Overcoming your fear of flying can be one of the most difficult achivements of your life. However, it is very possible with appropriate treatment and significant patience. Once you manage to successfully identify the triggers that produce your anxiety, you've already taken the first step.

The fear of flying is mostly generated by movies and television footage that make of the flying experince a terrible nightmare and a horrible fear, fear of all the things that might go wrong. 

Most "flight phobics" agree that flying is safe, yet extremely frightening. Despite the fact that we know that our fears are illogical, we somehow don't manage to overcome them. So, without first hand experience, how can you effectively overcome your fear of flying?

Flying in the dark
Credit: Marios Ge

1. Choose your Trip Wisely

Nowadays, travellers are provided with an amazing ability to choose which airline, route or even type of aircraft they want. Airline and travel agent websites such as Kayak, Travelocity and Expedia allow you to sit down, relax and choose the exact flight conditions that you want in your flight.

It is recommend for people who are still trying to overcome their fear of flying to take the most direct route available (non-stop), and to choose the largest available airplane with the largest interior space (Airbus A330,A340,A380, or Boeing 747, 767, 777).

2. Pick the Right Seat

Always try to choose of front or exit row seat. Even if an extra payment is required, it is worth it. An aisle seat gives you the feeling of extra space and therefore is highly recommended.

3. Wake up Early

In case of long duration flights, it is recommended that you get the slightest possible amount of sleep before the flight. It hightens your chances of taking a nap, shortening your flight time.

4. Arrive at the airport Early and observe 

This act, performed for considerable amounts of time, allows your brain to better evaluate the situation. The smooth takeoffs of the planes you're watching will help you overcome your unrealistic imaginations of the flight you're about to take.

During the flight, try to put together this typical scene in your mind, like if you were watching it from the waiting area. This strategie is one of the most effective treatments and is highly recommended.

5. Expect Unfamiliar Sounds and be Realistic

During the flight, your ears will come across a number of unfamiliar sounds and noises. These noises are normal and expected: the typical airplane is made out of a complicated mixture of machines which are actively working together to perform the amazing act of flying. Therefore, relax and have no worries. You are not an aeronautic engineer, you cannot distingue if the plane is okay by the sounds it's making. So, unless "someone" tells you otherwise, the plane is perfectly okay.

6. Mute the engine noise

In case you didn't manage to convince yourself that these unfamiliar sounds do not alert about a life threatening problem, crank up your favourite tunes loaded on your phone or MP player, and close your eyes. Keep in mind that using electronics is not allowed during the takeoff and the landing of the airplane and that you will be informed about when it will be safe to use your phone and when it won't by the flight crew.

 7. Expect air bumps

Air-turbulence is fearful flyer's biggest nightmare. To overcome this issue, remember this simple fact, planes do not crash because of air bumps. Besides, when the seat belt light goes on, it doesn't mean that you are at risk of any type of flight dangers. It simply means the pilot doesn't want you to fall on the guy next to you.

In certain cases, most pilots will inform you that they will try to take a slight detour or change altitude to avoid bump for the comfort of their passengers, not to avoid a catastrophic disaster.

8. Pick calm routes

Sites like Turbulenceforecast.com will provide great information about expected turbulence. Use those to find out which routes historically have less bumps which are more suitable for "flight phobics".

9. Don't think about the takeoff

Repetitive thinking of the takeoff scenario can expose to a high amount of unrealistic worries and uncomfortable stress. To avoid a similar situation, try to think about anything, absoltely anything which is not related to the takeoff. For example, you can think about the places you're going to visit and the things you're planning to buy once you arrive.

Shot from plane window
Credit: RKP Chennai

10. Find ways to make the trip seem shorter

Causing yourself to worry will make every minute of your flight feel like an hour. Therefore, I recommed that you use your favourite time-killing product (portable video game, book, magazine, etc.) to help you calm down.

However, it is not recommended that you make use of this method while the plane is facing air bumps. It will only increase your stress and make you even more nervous. This technique is therefore meant only for smooth flight durations.

11. Fly often

Fear is not fearless. Once you stand against it in a significant number of occasions, it fades away. Therefore, whenever you have time and finance, go for it. Think of the beautiful places you will be able to visit while training yourself.

12. Master the system

Before the flight, use the internet to learn about everything that usually happens inside an airplane. Know what these small lights mean. Know what you are and what you are not aloud to during a flight. Study as much cases as you can so that when the time comes, your knowledge will come back to you with confidence and relief.

13. Don't feed your fear

Watching tv programs that highlight plane accidents is not a good decision to make. Such programs will feed anyone's fear of flying. Therefore, it is highly recommended not to watch any kind of production that may harm your progress toward overcoming your fear of flying.

Do You Know what You're Missing?

Flying is one of the most amazing feelings and sensational dreams a human will ever live. Flying goes along with happiness, freedom and relief. You just can't hate it.

When I took a plane for the first time of my life, when I was seventeen, I had a window seat. The view of the sky was so divine, so elegant.. that I couldn't resist it. Those few minutes were among the most amazing in my life.

I hope soon, when you overcome your fear, that you get a window seat, at the perfect sunset. You will then remember my words, I ensure you that.