you want while flying because TV sets in planes are loaded with films of every genre and type.
• Bon Appetit, Bon Voyage: Eating while flying will definitely wipe away your fear of flying. Remember, I said that it is not recommended that you board a plane immediately after eating a heavy meal as this can give you airsickness? But there is no harm in eating once you are aboard. In fact, meals served in airplanes are strictly light so that passengers don’t feel like vomiting or going to the bathroom too often. Eating, at the best of times, is a great pastime. And it is all the more pleasurable in a plane as there is nothing much for you to do there. So, look forward to your meals with appetite and gusto. I can tell you that airplane food is delicious. Whether it is breakfast, lunch, snacks or dinner that they serve you, it is yummy and delectable and will erase your fears of flying away. I have coached many people who had deep-seated fears of flying. I told them to forget about dieting and weight problems while flying and to eat heartily as eating is the best therapy for such people. Sure enough, all of them have overcome their fears of flying, initially, by eating well on planes and finally, through intense counseling and frequent flying. Eating a good and tasty meal can really be entertaining. You can stick your headphones to your ears while you are munching your sausage, bacon, ham, or potato chips but I suggest that since eating is a better therapy than listening to music, remove your headphones during your meal and eat wholeheartedly. Food is always served neatly on flights in little packed trays where the cereal (bread or rice or noodles), the meat, and the dessert are given in separate containers. Cutlery comes in another additional little pack. Airplane food is served this way so that passengers find it convenient to handle the food when they place the trays on the flexible tabletops while they eat. Flexible tabletops may be unscrewed from the back of the seat in front so that you can place your tray of food on the tabletop. You can ask the flight attendants for juices and cold drinks as you eat. Alcohol and energy drinks are also served on international flights, but I do not recommend them. They might affect you adversely and then you might attribute your uneasiness in the air to your fear of flying instead of the alcohol. Enjoy the taste of the rice or the soft bread or the steak or the fish to the full and forget everything about what may happen if you crash land. Drink your fruit juice or soft drink to the lees and celebrate life!
Remember flying is all about celebrating life, not thinking of disaster and death. The airplane is an answer to one of humankind’s oldest cravings, the craving to fly like a bird, the craving to go places in a short time, the yearning to master the skies, the desire to prove that humans are the most resourceful and powerful animals on Earth. So enjoy every moment of your flight by gorging on scrumptious food, listening to heavenly music and watching blockbuster cinema and reading magazines.
• When You Fly, Time Flies: Whether your flight is a two-hour, a four-hour, a six-hour, or a twelve-hour flight, you’ll find that time flies while you are in the air. The longer your flight, the more chance you’ll have to eat mouthwatering food and listen to lovely music and watch all time great movies. Snacks are always sumptuous experiences beginning with tea, coffee, cakes and sandwiches and ending with ice creams. Flying at night can be a peaceful experience. Most of the lights in the plane are switched off except for the night lamps and blankets are distributed so that you can sleep comfortably. Some watch movies through the night. But I would advise you to sleep and relax. There is nothing to be tense about, nothing to worry about. Besides, dying in your sleep can be the best way to die. Hey! Hope you didn’t take that one seriously. Just pulling your leg. What I mean is that sleep is good for you. It can assuage all your fears of flying. Do not be anxious. You will always wake up alive and kicking and relaxed and in no other state but this. Sometimes, even if you want to take a nap, your sleep may be cut short. This happens when flight attendants serve food through the night. Some find this thrilling and some find this disturbing. But there are planes that really want you to have a good time while flying and so they serve food through the night – dinner, supper, beverages, drinks, snacks…..and breakfast. Another reason why you may not be allowed your beauty sleep when you are flying is when you have to stop at an airport in between to catch a connecting flight. This often happens when you are flying across continents. You might have to stop at the Dubai International Airport to take a connecting flight if you are flying from Asia to Europe or at an European airport in order to board a connecting flight if you are flying from Asia to the Americas. This disruption can cause a break in sleep but do not lose patience. You can take forty winks as soon as you board your connecting flight unless the flight attendants on the connecting flight start serving you food too.
• It is Not the Time to Worry When You Are on Cloud Nine: Lots of people get alarmed when their planes cut across clouds. If the plane is going to pass through a mass of clouds, you will be informed of it in advance through announcements from the cockpit. You will be told to sit in your seat and have your seatbelt on so that you don’t lose balance and fall while the plane is slashing forward through a cloud. There is no need to tremble and quake while your plane is bumping through a cloud. Flying through masses of wooly clouds is an everyday thing for pilots though it might be new to you. All you have to do is to sit still in your seat and wait patiently to be out of the cloud. There is no reason for you to get the heebie-jeebies. Your plane will never crash whether it is in or out of the clouds.
• The Joy of Landing: Before touchdown, once again, you shall be asked to don your seatbelt. The plane will start losing height so you can have a prochlorperazine pill so that you do not feel the ill effects. Buildings, roads, trees and vehicles will gradually come into view like objects on a game board about half-an-hour before you land. But if you still have a fear of flying, do not look downwards. Just sit back and close your eyes in your seat during landing until you feel the wheels hit the ground suddenly and forcefully. For most people who have a fear of flying, this is a moment to cheer. When the wheels hit the tarmac, they almost always breathe a sigh of relief and open their eyes wide with confidence for the first time. Okay, quite natural. The funny thing is that while they hated to open their eyes when the plane was racing down the tarmac before taking off, they seem to love to open their eyes and stare at the trees whizzing past and the ground speeding by, once the plane has landed. I know that you too feel the same way and that you too shut and open your eyes in the same manner because you have a fear of flying. But if you have flown at least once, you will know that there is really no cause for alarm. All the same, I don’t want to take away your fun when the plane finally lands, when the airhostess makes an announcement about the weather outside and hopes that you had a happy journey. I don’t grudge the joy that you feel for having landed safely or laugh at you because you thanked the Lord for your safe journey because I guess that we should be thankful for the smallest things of life.
• Fear of Flying Graph: By the time, it is your second flight, you will become definitely more adventurous. By the third flight, you shall become confident. By the fourth flight, you might be able to help other passengers with their seatbelts. By the fifth flight, you may actually want to pursue a career in flying and piloting or regret not having been a pilot if you have passed the age. By your sixth flight, you will get so addicted to that soaring feeling that you shall actually begin to love flying. By the seventh flight, you will still feel heady but will start to find flying routine. By the eighth flight, you might get a trifle bored unless you eat or listen to music or watch TV constantly. By your ninth flight, flying will be a means by which you can relax between hectic conferences and meetings. And by your tenth flight, when you have shed the last traces of your fears of flying, flying will seem no different from your daily work, habits, etc.
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