Aviophobia: How to get over the fear of flying
Did you know that, according to the International Civil Aviation Organization, 40 percent of adults around the world suffer from aviophobia, the fear of flying? If you get anxious at the mere thought of stepping on an airplane, you’ll know just how debilitating it can be.
The disorder can stop you from vacationing with family and even harm your career if your job involves regular travel. Fortunately, there are ways to conquer your fears, from harnessing the power of technology or homeopathy to traveling by private aircraft.
What is aviophobia?
According to the Aviation Safety Network, 2016 proved to be the second safest year on record for air travel, with over 3.5 billion passengers taking to the air. When compared to road traffic accidents, it’s easy to see that flying is by far the safest form of travel. So why do so many people have a fear of flying?
“Fearful fliers generally recognize that their fears are exaggerated,” explains David Carbonell Ph.D, an American psychologist who specializes in fears and phobias. “Those who fear crashing know the statistics which show how safe flying is…But they try so hard to clear their minds of any doubt and their bodies of any anxiety that they become more afraid rather than less.”
Aviophobia isn’t just about the fear of crashing either, it can stem from claustrophobia, a fear of heights, or terror over losing control. Carbonell says: “While a third of fearful fliers fear crashing, the majority fear confinement on an airplane. They fear losing control of themselves as a result of fear. They envision becoming disruptive as they frantically try to ‘escape’, or literally ‘die of fright’”. So what’s the best way to tackle a fear of flying?
Alex Gervash, an FAA and EASA licensed commercial pilot with a degree in psychology, has created a revolutionary app called SkyGuru to help people who suffer from aviophobia. He realized that the best way to calm nervous flyers was to have an expert with them throughout the flight providing real-time explanations about weather conditions and turbulence, which is exactly what SkyGuru does. Here’s how it works:
- Passengers enter their flight number, date, and departure time into the SkyGuru app before they fly. The app gathers information from the last seven flights on that route and meteorological data to provide real-time information about the user’s specific flight.
- SkyGuru provides comfort and psychological support throughout the flight and monitors real-time weather conditions so it can predict when there will be turbulence. The app provides explanations to calm passengers, especially during times when the flight crew is unavailable during take-off, landing, and periods of turbulence.
In short, SkyGuru is the next best thing to having a pilot and personal therapist sat next to you when you fly. SkyGuru is available from the app store for $19.99.
Alternative therapies: Anxiety Coaching
Seeking help from a professional anxiety coach will allow you to manage your fear of flying. David Carbonell, Ph.D. is the coach at the popular self help web site, www.anxietycoach.com, and the author of Panic Attacks Workbook and The Worry Trick. His treatment involves helping sufferers accept their fears and practise coping with them, using breathing techniques, desensitization, and journaling on-board a flight. “My groups take a flight together, not to try to be calm, but to get afraid and see that they can handle it,” Carbonell explains. “It’s okay for a passenger to feel afraid, and it’s easier to fly when they come to accept that. The fears will diminish, but after they have some experience with flying, not before.”
Homeopathy is a form of complementary or alternative medicine that uses natural ingredients diluted in water. To treat a fear of flying with homeopathy, it’s best to consult a professional for advice, but organizations like the British Homeopathic Association and Homeopathy Healing suggest using the following remedies before and during your flight:
- Gelsemium – if you suffer from trembling anxiety and muscle weakness when you fly.
- Argentum-Nitricum – to treat restlessness and anxiety stemming mainly from fear of heights and claustrophobia.
- Aconite – for people who experience terror and panic, believing their plane will crash.
- Arsenicum – if you feel restless and need constant reassurance that your plane won’t crash.
- Borax – to treat a fear of downward motion, such as when landing.
Chartering a private jet
Opting to fly by private jet charter, to your destination of choice, could alleviate some of the symptoms of aviophobia by offering a more flexible and comfortable experience. When you charter a private jet, the check-in and boarding process is quicker and easier, which helps eliminate the nervous flight build-up. Traveling in a private craft without crowds of strangers can also reduce claustrophobia and the fear of losing control and panicking in front of others. Personal air crew can explain flight conditions, help you work through your worries, and create a more tranquil environment.