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Advice to those of you who feel nervous before a flight

Fifteen good tips for those of you who feel nervous or scared before a flight.

In advance

1. Try to remember when your fear of flying started. Have you experienced something that has initiated this fear? Do you feel locked in, or out of control? Nobody is born with a fear of flying, and if you can find out how it started it is easier to deal with the fear. It may also be that when your fear of flying started, there were other stress factors which played a role, which you now unconsciously associate with flying.

2. Find out as much as possible about flying and about what happens during a flight to avoid thinking that something is wrong if, for example, the starter motors turn off. Look for specific information about what you are most scared of.

3. Try to accept that flying is safe. A fact that facilitates dealing with your fear of flying is that flying is actually the safest mode of transport.

4. Visit an airport and get used to the environment, look at aircrafts as they take off and land. Enjoy a cup of coffee without feeling the stress of having to fly. 

5. Contact the airline you are travelling with. Explain that you are scared of flying. If you feel safer in a specific part of the airline - for example at the very front - ask to sit there for both your outward and inward flight.

The day before

6. Go to bed early the evening before. You will feel better if you are rested. Avoid alcohol.

Same day, before flying

7. Eat well before a flight. It is easy to miss breakfast if you are feeling anxious, but if you haven't eaten it is very likely that you will feel ill.

8. Wear loose and comfortably fitting clothing so that you are comfortable during the flight.

9. Arrive at the airport in good time.

During the flight

10. Present yourself when you board the aircraft and explain that you think flying is an unpleasant experience. The cabin crew are used to helping people with a fear of flying. They can help you, explain things to you, and keep an eye on you which increases your confidence on board.

11. Drink a lot of water during the flight. Avoid alcohol. If you try to numb your fear with alcohol, the feeling of not having control over your own body may intensify. In addition, it means that you never deal with your fear but instead keep on to it and perhaps even intensify it before your next flight.

12. Remember that you are not the only one with a fear of flying. Do not hide that you are afraid. Do not hesitate to ask the cabin crew if anything is making you nervous during the flight.

13. Breathly calmly, and try to relax. Avoid clinging desperately to the arm rest. If you are really afraid of flying, there are other relaxation exercises you can do before travelling, where you go through the flight step by step.

14. Move around during the flight. Get up and stretch, or walk a few steps when you do not need to wear your seat belt.


15. Participate in a fear of flying course or contact a psychotherapist who treats flying phobias.