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Travel has become a consistent part of life for many people, with more than 4 billion seats purchased for flights in 2019 alone. But some people still believe flying is scary because of fear of accidents, confusion over getting through the airport, or anxiety about flying while injured or post-operative.

The feeling that flying is scary is common. However, these fears are rooted in misconceptions or a lack of facts. Learning more about flying can lessen that “scared to fly” feeling. Here are several of the common reasons to feel that flying is scary and ways to deal with them.

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Fear of Accidents

This is one of the most common fears, but it’s one that’s easier to keep in check when you know the facts. Around the world, the safety of aircraft keeps improving. The International Air Transport Association reported that in 2019, the airline industry saw its safety record improve yet again. There were 46.8 million flights and only 250 accidents. In the United States, there hasn’t been a fatal commercial airline crash since 2009. The odds of being in a plane accident are about 1 in 11 million (compared to about 1 in 5,000 for a car accident).

However, many people still deal with anxiety and think flying is too scary to try.  Some tips that can help lessen that anxiety include the following.

  • Look at pictures of airplane interiors to get you used to the environment
  • Choose the best seat on a plane that will keep you close to the bathroom if you need it. An aisle seat is also better for those who don’t want to see how high off the ground they are
  • Bring something fun and relaxing to read or watch during the flight
  • Stay away from anything that induces anxiety, such as the news
  • Avoid caffeine, as it can heighten your sense of anxiety
  • Try people watching, both in the airport and on the plane. It can take your mind off your own anxieties
  • If you have a travel companion, take the opportunity to have a long conversation with  them

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Fear of Flying When Injured or Ill

Those who are recovering from an injury, recently experienced a health emergency or want to fly after surgery often fear getting on a plane. However, it is possible to fly in all these situations, especially if you have the right support.

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This is a common situation and one that a flight nurse can help you handle. Flight nurses can:

  • Fly with you on your flight, ensuring you get proper medical treatment if needed
  • Carry and administer any medication you need
  • Guide you through the terminal, security and gate procedures
  • Ensure any equipment you have is properly stored, such as a wheelchair
  • The non-emergency medical transport companies they work for can even handle all your travel arrangements.

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Fear of Navigating the Airport

Some people feel intimidated by the experience itself. Airports are huge, busy and confusing. That can give rise to feelings of anxiety, in some cases escalating to fear. Some tips to keep in mind for these issues are as follows.

  • Research and pick your parking location ahead of time. Go on your departure airport’s website and pick a place to park that will be the most convenient for you
  • Arrive early. It’s OK to arrive hours ahead of time, giving yourself plenty of time
  • Ticketing is your first stop, and you can now printout boarding passes at a self-serve kiosk. You can also use a pass on your phone if you have that function. Both save time in line
  • At security, wear shoes that are easy to slip off and slip on. Remember you will have to take off your belt and empty everything from your pockets, so don’t carry a lot.
  • Once you reach the gate area – and if you have time – find a relaxing airport lounge to wait for when boarding starts on your flight (typically about 30 minutes before departure)
  • Remember you are in control of how you react to this experience, it doesn’t control you
  • If you are elderly, post-operative, or dealing with a condition that impairs movement, this is another area where having a flight nurse with you is of great help

Flying is scary to some people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. By keeping these tips in mind and focusing on positive thinking, it’s not as difficult as you might think. You might even find that eventually you start to enjoy the experience!

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