What are your strategies for managing flight fears?

If you are a nervous flyer, how do you manage your fears around flying?

This can include strategies for offsetting fear in the days leading up to the flight, day-of-flight preparation tips, and ways to invite calmness while in-flight.

You’ll be unsurprised to know I have a lot of strategies and tips here, but I’ll start this discussion with my most basic one: Know what to expect!

This is the philosophy that went into the creation of BumpySkies.com, of course, but I also mean it more generally: I found that flights became much less scary once I learned about the different phases of a typical passenger plane flight, from takeoff to landing. This includes, crucially, what each one feels like on the body and looks like out the window, and the sounds that a healthy, happy plane might make as it enters each stage of a routine flight.

In my case, in the early 2010s I found Capt. Stacey Chance’s website, which opened my eyes to how much of my fear came from simply not understanding flight—not just “how flying works”, but specifically how a modern plane trip works, and the real reasons for air travel’s shining safety record compared to most any other mode of transportation.

A few years later I read the book Cockpit Confidential by Patrick Smith, which lays out the science of flight from a passenger-eye perspective. Now, when my nervous self says The engines suddenly got quieter, and I feel like we pitched forward? What’s happening?! I can reply “Well, based on how long it’s been since takeoff, we’ve probably reached cruising altitude. That means we’ve stopped climbing, so yes, we felt a brief forward pitch while we leveled off. That also means the pilots cut back on the throttle from its full-on take-off-and-climb roar, because it doesn’t take so much power (or fuel) to maintain a high speed at this altitude. Hey, we’ve gotten through the first part of the flight! Pretty good!”

So, yeah: If you’ve got a flight you’re nervous about coming up in a few days or weeks? Make the time to do some reading!