Ever since my early teens, I’ve had a strong fear of flying. It could have been caused by the very bad storm we flew through when I was 14 or perhaps it was that impending realisation that we’re being thrown from one place to another in a giant, metal box full of farts. Regardless, it has been there as long as I remember and it seems to be getting worse over the years.
As someone who has family living in both Australia and Europe and a husband who loves to travel, taking an airplane on a regular basis is just part of life, and despite the constant urge to research valid train connections, I need to take that spoon of cement and toughen right up!
I have been given the statistics by many people (even experienced flight staff) and am very well aware that I am more likely to be killed by a cow (random) than when flying.. .but the forte about my fear is… there is absolutely no logic behind it. The flying itself is not what really scares me, but more the whole falling and plunging to your whole death part..
Some of the basic (illogical) rules I live by when flying:
Rule # 1: Concentrate
Takeoff is the worst part and I need to concentrate deeply, as I am convinced that my intense focus is what is keeping the plane up in the air. I will relax a bit more when the seat belt sign is turned off, but not a second before that. Same rule applies when we experience turbulence.
Recently, I tend to also cry silently when taking off (a new development there, I’m yet to figure out where that one came from)
Rule # 2: “You’ll be fine”
The phrase “you’ll be fine” is somewhat of a mantra I chant pretty much during the entire flight, and the more people who say that to me before take-off, the more secure I feel about the flight. I may have bothered a few fellow passengers along the way when they saw me clutching my lucky necklace and mumbling ‘you’ll be fine; you’ll be fine; you’ll be fine” like a lunatic in a trance.
Rule # 3: Read the chart, fool!
When traveling with me, you absolutely must read the safety chart (even a quick glance will suffice). If you don’t do so (even when teasing), I will freak the f*k out until you do. Much to the delight of my husband I can tell you.. .he has memorized that thing by now PS: I will also squeeze your hand to within an inch of its life during takeoff and heavy turbulence.
Rule # 4: Baby on Board
I wouldn’t call myself a super religious person, but the more infants on the flight, the better (cause surely, what kind of Higher Being would harm all these babies, right?)
Rule # 5: Be careful with alcohol and pill mixers
Before flying with my daughter, I used to self medicate with wine and a sleeping pill. Of course, one must be very careful not to mix these guys up. A lesson I learned when I was 19 and had myself a little wine/Valium cocktail… We experienced a ‘touch and go’ in London and after 5 minutes in the air again the Captain assured us we’d just circle around a bit and land shortly…. to which a very intoxicated me slurred (loud enough) “That’s what they said in ‘Die Hard’ and they crashed” (much to the amusement of fellow passengers, I apologized to the friendly flight steward and explained I was a nervous flyer, to which he said ‘I can see that darling’.. *how embarrassed*
Rule # 6: Flight Information
I appreciate the Captain wants to say hello and introduce himself, but is it absolutely vital he reminds us mid-flight exactly how high up we are and how fast we are going? Because all I hear is “Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. We are now traveling at kilometers so high that you will not survive should the doors fall off, and at a speed so fast where surely an emergency landing would not slow us down enough. Thanks for flying with us and I will touch base again soon, granted we’re still in the air”
Rule # 7: Wing please
If I can sit on the left hand side of the plane, on the wing or in front of it, I will be a much more pleasant passenger. I solidly believe that turbulence is felt stronger at the back of the plane. A little rule that was developed when I experienced heavy turbulence in a toilet once, where I had to hold on to the basin.. I was terrified… luckily I was already seated on a toilet because .. well… you know.
There’s a chance there are more illogical logics to my fear of flying, but I’m pretty sure I’ve already promoted myself as a complete crazy person enough today. So to my fellow ‘aerophobics’ ; “You’ll be fine” and to the ones sitting next to them holding their hand: “Please be kind .. we will be a much more pleasant person again as soon as this giant death tube is back on the ground”.