25 things I do to help my fear of flying – my Flight Ritual

I have a ritual of sorts when flying.

I have spoken before of my fear of flying and the crazy thoughts that run through my head when I fly.

I’m getting much better at managing my fear of flying, but I don’t think it’s something that will ever completely leave me. I can’t imagine ever flying a plane and not thinking about the giant bird falling out of the sky.

Are you scared of flying and don’t know what to do about it?

Enjoying Qantas Business Class flight from Australia to USA
Flying business class always helps!

My flight ritual steadies my nerves a little and helps me to get over the fear of flying.

How I get over my fear of flying as soon as I board

  1. Get organized with my pens, reading book, iPod, and journal in the pocket in front of me.
  2. Settle in and take out the in-flight magazine to read.
  3. Do the Sudoku to take my mind off the take-off jitters.
  4. Do not listen to safety advice because I feel like if I listen it is a sign I’ll have to use it. Become engrossed in Sudoku.
  5. Pop head up to listen to safety advice just in case. Mind thoughts say, “Pay attention to how you blow up your jacket because you’ll need it.” Fear freaks out, “Don’t listen because you’re casting an evil spell if you bring your attention to it and you’ll have to use it.”
  6. Return to Sudoku with the relief of knowing that the info is useless because if the plane crashes, we’re screwed anyway, so stop worrying about it.
  7. Double freak out as I’m writing Point 6 as the plane is taxing. Voodoo magic will strike.
  8. Think happy thoughts of my destination and imagine all the fun I’ll have.
  9. Look out the window during take off. I feel if I am watching the motion, I have control over the aircraft and can make it fly safe because I am magic like that.
  10. Grab Craig’s hand as we hit air space because there ain’t no effing way that plane can make it up. Start hyperventilating with all the weird noises, shakes, bumps and the LULL.
  11. Tell Craig that from now on we take road trips because that is way safer.
  12. Stare out the window as we bank and soar, and feel total awe at how huge the earth is and how small everything looks from up here.
  13. Flying is pretty cool. Return to Sudoku relaxed.
  14. Read articles. Get bored as they are usually uninspiring.
  15. Listen to iPod meditation to return to Zen.
  16. Watch movies as dinner arrives. Choose either comedy or tear-jerker drama like Dear John and bawl my eyes out. Ryan Gosling gets first choice.
  17. Drink alcohol to calm nerves and feel important because it’s rare to get it on the plane. Unlike my first flight when I was 20 and my 2 girlfriends and I drank the plane dry of bourbon. Now I have gin to start and a red wine with dinner, maybe two. (There was this one time I had bourbon at 10:30 am on the plane to calm my nerves)
  18. Write a few travel blog posts, watch a few movies, read a book, or try to sleep. If I have my own entertainment system, I don’t because there are too many movies, games, and songs to entertain myself with. No wonder ADHD is on the rise.
  19. Stare out the window at the fluffy clouds holding us up and be mesmerized like watching the licking camp-fire flames.
  20. Pace the plane and do my exercises.
  21. Ask for another drink should turbulence be too scary or I become too bored.
  22. As we descent and move closer to touchdown, I run through the math and say statements such as, “If the plane fell from this height, we’d have a better chance.” WTF? Is there even any Math for that?
  23. On landing heave a sigh of relief. We made it.
  24. Think about how fast we are moving and silently scream at the pilot to “slam on the brakes, man!”
  25. Disembark and say, “Thank God we don’t have to do that again for awhile I’m so over flying.” Next time I fly business class.

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Do you have a fear of flying? Here is my flight ritual to help me overcome this fear. What do you do?

Do you have a fear of flying? What’s your flight ritual?

42 thoughts on “25 things I do to help my fear of flying – my Flight Ritual”

  1. Oh jeez. That sounds exactly like me. However, I recently watched a cockpit cam of a Lufthansa jet landing at SFO, and I was simply amazed at how that damn plane practically landed itself! I fly to Belgrade next week, so I’m just going to try and keep happy thoughts of smiling pilots flicking a few switches and twisting a few knobs to make the plane go, like magic!

    1. Yes! Apparently they only fly the plane themselves on landing and take off. Everything else is computerized. I think that kinda scares me more!

  2. Same thoughts!!! Mine also include leavin my 4 children to be raised by someone else and maybe my hubs and I should fly separate to aboid both of us leaving them!

    1. Oh gosh, I have that one all the time! When we are flying together, I always think, well at least we are together if the plane goes down!!

  3. Hahaha! I’m pretty sure we have the same reactions when it comes to flying. But my list would also have to include:

    21.2 – When we hit turbulance glare at my husband, while applying ninja grip to his arm, willing him into telling me that everything is fine.

    Thanks for the post. It’s good to know you’re not the only crazy one!

    1. Oh yeah, do the ninja turbulence grip too. Sometimes I eyeball the hostess to try to see if there is anything going on I should know about!!

  4. OMG I could have written this too, except possibly even more fearful I think sometimes I start crying when they put the seatbelt sign on or mention there is going to be turbulence and I start obsessing over the weather at the destination and how windy it is πŸ™ I’ve flown HEAPS too ever since I was 5, and can’t imagine the thought of stopping because there are so many places still to go and I do love being there – just not getting there. I have found my fear is worse since I had kids and I had a some rough turbulence years ago and a botched landing where we had to re take off just before we touch the ground and I really crapped my pants. My family want me to get help but I just can’t see how anything can change the realness of it when I’m in the air, I can be rational down here but in the moment not so much.

    I go over and over in my head how many flights there are a day, how many people are flying all the time I think of the staff and how they are flying almost every day and they’re fine and they have families and they don’t want to die either. I like to see the pilots either as they’re getting on or through the window when waiting to board. I chant OM (quietly) when I really need to take my mind off it and recently after reading a great book called The Deepest Acceptance by Jeff Foster I just repeat “in this moment I’m ok”, more recently I’ve started asking the angels to keep me safe and surround the plane in white light. Also I always try and get seats as far forward in the plane as possible because it’s less bumpy.

    Thanks for sharing your fears too Caz, I didn’t realise and it’s nice to know I’m not alone!!

    1. Love this comment as I do all these other things as well!! I’m always checking out the pilots and convincing myself about how safe flying is. Too funny! I think I might have to read that book

    2. I start going mind-crazy when they say “we’re expecting a bit of turbulence ahead, so we’re turning on the fasten seatbelt sign.” I mean, I’m glad they KNOW it’s coming, but the anticipation kills me. I hold on to my fiance’s hand until his hand turns white.

      Nice to know there are other world travelers out there that get nervous like I do!

  5. Dianne Travelletto

    Ha! God I hate the take off too. I’d also include:

    – Once seated, ready for take off, turn around and scope the plane for spare seats – ideally, spare rows.
    – If spare row spotted, gather things and be ready to launch the second the seat belt sign goes off and claim free row of seats. Quickly spread stuff across rows and lie down with jumper over head (i.e. leave me be to sleep).

    – Once landed and the seat belt signs goes off, stand up, and then try to slowly pack up my things if I can get to my day pack in the overhead locker. Breathe deeply as I am (still) standing, squished between seats for what feels like friggin forever, waiting waiting waiting. I want to scream, “Get me off this f-ing plane NOW!!”. I try to relax and tell myself that claustrophobia isn’t real. I’m okay. I’ve sat here that long, another few minutes won’t kill me. wrong. GET ME OFF THIS PLANE NOW. Try to not panic-pant. Look down, and pray for patience.

    – At luggage carousel, again, look down and pray for patience as my internal voice scowls, “Where the f–k is my luggage? where’s my bag? where’s my bag? where’s my bag?! Hurry up.”
    – breathe and as soon as I spot my luggage, thank the flying Gods that my luggage has made it. Phew.

    I so wish someone would really invent Star-Trek travel, so we could just be beamed up and arrive. Don’t you?

    1. Classic!! I do all these things too. Can’t stand the long-winded get off the plane procedures. I’m still hoping for the beam me up to happen soon.

  6. This was hilarious!!! I am the same issues, only I don’t leave my seat unless I have to use the restroom. My husband and two kids know I have my crazy rituals to fly and one of them is I have to take something (or drink something) to fly. Unfortunately I’m in a family that loves to travel and it never gets any easier. Thanks for the blog. I loved it.

  7. #9 and #22 for SURE! I had a terrible flight in Burma about 7 years ago and another one recently flying from the UK to Seatte, and we had to fly through an epic lightning storm while landing.

    Needless to say, we’re alive after both, but it makes me have the jitters while flying now.

    I’m usually fine on takeoff and landing, but if there is turbulence, I’m all about opening the window and looking out. It really does make it feel like you have more control!

  8. OK Caz I have flown over 200000 miles this year already and I love to fly.1st stop drinking, drink water you lose over a pint of water on a 3 hour flight.If the flight is over 5 hours take Xanax or Valum to relax and sleep. That will relax you.I took off in a #8 Typoon a few weeks ago in Hong Kong without even a few bumps the pilot’s are that good on United.Stop thinking about what could happen and think about how well trained the pilot’s are.Every 6 months they go through retraining. Turbulence is just air usually flying through a small strom which the pilots try to fly around.Just keep thinking that flying is the safest way to travel and you really don’t have any choice but to fly.I did read about a guy that has traveled the world without ever geting on a plane ,but thats hard to do.Ken

  9. Ha ha! That was funny I get a little nervous flying although I have no idea why I have travelled a lot my whole life. I always have to watch the safety talk etc because I have this thing that if I don’t I’ll have to use it.

  10. I’m with you Caz. The in-flight safety demonstration just makes me more nervous. The seat belt? What’s with that? My kid has a better restraint in her pram and we’re lucky if that ever goes faster than 2km per hour, let alone 900! 120 flights down and I’m still as nervous as the first time but those rituals help as does knocking back Rescue Remedy like its water πŸ™‚

  11. Hi Caz, I’m really surprised that you look out of the window on take off. I find it’s easier to look forward, then you can pretend that you are on a train, or something else not suspended thousands of feet in the air. But I agree wholeheartedly with all the other points. Thanks for the chuckle.

  12. This sounds super similar to my flying rituals. Only more random exercise times and sometimes just closing my eyes tight while taking deep breaths!

    After flying 15+ times the past year, you would think a person would get used to these things! πŸ˜‰

  13. Hahaha! Very recognizable. I imagine myself to be in a bus. That’s one of the reasons I want an aisle seat. No window looking for me. And I try hard to book a flight with own movie system, so that I can binge-watch;-)

    1. Oh no they weren’t with us on this one! I can sometimes write posts, at least with Kalyra it’s never a problem as she’s a great flyer.

  14. It used to take 10 mg. of Valium to get me on a plane, until one day I decided that I was excited to be going, not scared, and it has not bothered me since. Just got home this afternoon from the GalΓ‘pagos Islands, slept most of the way! You can get over it!

  15. I am exactly the same except I can’t look out the window on take off and it usually takes me 30 minutes to calm down afterwards. I can’t wait until the day when you can use electronic devices on take off on all planes so I can meditate as we take off.

  16. How do you cope when ther has been a recent air disaster, and you are flying a week later. I have allsorts of crazy thoughts to the stage I don’t want to fly!

    1. I know. It’s pretty icky. You just have to think about how very little plane crashes there are. And the recent one is the statistic, which means your odds are really good. Plane travel is really really safe. It’s amazing how thorough the security checks are. Just keep that in mind and have a drink once you get in the air to calm your nerves. Bourbon always works well πŸ˜‰

  17. I’m 12 and don’t usually suffer with flying. However, I’ve found that this year I’m suffering and were Hong on holiday in 5 days (to Gran Canaria, cycling). I just have a funny feeling and have been looking at many of these websites. Does anybody have any really good tips?

    1. Hey, Joe! There’s no need to be afraid. Flying has been named the second safest mode of travelling (after elevators and escalators). Roads are far more worrisome. When you’re in a flight, try imagining that you’re in a car, travelling on a bumpy road. The trip will be over soon. In addition, there are millions of people who don’t like flying (so you aren’t alone!), but very few of them stop flying. Cheer up!

  18. Haha my list doesn’t look much different! Especially the don’t pay atrention…oh wait what was the order in case I need to use this?! I always try to fall asleep asap, so I can’t even get scared. The change in pressure always knocks me out.

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