Everyone has heard the old cliché about how safe airline travel is―you're more likely to die from car crash than from your plane crash. That may calm some people down, but for people who quiver, cry, and hyperventilate at even the thought of getting on an airplane, a cliché doesn't so much to calm their fears.
First, keep in mind that it really is true that the number of plane crashes each year compared to the number of automobile accidents is minuscule.
If you need technical reassurance, the Internet is your friend. With a few searches you can easily find everything you want to know about how a plane works, the principles behind how airplanes fly, the mechanics involved in operating an airplane, and all the safety measures and important designs that are involved to ensure that airplanes are extremely safe.
So when a flight attendant says to buckle up, you need to follow instructions. Think of turbulence like hitting a big pothole in the sky. The plane shakes and sways for a few minutes, but it won't drop out of the sky.
If you are afraid to fly, you should tell the flight attendant that when you board the plane. Flight attendants are trained in helping passengers to have a calm, enjoyable flight, so if the attendant knows you are fearful, he or she will probably go out of their way to be reassuring if the plane encounters turbulence.
Seeing that the attendants and other passengers are perfectly calm can help calm your fears as well. There's no need to be embarrassed or ashamed to admit your fears to the attendant; many people suffer from fear of flying, but not many will admit it to airplane personnel even though it will surely make for a calmer, less anxiety-ridden trip.
When you select your seat, be sure to keep in mind that if you sit by a window, you will be able to see what's happening outside and you can see how far above the ground the plane is. If you take an aisle seat, you can pretend that you're riding on a bus or in an automobile, and not 40,000 feet up in the air.
Be sure to bring plenty of materials to keep you busy and distracted during the flight. If you are traveling with someone, bring a deck of cards or a magnetic board game. If you are traveling alone, bring things to occupy your mind, such as magazines, a portable CD player, an iPod, or a laptop computer.
For a long flight, the simplest way to pass the time comfortably is to sleep. Creature comforts that might help in this department include an eye mask, a horseshoe pillow for your neck, or a soft blanket.
You can take some nighttime over-the-counter medicine to make you drowsy, or have your doctor prescribe a sleeping aid if you need something a bit stronger. There are also alternative therapies, such as self-hypnosis, that can help in calming your fears.
Flying in an airplane really is safer than riding in a car, and fear of flying can be a huge stumbling block to exploring and enjoying the world. Many people never completely conquer their fear of flying. But with a little forethought, research and planning, you can at least control it enough to reach your destination without the trip being a nightmare.