This post is mainly supposed to be therapeutic, and may thus not be properly organized. I am flying to New Zealand tomorrow (23 hours) and this is me trying to cope with my fear. Let me know in the comments below if you too are afraid of flying, and what helps you.
I have been afraid of flying since I can remember. When booking my trip, I am usually looking forward to it, but about three days before I have to leave, I start to get nervous. I can’t sleep properly; all I can think about is the flight.
I stay up late to look up my airline, the type of plane, the airports, and – of course – how safe flying actually is. Googling that stuff is never a good idea. Most of the articles tell me how safe airplanes and airports are, how safe the technology is, how trained the pilots and crew are, and that there are millions of planes landing safely every single day. But then, there is always that one article that features a video of some airplane crash, or pictures of a destroyed plane that went up in flames – and obviously, all I can think about is that one negative article.
I think that I do trust the technology, and most of the time I also trust the pilot and the crew. But what I am most afraid of is that the plane that I am in will be attacked by terrorists.
Even before boarding, I scan every single person (mostly men who are traveling on their own and aren’t wearing a suit), and try to detect a hint of terrorism. I know that this is absolutely ridiculous, but I just can’t help myself.
In August, I flew to Bangkok from Germany – and there was this man who went to the bathroom at least three times within 30 minutes. I almost stared at him and followed his every move, because I was absolutely convinced that he was going to detonate a bomb in the bathroom. Obviously, we landed safely in Thailand – without the plane exploding. The guy was maybe just as nervous as I was, and that’s why he had to use the bathroom a lot.
My problem is my mind. As soon as I enter the plane I think of all the ways this could go wrong – we could crash when starting, the plane could break in half, there could be a terror attack, we could be shot from the sky, and so on. And then, I convince myself that exactly that is going to happen and that I am going to die. I don’t just convince myself that I am going to die, but I know it. I start sweating real bad, I can’t breathe properly anymore, and my whole body fights against me being up in the air. There is almost a “run-away impulse”, but that already starts the moment I enter the plane.
My cousin started working as a flight-attendant and to be honest, that really started to make me feel a little better. I know how much she flies, and nothing ever happened. But I also know that the airline she is flying with is a German airline – and if I have to fly with a different one, my fear starts all over.
The airline I will fly with is Emirates – one of the safest airlines in the world. They have never had any fatalities – and a normal person should feel better when reading this. But what I thought when I read that, is: “well, there has to be a first time”. And naturally, I am convinced that my plane is the one that will be the first to crash.
“Well, then why do you still fly?” – a question I had to answer more than once. And the answer is easy: “Because you can’t avoid it”. Truth be told, you can avoid it. You can either just never step on a plane and always travel by car, or you can travel by ship – which of course needs a lot more planning, more time, and is also more expensive. I know that the possibility of something happening to my plane is so, so tiny, but honestly, that doesn’t help me. At all.
Once I am in the plane, and we managed to take off, I can relax a little. I know that there is still the “danger of terrorism”, but I also know that most likely, nothing will happen. But, believe it or not, I also think that if there would a bomb on the plane, every damn second could be my last. And believe me, that is scary as hell.
Usually, it helps me to focus on the entertainment program – just watch movies for 14 hours straight. I don’t know how flying for that long on my own will be like, but I told myself that if my fear gets extremely bad, I will talk to a flight-attendant and tell them about my worries.
But just focusing on a crew member can help, too – they are flying some place every single day, and are now probably looking forward to their few days of layover in a new country.
Days before leaving for my trip and all I can think about is the flight, I think about canceling my vacation every single time. I know how much money I spent on it, and how much I was looking forward to it a few weeks back, but in these moments, I would sleep on the streets for days if I just wouldn’t have to get on the plane – I know this sounds absolutely insane, but I mean it.
If you’re not afraid of flying, I probably sound crazy to you. But maybe, there are a few of you out there who know exactly how I feel. Please let me know in the comments how you cope with your aviophobia, or why you’re not afraid – I can use all the tips.