so ive struggled with flying for years but was making progress through this forum and reading the books. last year i thought i was cured & booked a trip involving 4 flights. by the last flight from nice to edinburgh i was back to nirmal freaking out unable to think rationally. all because i think i hated the take off when the plane turns quickly over the water. 

anyway since then i have been dreading flying adn not wanting to visit this site as i am now convinced flying is really dangerous & as ive no control over whether i live or  die im not doing it that way i am in contro unless i really have to. i thought i sont want to be cured i am actually being reasonable it is risky! i cant escape flying as i have to sometimes do it but i am now back to that bad place. i flew to barcelona on ryan air recently & convinced myself they cut safety corners as they are such a budget airline got in such a state in the flight i started getting dizzy, sweating and breathing fast. i tried to walk to the toilets and ended up almost falling to my feet & being sick. the flight back was more of the same scenario.

now i am due to fly to krabi in thailand in nov which involes 6 all round flights!! how on earth am i going to do it? i cant cope being locked on that plane unable to get off, i am so frightened of experiencing turbulence, i dont trust my life in the hands of the pilot. we are flying qatar, then still to chose between thai airways and air asia from bangkok to krabi but which one is more safer, am i at more risk of dying with these airlines? i dont know how i can do it i cant even seem to distract myself out of that histeria when it starts on the plane.  i need to be able to cope again & feel like i am not going to die........

any help is appreciated

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I'm so sorry that I have forgotten about  your questions  I will attend to them this evening


OK I couldn't wait ...

1. When I step on the plane there is no going back those doors are shut an despite how I feel whether it's anxious or frightened I can't get off even if I decide I've had enough I am stuck there

You're no more stuck there than you are on an express train to Glasgow New York or Sydney. It's just that you have the mistaken impression that you could get off everything except a plane. If you become a medical emergency then the plane will divert. You must find strategies to avoid thinking that you want to get off. There's no reason, that would benefit you other than momentarily, to get off. It's a feeling not a need.

2. Take off, the flight from Madrid that took off and crashed sticks in my mind, the pilot is in control, what if he makes a mistake or a bird is in the engine, it does not seem natural to lift into the sky like that, I wait during take off to hear something go wrong.

Well it is perfectly natural...thousands and thousands of flights every moment of the day...more normal than scuba diving...right now there are over  half a million people on planes. How many scuba diving or bungee jumping or driving a racing car? Flying is normal it's just that you're not  familiar with it ...I think it's normal. Forget the crash in's over and done with . THERE HASN'T BEEN ANOTHER HAS THERE? A bird down the engine won't affect the plane taking off.

Waiting for something to go wrong just winds you up...has it achieved anything yet? Do you believe that worrying has saved you from disaster so far.  The problem is that you haven't tested the not worrying angle. This is a common thought that doing something brings about something quite's superstition...and pilots are not superstitious...or would you prefer them to be?

Make a decision right now. With one wish you can make pilots do their checks test all the equipment or go thru a rirual before they take off...which do you choose. So if it's good enough for the pilot then I'm afraid it's got to be the same for you. It may feel awful ..but feelings aren't facts in flying.

3. Turbulence, again the air France flight causes trouble here, is turbulence really safe? How did that flight crash? When turbulence starts I become so frightened i am sure we are about to hit something unexpected that the pilots won't know about like flying to fast into it. Surely all that bumping up and down can't be safe?

of course it's safe... fear has nothing to do with safety...I'd be frightened in a submarine but it doesn't mean they're unsafe. How on earth can you be sure that  you're going to fly into something when you don't have weather radar like the pilots have? Of course all that bumping up and down is safe....why would we do it if it were dangerous....I'd have been a pop star instead of a pilot if that were unsafe.

4. Chances of survival - if anything does happen then I wont know as I'm sat way at the back and don't know what's happening, (control thing again). If anything does happen during take off and turbulence the chances of survival are minimal and my life will be over.

Chances of surviving what? Your life will be over one day anyway. You have more chance of dying from hundreds or thousands of things more probable than flying. Don't drive your car if you want to really improve your life chances...and don't go into hospital, or ride a horse or ...or..or

5. I actually think flying is risky an the longer I am on the flight the more I am increasing my risks


incorrect assumption...the longer you're on a flight the less chance you have of being involved in all those other things. Do you pay extra insurance for flying...I didn't as a pilot...thgat must say something because insurance firms aren't known to be charitable.

Hope all this helps...I know it'll hurt too  but in the long run facts are facts.


Hi Keith

Thanks for getting back to me.  Ive been having a think the last week over some of the things you have said, trying to put it into perspective and get some way of dealing with the flights ahead.

I guess my needing to feel I can get off is about my control and feeling as if I am in control will make me feel better.  Which it wont as I am not skilled like the pilots.  I think I am fearful of dying, I think I have established this as the main route of my problem.  So yes I am winding myself up and worrying does not achieve anything, I have not tried the not worrying appraoch.  But how do you not worry?

So in order to try the positive approach I have been trying to devise a plan of action.  So far I have got half way through a CBT book illustrating how thoughts lead to feelings and so on.  I am planning on making regularl use of the videos and forum before I go.  I think I have drummed into my head the approach if turbulence hits I wont sit and worry what if we hit a massive bump and crash, I will repeat this is perfectly normally no matter how bumpy it gets.  I hope this works in reality though!

Do you have any other coping strategies you could advise me of, or point me in the direction of?

I am feeling slightly more confident about the qatar flights and for some reason the edinburgh flight to heathrow with BA isnt bothering me atall.  My partner takes this flight weekly and its as if I trust that flight more.  But the bangkok to krabi thai flight is still causing a concern more specifically about my trust in the safety of thai airways, checks they make and regulations they follow.

And I actually prefer the straight to the point facts you provide, it really simplifies my concerns.


Hi Laura,

I have been reading your descriptions of the fear and horrible anxiety you have been feeling about your trip in Nov, and wanted to reply to you as well. I really sympathise and my heart goes out to you - I have felt many of the same fears and worries over flying, and especially over the last month before a trip I took last week. I know how horrible the anxiety feels and you wonder if you can ever come back from it.

You really can though. I felt the same and I did. It really helped me to start dealing with the facts, exactly as Captain Keith describes, and challenge every fearful and catastrophic thought with something based on fact instead. Knowledge about what is going on around you in the aircraft and about flying in general is powerful and it helped me to get informed about the points that bothered me the most, like turbulence, noises, etc, instead of letting my imagination take over.

Zsuzsanna's points about separating your feelings inside you from what the plane is actually doing really rang true for me too. It's such a helpful perspective and takes away some of the power and control the feelings of fear seem to have over you. It helps me to remember as well that the fear is limited. And it is just a feeling. So no matter how unpleasant the feelings feel, they can't actually harm you and they will subside. They will - it's a physiological fact. 

For me, I find that the better prepared I am to deal with my feelings on the flight and beforehand, the better I can settle my worries and anxiety if and when they arise.

I plan a list of strategies, and have back-ups. A bit like the plane itself - it has back-up systems and back-ups of back-ups! So I have my thinking strategies - challenging my fearful thoughts with facts. Constantly reminding myself what I know is really happening, not what I imagine is or could happen. Focusing on a positive thought about the trip - what's your biggest incentive for going?

If I get too nervous to think clearly about that, I have a barrage of magazines and puzzles to choose from. Nothing too in-depth to read or hard to work out, and lots of pictures - just easy distractions for my mind and imagination so that I have to think a little about what I am doing, but not too much.

Then if the anxiety keeps coming or it peaks for some reason, I try not to judge or berrate myself or fight against it, just accept it is there (yes, it feels unpleasant but it's not going to harm me), and move on to a strategy like 5-4-3-2-1. That is when you quickly without judgment just notice 5 things around you that you can see, 5 that you can hear and 5 that you can touch, then move on to 4, then 3 and so on. I have read about how when your mind is distracted, the fear hormones will gradually stop being pumped into your body making you feel uncomfortable, a bit like how fuel stops being pumped into a car engine when you take your foot off the accelerator. After a short while the car engine just runs down to a gentle idle. The fear will subside in your body.

This is pretty much my list of strategies and I move seamlessly between them before and during a flight, with no judgment on myself about how often I need to come back to any of them, and no thinking I 'should' be able to manage without some or any of them, or 'shouldn't' have to keep coming back to any or all of them. The tools and strategies are there to help me, and it's not a test or a comparison with anybody else.

If it's any use, I am thinking of you and sending you all the good vibes and encouragement I can muster for you to be able to get on those flights and make such an exciting trip. You can do it.



Great Zsuzsanna - glad you like the sound of it :-) Let me know know if it works for you. H
Zsuzsanna said:

Hey Helen, that's such an excellent suggestion with the "5-4-3-2-1" strategy -- never tried that before, but I'll definitely try it on my next flight!!! Hope it works for me too ;) 

Love it   5 4 3 2 1


Hi Laura

There was NO-ONE as terrified as me when I needed to go to Australia to see my family who had emigrated. I had NEVER been on a plane was even frightened to go to an airport, but I went and have been 3 times in all now. Yes I'm still very nervous but I do it with everything I have learned here and the support I had/still get.

I hav'nt been able to go this year with health problems (that's been terrifing). this was my post when I came back after the first time. Hope it can encourage you. Good Luck




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