Just say hi before my today's flight with my family from San Francisco back to Zurich.

I am relatively calm partially because the residual effect of Xanax from last night, but also because we planned everything today with large time margins. I like flights in the afternoon or later (although when up in the air, I feel more comfortable when it is light outside) because there is so much less of a rush.

If available, I will tune in to the front camera, reiterate to myself that turbulence is merely a comfort issue and repeatedly tell myself how experienced the crew is and that I can allow myself to relax knowing that they are in control.

I will let you know how it went.

Patrik

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Good attitude Patrik. Absolutely right about turbulence. Remind yourself of that. When I flew back to the UK from the US earlier in the year it was an overnight flight and it was fine. You'll cope fine! Cheers...

Hi Nick:

During the first two hours of the flight we were rocked quite a bit (I guess that's why they call them the Rockies ;) ). Service was delayed more than one hour because of turbulence. Also the flight attendants had to stay seated for more than on hour. The pilot announced that the condition would continue for about ten minutes according to ATC, but lasted longer than that. I later asked a flight attendant how intense he would rate the turbulence. I was curious because I know that I am more sensitive to it and wanted to calibrate my perception of it. He said it was moderate turbulence. I have experienced quite a few flights with moderate turbulence, but it usually did not last for so long. And only on one flight it was stronger, which was during a take off after a thunder storm passed the airport. We were sitting on the taxiway for almost two hours while rain ran down the windows like waterfalls. The turbulence during the climbout was intense, but short. However, I don't know if it would already have qualified as severe.

Despite a lot of stress prior to boarding, I was able to stay calm during moderate turbulence. Especially helpful was repeating that turbulence is not a safety issue like a mantra. Most of the time, I could also maintain a certain distance in the sense of a scientific attitude towards turbulence: Let's now scrutinize every movement of the plane ... etc. Also helpful was turning my head to the side and watch out the window (we were seated on the middle seat row). I repeatedly tensed up, but could create a distance to my experience by doing the 5-4-3-2-1 exercise (describe 5 things you see, you hear, you are in contact with your body, then 4, then 3, etc.). That turns "what ifs" into "what is". I also took another Xanax Retard two hours before boarding. In that way the peak plasma level was reached exactly during the turbulent phase of the flight (lucky draw ;) ).

Although it was uncomfortable, but I think exposure to those more than one hour lasting moderate bumps probably helped me desensitize. I will report how that affects my future experience of flying and in particular turbulence.

The rest of the flight was very smooth (it is important to remind oneself that turbulence once started will also stop again). I even slept about three hours. I noticed this because the remaining flight time was suddenly three hours less. The kids did great, slept most of the time.

I am pretty excited. Now no more planned flights. But we will probably do a short trip within Europe in December or January. Next year, as almost every year, we will fly again to Taiwan and to the US.

Patrik

Well done Patrik, great courage and thanks for sharing your experiences and professional insight with the rest of us.

Did you say how many flights you'd done in 2013, because it seems quite a lot! And I'm curious, being a 'worried parent', whether you find it easier or harder to fly with your children? I'm hoping to fly with my children next year (4 and 6) and have no idea what to expect. Some people tell me I'll be so focussed on them that I'll forget to be anxious. I like that idea but not sure whether I'm convinced by it!

David

Hi David

Thank you for your reply. I hope that my experience and reflections on it may be of help to others. I think I have been making some progress this year (I flew 10 legs, 6 of them long-haul). On the last two flights, I could sometimes completely relax, as it had been before I developed a fear of flying. I am still a bit sceptical though, but the trend is definitely towards a more enjoyable flying experience.

It's a tough question whether it is easier with or without kids on board. Only the first two flights this year were without kids, but it was a 1 hour flight and I returned on the same day. I probably would find it more difficult to fly far away from the kids for a week or longer. It is stressful with very small kids like our 1.5 year old daughter, while our 5.5 year old was relatively easy. I cannot say that kids distracted me from my fear. When I felt the need to manage my fear actively, my wife took care of the kids. If your partner flies with you, then it is helpful to discuss our needs, strategies, etc. beforehand. Flying with kids is manageable and fun at times, especially when they have questions on flying and you can show off your vast knowledge on the topic :-)

Patrik

Thanks Patrik :-)

Well done Patrik :)! It must have been uncomfortable turbulence but now you know that even if it felt so bad nothing bad actually happened. I am hoping to take a few flights this year, hopefully will not cancel last minute!  

I'm hoping to do the same Natalia, without pulling out! Just remember, there's no such thing as 'must'. 

David

 

Thank you for your feedback!

Natalia Walasek said:

Well done Patrik :)! It must have been uncomfortable turbulence but now you know that even if it felt so bad nothing bad actually happened. I am hoping to take a few flights this year, hopefully will not cancel last minute!  

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