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Fear of Flying

Explorer C

I have to fly for work next month and I have never been more afraid of anything... ever.  I started watching videos taken from inside planes during takeoff in an effort to de-sensitize myself but as I watch them my heart is racing and I feel panicked and on the verge of crying.  I have no idea how I am going to do this; my phobia has me paralyzed by the most unimaginable fear.


Does anyone have tips about overcoming fear of flying? Where is the best place to sit? Any ideas on how to survive this would be so appreciated.


Re: Fear of Flying

Frequent Flyer C

Hi emigalvan!


I'm so sorry you are feeling so scared! You can do this, and let me try to answer some of your questions. 


First, it sounds like your anxiety level is pretty high; you should talk to the gate agent about preboarding, so that you can get on the plane with time to find a seat you're comfortable with and plenty of time to get settled in. 


Typically there is less movement felt if you sit in front of the wing, and I'd suggest an aisle seat so that you can get up and use the restroom or walk around a bit if you're feeling like that might be helpful to you. Another idea is to sit on the right side of the plane so that you can see the faces of the flight attendants and know that they aren't worried about anything during the flight. 


I'd suggest also talking to the flight crew As you board and telling them this is your first time flying. Flight Attendants will likely be able to give you a bit of extra attention if they know you have such great fear.


The Southwest Captain's and First Officer's are often very happy to tell you about the airplane and let you see the flight deck before it's time to leave. They can often help alleviate fears a bit if you talk with them. Know that the Southwest pilots are the most experienced in the industry, with many years of flying experience and training. Often they come from military backgrounds and have had experience flying planes in strenuous circumstances. You are in very good hands. 


I'd caution you to not drink too much, just because that can sometimes make everything worse when it comes to this matter. Most Southwest planes have wifi with free music and TV and movies. It might be a good idea to bring an iPad or laptop and some headphones. You can then try to watch a new movie, or listen to some music. 


If you have other specific questions, please ask here and someone will happily answer you!


All the best,



Re: Fear of Flying

Adventurer A

Hi @emigalvan,


Your first flight, that's awesome! Funny thing is that I work in the travel industry and rarely get to travel, so I'm so envious of your journey!


I was always fascinated by airplanes, specifically commercial passenger aviation when I was a kid. I liked to pretend I was a pilot and play with the little diecast toy planes my dad would bring home with him. It was always do fascinating to me, but flying? That was another story. I would always get sooooo nervous! Heart pounding. Felt like I was going to be sick.


You know what though? When I realized what I was about to do (fly) was absolutely freaking amazing and that the people doing it (pilots) were amazing at their job.


That feeling of loss of control? You can look at it at two ways. 1) Being completely terrified that you're not in control or 2) enjoying the opportunity to let go, exhale and enjoy 1-4 hours of time uninterrupted when YOU are in control of your time. It's the only place in the world where that really happens (flying).


When I fly, I'm in control. I decide what I'm going to do with my time. I decide when to relax. I decide when to listen to music. I decide when to play that silly game on my phone. I decide when to turn to my seatmate and learn about their life story or when to look out the window and ponder how all of those fields yield the wheat that makes the bread that I enjoy on my turkey and swiss that I'll likely be packing in my lunchbox next week.


When I fly, it's my time.


On Southwest, I even get to decide where I get to do that by picking my seat. Didn't get an early boarding group? Even better, I get to pick my seatmate.


Nervous? I've got the most luving, kind and charismatic crew in the sky and I know they're going to take great care of me.


Flying is amazing and the only time that I am in complete control of what i get to do. I love it and it's one of the best feelings in the world. 


Getting there isn't so bad either, especially when it's somewhere new.


Do you mind if I ask where you're travelling?

Re: Fear of Flying

Explorer C

As a retired airline captain and licensed therapist, I've spent 35 years working with fearful fliers and developing more effective methods. My phone number is listed as a fear of flying resource with Southwest.


First, here are some videos that will help.


I also have a free app that provides a mini-fear of flying course. Download it at

Re: Fear of Flying

Explorer A

I am not afraid of flying and never have been really.  I used to be nervous, but not really anymore.  However, I do have General Anxiety Disorder, autism, and several phobias.  My therapist always talks about desensitizing, so I'm glad you mentioned that.  From what my therapist has taught me, watching videos is one of the first steps to desensitizing.  He tells me: 1) talk to people who have done it, 2) read about it, 3) look at pictures of it, 4) watch videos of it, 5) look at it in person, etc.  You do each step until you're comfortable doing that step, then move on to the next step.  He actually used the fear of flying from another one of his patients as an example when talking to me.  He said, that for this patient's fear of flying, they talked about it, read about flying and people's experiences, then looked at pictures of airplanes inside and out, watched videos of airplanes inside and out, then they drove by the airport.  Then another time, they actually went inside the airport.  A subsequent time, they actually bought a ticket and checked in.  Another time, they went through security, then they made it to the gate, then they actually got on the plane, then they actually flew.  Now, this was a very severe case and took several months (and a lot of money in buying tickets it sounds like).  But, that is the basic process he has taught me and it really works for me.


Although I don't have anxiety about flying itself, I do have anxiety being around strangers and being outside of my house (I'm agoraphobic).  I preboard and I have found the seat that works best for me.  I sit right in front of the wing and the hum of the engine calms my anxiety.  It's that white noise sound that helps me.  I carry keep my head down and play games on my phone usually.  Everyone is different though.  The previous posts sound like good advice too.  Just talk to the workers at the gate and on the plane and find what works best for you. 

Re: Fear of Flying

Explorer C

Get this FREE APP

It is pretty much a free mini-course on fear of flying. Also, measures turbulence and proves the plane is OK.