How to overcome your fear of flying

Travel smart

Statistically speaking, flying is as safe as it’s ever been. Unfortunately, numbers alone can be of little comfort when you’re truly anxious about boarding a plane. Here are a few suggestions that might help you conquer your fear, combining cold, hard facts with warm words of encouragement. You’ll be on your way to your next destination before you know it, leaving your fear of flying behind for good.

Cute little girl dressed like a pilot with toy wings is showing her muscles, smiling and looking at camera, against gray wall

Set yourself up for the best flight possible
You probably already know if you prefer the window or the aisle seat, but did you know that certain areas of the aircraft can offer smoother rides than others? Choose a seat that’s over the wing—a spot that typically provides the smoothest ride—and you won’t be stressing about all those little bumps.

Speaking of seats, there are a few breathing exercises you can do once you’re buckled in to relax yourself before takeoff. It’s a common meditation practice to imagine oxygen filling your body as you take a deep, slow breath—from your nose all the way down to your toes. Close your eyes as you do so to block out distractions. If you’re having trouble focusing, trying using a guided breathing tool like Breathe Sync to pace your breathing and slow your heart rate.

Learn the facts
Facts are important when it comes to aviation safety. Consider this—you have a 50 percent chance of being afflicted by cardiovascular disease, but only a 0.000014 percent chance of being in an airline incident. That means your chance of having an unsafe flight is statistically zero—you’re more likely to win the lottery! You’re even more likely to die of a bee sting.

Part of this is because modern aircrafts are designed to stay aloft in even the most severe turbulence, which is really nothing more than the rapid expansion that occurs when air of several different temperatures mixes. In the vast majority of cases, turbulence will not harm the plane. You can be sure of this because aircrafts undergo rigorous maintenance—both at milestones designated by their manufacturers as well as by pilots and ground crews—before every flight to ensure that they aren’t affected by turbulence or other environmental factors.

Pamper yourself
Having a drink can calm your nerves when you fly, but this is only the beginning of the self-care measures you can take to reduce your fear of the friendly skies. Consider purchasing an Even More Space or Mint seat for a more relaxing flight experience, or purchasing access to an airport lounge to replace all your negative energy with some well-deserved luxury while you wait to board.

Stay busy
More and more airlines offer inflight Wi-Fi  these days, so you can stay connected from takeoff to touchdown. Rather than Googling facts on turbulence or techniques for coping with flying fears, stay busy and engaged. Catch up on emails, work on a paper that’s due soon, or simply chat with your best friend on social media.

Rinse and repeat
At its root, fear of flying is a product of your own behavior and thoughts. The best way to overcome it is to reprogram yourself. Fly as often as possible, taking into account some of the emotional and mental tips mentioned above. With every uneventful flight, your fear will move as far away from you as the ground when your plane reaches cruising altitude.