Statistics will vary from year to year and country to country, but it’s generally quoted that 1 in 3 people to have a fear of flying or feel some sort of anxiety leading up to and during a flight. For some, it might just be a bit of irritation for having to wait too long or missing connections, some might feel a pang of panic during the bumpy parts, and then for others it’s blinding fear! Many of those with a fear of flying will suffer in silence, not all of them scream and grip seats, so you’ll never really know how many people on your flight are having a hard time. Spare a thought for the truly terrified, this list will show you exactly what they’re going through on every single flight. “There are only two emotions on an aircraft: boredom and terror” – Orson Welles.
The panic doesn’t start when you get on the plane or even when arriving at the airport – it usually starts days and weeks before. It’s like seeing doom heading your way and every time you think about the upcoming flight, your stomach drops just a little bit more. And forget about sleeping the night before the flight, that’s just not going to happen! The pangs in your stomach and the heart palpitations will keep you up and, in the rare instances where you might fall asleep, the dreams about crashing planes won’t keep you asleep for long!
The words “we have now reached our cruising altitide of 41,000 feet” calmly coming from the cockpit will only strike fear in your heart. Do we really need to be this high?! It’s not so much a fear of heights, but rather falling from that great height! Surely this thing can just fly at 5,000 feet. Or better yet, how about just barrell this baby down the highway and not take off at all! So enjoying the view is not generally part of a fearful flyer’s travelling plans, they’d rather avoid the window altogether.
Most fearful flyers will, believe or not, prefer long haul flights to short ones because there is a better chance of a decent size plane where the bumps won’t be as noticeable (but they still WILL be noticeable). No light aircraft flights for fearful flyers, you’ll be lucky to get them on anything that has propellers or less than 100 seats. When booking, they’ll always be very vigilant about what type of aircraft the flight will be on, and will probably even go at an earlier or later time to avoid the puddle-jumper aircraft.