How to cope with a fear of flying
For many, air travel is an enjoyable experience: it’s an opportunity to catch up on sleep or some new cinema releases. For others, however, the mere thought of flying results in sweaty palms and a sense of dread. We caught up with Paul Tizzard, fear of flying coach and co-founder of Lovefly – which is working with Virgin Atlantic to help nervous flyers, to get some tips to help nervous flyers cope with travelling by plane…
Learning how the plane works can really help some people. Knowing exactly what’s happening as the plane takes off, reaches altitude, and then lands at your destination could help put your mind at ease. To reassure yourself of commercial aviation safety, check out the ‘Flight Radar’ app and you will see just how many thousands of flights take off and land safely every day.
To help you with this, listen to the Lovefly podcast to help you prepare for future flights – you can find them on most podcast platforms.
Before your flight, you might benefit from learning some relaxation techniques that you can employ once you get on the plane. Consider downloading an app such as Headspace, which will guide you through meditations to help you keep your calm.
On the day of your flight, try to reduce any other stress you might encounter. You don’t want to develop anxieties about being late to the airport or getting stuck in a queue at security.
Leave with plenty of time to get to the airport, account for traffic and any other potential issues you could face en route. As much as possible, stay positive and focus on what you will be doing once you arrive at your destination, rather than on the flight itself.
On the flight
Once you get on the plane, it can be a good idea to let the cabin crew know that you’re a nervous flyer as they can help to reassure you. Virgin Australia customers who identify themselves as nervous flyers at the booking stage receive a distinctive logo on their boarding pass so that cabin crew know to keep an eye out for them.
If you’re travelling with someone else, talk to them – try to focus on the conversation, rather than how you’re feeling. If you’re flying solo, then read a book, listen to some music or watch something on the inflight entertainment – anything that will help to take your mind off any anxiety you’re experiencing.
Now is the time to put those relaxation techniques into practice too. Virgin Australia offers meditation guides through app-based mindfulness platform, Smiling Mind, and Virgin Atlantic has a partnership with Headspace, so you can access mindfulness training through the inflight entertainment plus you can download the Lovefly podcasts to take with you.
Maybe it’s not you that has a fear of flying but someone you’ll be travelling with. Here are a few ways you can help them:
Take the fear seriously. Above all, don’t dismiss it.
Pay attention to the other person. Don’t abandon them, even if they seem to be putting up a barrier. Try to prevent them from withdrawing into themselves.
If you become scared, admit it. This will help them see fear is not so unusual.
Talk about something that interests the other person. For example, what you’re going to do when you arrive.
Help them feel better about flying by giving them compliments once they have flown. This will help them have more courage for the next time.
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Lovefly to offer a range of help options for the nervous flyer. Visit the Lovefly website to find free help, as well as a selection of courses.
Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more.