Show #49: Fear of Flying - A Basic Overview
Title: Fear of Flying - A Basic Overview
Date: 23 May 2008; Length: 7:33
Fear of flying is a complex psychological issue, one that has been made more complex by the security concerns of the last few years. There are many books, videos, and other resources that deal with the fear of flying, so deciding what may work for you may be a difficult process. This podcast, and the resources at AirSafe.com, provides passengers with some insights into fear of flying and some suggestions as to what to do about it. You can listen to the podcast at the following link:
Fear of Flying Basics
Signs that you Have a Fear of Flying
The SOAR course of Captain Tom Bunn
Want to leave a voice mail or email? How about mailing a letter? Go to the AirSafe.com Contact Page and send us your message.
Welcome to the Conversation at AirSafe.com, with your host Dr. Todd Curtis.
This is show #49 - Fear of Flying
This show was first broadcast on May 23rd, 2008.
In this show, I'll provide a brief overview of what the fear of flying is, and what passengers can do to deal with it.
Fear of flying is a complex psychological issue, one that has been made more complex by the security concerns of the last few years. There are many books, videos, and other resources that deal with the fear of flying, so deciding what may work for you may be a difficult process. This podcast, and the resources at AirSafe.com, should provide you the passenger with some insights into fear of flying and some suggestions as to what you can do about it.
One of the basic questions you may want to ask is what exactly is fear of flying?
Fear of flying sometimes goes by a more technical name like aerophobia, aviatophobia, or aviophobia. Whatever you want to call it, fear of flying is an anxiety disorder. Such fears can come about in the airport, during a flight, or even weeks before the day that you fly. Often, the fear has more to do with elements of the flying experience and has little or nothing to do with the risks associated with the flight. Depending on the person, the fear of flying includes one or more of the following elements:
- Fear of heights
- Fear of being over water
- Fear of the dark or of being out at night
- Fear of the unknown
- Concerns about accidents
- Concerns about hijackings and other deliberate attacks on the aircraft
- Being in an enclosed or crowded space
- Being idle for long periods of time
- Loss of personal freedom
- The security screening process
- Concerns about turbulence and other weather conditions
- Not understanding the activities associated with a normal flight
- Loss of control, or
- Underlying issues from past psychological or physical trauma
Another common question is how many people are afraid of flying?
The airline industry is clearly aware of the fear of flying and how it affects the traveling public. Research is somewhat sparse, with one of the more important studies on the fear of flying dating back to 1980, when two Boeing researchers found that about 18% of the adults in the United States. were afraid to fly, and that almost 13% of U.S. adults experienced anxiety when they fly. In short, they found that about one in three adult Americans were afraid to fly.
The study was also interesting in that it provided details about why they avoided flying. About half reported that fear was the reason, but only about six percent considered flying unsafe. A more recent poll conducted by Newsweek Magazine in 1999 found that 50% of the adults surveyed who flew on commercial airlines were frightened at least some of the time.
How Does Fear of Flying Affect People?
How people react to this fear is as diverse as the reasons behind these anxieties. A common reaction is to avoid flying as much as possible. There are a number of celebrities, including John Madden of video game and American football fame, who go to great lengths to arrange their personal and professional lives to avoid flying. Other reactions include the kind of physical effects associated with a white-knuckle flyer, such as sweating, rapid heartbeat and breathing, and nausea. Other reactions can be more dangerous for the passenger and for others on the aircraft, such as using drugs or alcohol to deal with the experience, or coping with stress by being abusive to other passengers, the cabin crew, or to airline representatives.
Often, public relations specialists from the airlines or from other parts of the aviation community point to the statistics associated with flying risk to illustrate that flying is safe and that passengers should not be afraid. For most who have anxieties associated with flying, these statistics are meaningless because in most cases, the fear is not associated with flight risks. For those who are concerned about flight risk, statistics are also not that useful. Even if the chance of something bad happening is a million to one, the people concerned about risk are focused on whether their flight is going the be that one that doesn't end well.
The Fear of Flying Warning Signs page on AirSafe.com has a checklist of symptoms or behaviors commonly associated with the fear of flying. If you recognize several of these items as being true in your life, it may indicate that you suffer from the fear of flying.
Not all of these symptoms or behaviors look like they could be due to fears or anxieties around flying. However, the act of flying may make it difficult or impossible to avoid having to face these stressful situations. For example, if you have a fear of enclosed spaces and get dizzy when you are in an elevator, you can always get out at the next stop. In an airplane, that next stop may be hours away, and the amount of stress that builds up over that time can be tremendous. Whether you are a veteran passenger, or if you have never flown before, the following list may help you identify whether you have a fear of flying problem.
You May Have a Fear of Flying if:
- You don't like being in enclosed or crowded spaces.
- You don't like being around strangers.
- You would rather be in control of a situation, and you don't like to be dependent on technology or on other people to protect you.
- You like your personal freedom and don't like it when people tell you what to do, or what not to do.
- You have a fear of heights.
- You have a fear of being over water.
- Flying, or even the thought of flying, makes you tense, or leads to headaches, nausea, fatigue, or other physical discomfort.
- You have a fear of the dark or a fear of being out at night
- You don't like invasions of privacy, especially when it comes potential searches of your belongings or physical searches of your body.
- You are very concerned about the risks of death or injury from aircraft accidents or from hijackings or other deliberate attacks on the aircraft.
- You don't like being idle for long periods of time.
- You experience sudden or prolonged panic attacks when you fly or when you are about to get on an airplane.
- You arrange your life to limit the amount of flying that you do, or you avoid flying altogether.
- You become easily angered by others when you fly.
- The sounds and activities associated with a normal flight bother you.
- You are concerned about turbulence and other weather conditions.
- You are afraid of the unknown.
If you have one or more of these symptoms, it may be worth your while to do some personal research on the subject. Also, if you experience anxiety around flying, and that fear is affecting you in a way that you don't like, there's no reason to accept it as normal. If you want to take positive steps to deal with it, there are plenty of options available. If you have any questions or concerns about the fear of flying, you can visit fear.airsafe.org and review some the material there, especially the links to books, DVDs, and CDs, and fear of flying programs.
I know that for some of you, visiting AirSafe.com or even listening to this podcast may be a bit upsetting. If you have made it this far, you should make the next move and take steps to deal with your fear.
As a first step, please visit fear.airsafe.org for more information on the fear of flying. There you'll find options for dealing with that fear, including links to the SOAR course of Captain Tom Bunn.
Once again, that address is fear dot airsafe dot o-r-g.
Thanks for listening, and I'll see you next time.
http://www.airsafe.com/podcasts/show49.htm -- Revised: 23 May 2008