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Fear of Flying

Since the advent of commercial airline travel, there have been nervous passengers. Today it is estimated that one in five passengers on an aircraft will be suffering from a fear of flying to one degree or another. So if you're reading this and you're a nervous, or downright petrified, flyer, then you're certainly not alone.

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Some people, even frequent flyers, develop a fear of flying gradually, yet others succumb to those fears before ever setting foot on an aeroplane for the first time. Many people will do what ever it takes to avoid taking a flight – they’ll postpone trips indefinitely, take trains, cars and even boats to their destination. For some people with a fear of flying the days, weeks and even months leading up to a flight on an aircraft can be nearly as traumatic as being in the aircraft itself.

A fear of flying can manifest itself in many different ways, ranging from those who are absolutely terrified at the prospect of even entering an aircraft and suffer panic attacks just thinking about it, to those who experience mild nervousness during, for example, take-offs, landings, or turbulence. Anxiety of any degree due to a fear of flying is not to be dismissed lightly, as each carries its own personal and social weight for the passenger.

The majority of people who have a fear of flying usually develop their phobia from an actual experience of flying. Most frequent flyers will be able to regale you with a story of a particularly turbulent or stressful flight. The problem is that many of these people only dwell on the fact that the turbulence was bad, and not that the plane withstood the turbulence and made it to the destination unscathed. In other words, it’s the tendency of people to dwell on the negative aspects of a flight rather than the positives that feed the fear of flying phobia in the first place. Of course, for those who may have actually experienced a flight where there was a mechanical failure, or other improbable situation, then the issues are somewhat more complicated.

The most severe case of ‘fear of flying’ is the person who just cannot bring themselves to board an aircraft at all. The mere thought of being in an aircraft causes panic attacks, trembling, nausea and hyperventilation. Such people are even likely to be afraid of even stepping foot in an aircraft at all, let alone taking a flight in one. For these people the issues are far greater than just a fear of flying. They normally have to contend with other issues such as claustrophobia and lack of control and these can be difficult hurdles to overcome in their own right.

If you suffer from any degree of a fear of flying the only good news is that you’re not alone. According to studies, there are a surprisingly large number of people who suffer some form of distress about being in an aircraft - in fact nearly 20% of passengers are said to have a fear of flying in one form or another.

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