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Severe flight anxiety

New Arrival

I have never been on an airplane, yet, I am traveling from Nashville to Dallas in 2wks by myself...I am terrified!  A family member died in a plane crash, when I was younger, and it caused my fear of flying. Not trying to be a drama queen, but I broke out in hives from just purchasing my ticket. I would just drive to Dallas, but it's 14hrs from my home, and the thought of driving that far by myself also terrifies me. Guess I am just looking for any advice or tips on how to allay my fears. I thought about asking my Dr to prescribe me 2 doses of an anti anxiety drug like Valium or Ativan (1 for the flight to, and another for my return flight) but not sure if that is a wise decision or not. So...long story short, if anyone can offer up some advice I would greatly appreciate it, because I am kind of freaking out. Just absolutely terrified of all the myriad of things that can go wrong on a flight. Thank you. 

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Re: Severe flight anxiety

Top Contributor

@AjL91179 wrote:

I have never been on an airplane, yet, I am traveling from Nashville to Dallas in 2wks by myself...I am terrified!  A family member died in a plane crash, when I was younger, and it caused my fear of flying. Not trying to be a drama queen, but I broke out in hives from just purchasing my ticket. I would just drive to Dallas, but it's 14hrs from my home, and the thought of driving that far by myself also terrifies me. Guess I am just looking for any advice or tips on how to allay my fears. I thought about asking my Dr to prescribe me 2 doses of an anti anxiety drug like Valium or Ativan (1 for the flight to, and another for my return flight) but not sure if that is a wise decision or not. So...long story short, if anyone can offer up some advice I would greatly appreciate it, because I am kind of freaking out. Just absolutely terrified of all the myriad of things that can go wrong on a flight. Thank you. 


Sorry to hear about your family member. The industry is very safe today, here are a few ideas:

 

  • If your doctor agrees with the prescription then try that. It is also possible at most airports and onboard to have an adult beverage if that would be enough to help you relax (regardless of the time of day) and you want a lower impact option. Don't combine them! 
  • Statistics are very good - 2.5 million people fly every day, and US domestic carriers had gone a span of nine years between the most recent fatal accidents.
  • Engineering is also strong - all critical systems have backups, the 737 is a robust aircraft, can fly on one engine, etc. Maintenance is very thorough and the industry as a whole is regulated for many facets of operation.
  • Searching the internet suggests having some relaxing music to play on your iPod. Maybe a book.
  • Take deep breaths if you feel anxiety coming on. Have something to remind you to do that.
  • I'd recommend trying to sit in the front half of the airplane just to minimize noise from the engines - although perfectly normal maybe you can avoid that extra sensory effect.
  • On 737-700s seat 7A and 8F are "window" seats without windows in case it would be helpful not to see outside. On the 737-800 aircraft the windowless windows are 9A and 10F. You could also take an aisle seat if it helps avoid the window, although you won't be able to control the window shade then.
  • Another idea to reduce anxiety might be to fly earlier in the day if possible. Delays tend to happen, and then cascade, so that you can minimize your risk of delay by flying earlier. This doesn't affect safety in any study that I've seen, but it may help you to avoid sitting around in an airport if there are delays that day.
  • Also try to pick flights that originate in BNA and at DAL if possible so there won't be through passengers taking up the seats in the front half of the plane.
  • Pay for the early bird check-in if it eases your mind about the boarding position.

 

Hopefully others will have some ideas for you as well. As a "somewhat" frequent-flyer I encourage you to give it a try. It is a safe and convenient way to go on longer trips.

 

 

 

Home airport MDW, frequent visitor to MCO to see the mouse.
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Re: Severe flight anxiety

Active Member

Hi There!

 

I was really anxious prior to my SWA flight in July. Here's what I found to be helpful for me:

  • Tell the flight crew...no, seriously. They are trained to deal with all kinds of situations, including anxious fliers. They will keep an eye on you during the flight.
  • Sitting toward the center of the aircraft offers the smoothest ride if turbulence make you nervous.
  • If you're the social type, chat with the person next to you if they seem receptive to conversation.
  • What helped me during my three-hour flight was playing mindless game apps on my phone (wear earbuds so you don't disturb your seatmates).
  • Avoid alchohol: it can exacerbate feelings of dizziness...a real bummer if you're prone to motion sickness.
  • Pack a small bag with comfort items(see SWA carry-on policy for speficifations). It can be your favorite book, a stuffed animal, drawing pads, anything that helps you relax.
  • If you're not sure of something mid-flight, ask one of the flight attendants
  • If you can, start watching flight videos of YouTube of planes taking off and landing. Many of them are well done and show the beauty of being in the air.
  • Familiarize yourself with the sounds that aircraft make: deployment and retraction of flaps and slates, landing gear retracting after take-off and being deployed prior to landing.
  • If the unknown is what makes you most anxious, there are lots of resources online created for fearful fliers by airlines pilots themselves. I had the best luck with Capt. Ron's Fearless Flight.
  • As DancingDavid suggested, try to book early in the day as to avoid delays. Try to book a direct non-stop flight if you can. If you can't, allow plenty of time for your layover so you're not rushed catching your connecting flight.
  • The 737 series is a roomy, robust bird. An aircraft cannot go airborne unless it has been thouroughtly checked. The pilot (usually the captain) does a full-walk-around outside the aircraft before take-off.
  • If you live near the airport, make an advance trip out there to locate security, parking, etc. You'll know what to expect.
  • Allow plenty of time to head out to the airport. If you'r taking your car and leaving it, scope out lots ahead of time so there is one less thing to worry about on flight day. Allow at least 2 hours to park, get through security, locating your gate, and waiting. Boarding generally starts 30 min. before departure. It's better to have too much time on your hands than not enough time. Rushing exacerbates anxiety.
  • Medication in some cases can enhance anxiety, so talk it over carefully with your health care provider.
  • If you are flying to a happy event, say, a wedding or to meet up with friends, think about that event or people while in flight. It really does make a difference.
  • This YouTube video helped me so much.."the Plane Whisperer" it was awesome.
  • Continue reaching out to the community here on the SWA boards. They were so helpful when I posted before my flight, and believe it or not, I now am not so nervous. I even enjoyed my return flight home and am looking forward to my next flight.

Hang in there...I'm sure others will chime in, too. Check back with us, let us know how you're doing, and be sure to report back after your trip! 🙂

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Re: Severe flight anxiety

Top Contributor

Aftrernoon.

 

Many flyers experience anxiety. Many have ended up here asking for advice. Here'sd a link to previous discussions with people like you. There are many good suggestions listed. Take a deep breath. Chances are very good that you'll do fine. Enjoy your trip!

 

https://www.southwestaircommunity.com/t5/In-the-Air/Extremely-Nervous-Flyer-Flight-on-Thursday/m-p/8...

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Re: Severe flight anxiety

New Arrival

I hope your flight went well for you.  I have the same feelings you have,  I haven't flown since 1995 and I'm going to go to Houston on Oct 27th all by myself!  I feel like a first time flyer.  Previous to 1995 I flew quite a bit and really enjoyed it,  love sitting by the window and looking at how beautiful Planet Earth is!  Wish me luck!

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Re: Severe flight anxiety

Rising Star

@lilajune since you have good memories around 1995, you can use those feelings towards feeling comfortable on the plane. Put your mind at ease and keep yourself busy either watching a movie or reading a book. Just remind yourself, the crew are all trained professionals who can handle any situation. You are in good hands and very safe. 

 

Have a a great trip to Houston and report back how your flight went. 

 


SWA Passenger, Community Champion
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Re: Severe flight anxiety

New Arrival

Thank You Passenger 1C  I'm looking forward to flying again for sure!  I'm getting myself all in a tizzy about navigating the airports,  Layover in Nashville where I change planes,  then on to Houston.   I know once I get off the plane in Nashville,  I will find the gate where I must be to change plans to Houston and I'm staying put. no wandering around for me!  It's a 3 hour layover.