Are there tips and tricks for people with fear of flying that can makes them have a more pleasant experience when flying? I know drugs can do magic, and we've previously had debate on pills vs alcohol. I'm ideally after official advice and recommendations, but other tips and tricks would be nice as well.

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    Related: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/9885/… Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 21:39
  • Is this not a duplicate of the link Nate posted? Answers there certainly apply here...it's close, but I'm not sure?
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 23:05
  • @MarkMayo it is not! that one is explicitly asking about alcohol.. it is related and no more Commented Dec 24, 2013 at 23:06
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    But many of the answers to 9885 address fear of flying in general, and methods of coping that are neither pills nor alcohol. Commented Dec 25, 2013 at 5:07

7 Answers 7


Some airlines do seminars for exactly that (for example Lufthansa). They explain to you beforehand what sounds you are going to hear, what motions you feel, where they come from and what they mean. Then, they take you on a short flight so you can experience it all with someone giving you live commentary on what is happening.

The advantage of those courses is that you feel less like locked into an aluminum can without any idea what is happening but rather experience a flight as an informed person.

There are also many other coaches and courses to combat fear of flying.

However, in the end, fear of flying - depending on the level - is a phobia just like any other. It is safer to travel by air than by car for example. The vast majority of spiders are completely harmless, too. From the subject matter, it does not really matter so much if you have arachno-phobia or fear of flying, the psychological process of getting rid of that fear is just the same, but always depending on what works best for your brain. There are many different ways to detect and to treat phobias, and once you determine if you just feel uncomfortable in turbulence or if you get a panic attack already when you step into the airplane, you can treat the issue accordingly.


After more than a decade in the cabin crew business, I think it's time now to share a tip or two I know:

  • Keep your mind busy. Read a book, play a game on your smart phone, watch a movie, etc.
  • Take an aisle seat. It will help you feel a bit in control when your anxiety peaks. A little walk around the cabin can relieve it.
  • This is one of the cases where Xanax usage is legitimate, ask your doctor to prescribe some for you and use it shortly before the flight.
  • The first hour or so of the flight will be the hardest, fear will be less after that and it might start peaking again before landing.
  • Get enough sleep before the flight. Do not force yourself to be awake for long time before the flight planning to sleep the whole flight. If you have fear you know that you can't sleep, lack of sleep makes fear levels higher. Sleep well before the flight to have a better mood during the flight.
  • No harm in telling a cabin crew member that you are worried about flying. If you ever felt scared during the flight, look at their smiling faces, this will help you realize that things are ok.
  • Always remind yourself that flying is the safest transportation method.

Visit your local airfield and take a flying lesson or two. You'll better understand what's going on (Aha! He's adding flaps so the plane can fly slower!), and from then on the commercial flights might be much less scary by comparison. And who knows, you might like flying.

Many flight schools offer free or low-cost introductory lessons.

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    I once took a simulator lesson and was sweating shite. This rudder that rudder... thud. crash. If at all I had fear of flying, that lesson would have made sure I never board another flight nay even question the pilots abilities and demand to look at his track record. Commented Dec 25, 2013 at 14:35
  • I'm not sure I would recommend this - every part of flight is amplified on a trainer aircraft (vibrations, turbulence, noise, etc.) so a person already anxious may feel even more so stuck in a typical trainer aircraft like a Cessna 172. Commented Dec 21, 2015 at 5:02

There are non-drug techniques for overcoming anxiety that a competent psychologist can teach you to do on your own as needed. There are a range of options that have been shown to be effective. Two examples are hypnosis and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), but there are others as well. A psychologist can help determine if these techniques can help you, and if so, which may be optimal in your case.

  • Glad to see EMT mentioned. I was trying to think of the name while responding to another question about this. Part of EMT is bilateral motion, such as just walking. Commented Apr 10 at 19:04

Distraction gives short-term relief while feeling fear during a flight. I draw and paint flower postcards when we hit turbulence. Big muscle activity helps to distract, but I must stay seated during turbulence, so at least my arms are in motion as I paint. Then I give the postcards to friends and others who read my books about Constructive Living as proof that one can be scared to death and produce something constructively.


Have you tried this website?:


1 - Face the facts. Don't forget that the statistics are on your side. One study found that it's 261 times safer to take a plane from New York to Los Angeles than to drive the same distance. However, if this rational approach isn't doing much to address your irrational fear, then...


I remember reading a great answer by a pilot on a Delta non-rev forum addressing fear of flying. Can't find the link now, but basically it said that you need to think about the pilots as people, with families, life goals, etc, just like you.

They have had lots of training and experience, and like you, they have places to be back on land, and they will make 110% sure to give their best in order to get home safely back to their families.

Also, he mentioned about the extensive rules, maintenance schedules, and protocols that industry follows in order to keep everything running as smoothly as possible. Not to mention all the amazing new technology that has made commercial flying super-safe. Safer than driving, in fact.

  • That reasoning probably worked better before Germanwings ... Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 14:33
  • @HenningMakholm There's always gonna be that 0.1% chance that you get a suicidal maniac pilot... but for the rest of the time it's a pretty good thing to keep in mind. Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 23:41
  • @unknownprotocol That's probably far less than 0.1% chance. Say something like Germanwings 9525 happens once a year worldwide -- that's probably an exaggeration. How many hundreds of thousands of commercial flights are there per year? Even if just 100,000, which is probably a low estimate, that's 1 out of 100,000, or 0.001% probability that it happens on your particular flight. You can probably add another zero to both numbers and still be well within reasonable numbers, which pushes this to a 0.00001% probability.
    – user
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 16:08

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