Aerophobia: Conquer your fear of flying

Aerophobia: Conquer your fear of flying

Courage is not the absence of fear, rather, it is the opinion that something else is much more important than fear itself" Ambrose Redmoon

The fear of flying is very common among the population, approximately one in three people experience some kind of fear or anxiety related to this. However, flying by plane represents one of the safest ways to travel, while traveling by car has greater risks. As science and technology progress, it has been achieved that the risk of flying in a commercial aircraft is minimal, coupled with the fact that before the airplanes take flight, they go through various safety tests.


  • 1 The safety of traveling by plane
  • 2 Aerophobia or fear of flying?
  • 3 Panic attack or crisis of anguish
  • 4 Aerophobia and other related disorders
  • 5 Treatments against aerophobia
  • 6 Aerophobic rescue technology
  • 7 5 great tips to conquer your fear of flying

The safety of traveling by plane

According to IATA (International Air Transport Association), the total number of accidents and fatalities decreased compared to the average of the last five years, confirming that Aviation is increasingly safe, so it represents the most reliable way to cover long distances in a short time.

Having knowledge about some statistics on safety and air accidents does not eradicate neither the fear nor the anguish that many experience when they have to fly, mainly because many fears and fears go beyond reason; knowledge does not always lead to a change in behavior or feeling.

Being under fear, we are in a subjective and irrational terrain, dominated by the primitive brain, the amygdala is like the "messenger of fear", which tries to arrange the body to respond to a danger or threat (real or perceived) It does so through certain physiological reactions that prepare us to take action such as the segregation of cortisol, norepinephrine and adrenaline, which put the body in an alert state. Likewise, The individual can respond with some avoidance behavior, very characteristic behavior within the phobias.

Aerophobia or fear of flying?

Phobias are a special kind of fear, knowing about symptomatic manifestations can help you be better prepared in case you are afraid to fly. Many people may experience a certain degree of anxiety or fear before and while the aircraft plans for the skies, this is normal. However, what distinguishes a fear from a specific phobia, are some factors such as: intensity, frequency and duration of symptoms.

In aerophobia, the fear is excessive, irrational and persistent, it is triggered when the person has to fly or knows that he will have to do so in the near future; The individual may present avoidance behaviors and anticipatory anxiety, which cause significant discomfort, which can affect family and work relationships:

  • Why didn't you go to close the deal with the Japanese partners? It was an excellent growth opportunity for the company.
  • At the last minute, I decided not to go to Japan to close the negotiation deal, I think it was not such a good idea after all.

During the different stages of the disorder, the person can go from the denial of the problem, to the rationalization to try to justify the reasons why it is not necessary to make that flight: “I am not afraid to fly, I just do not like it”; “If I want that gift trip to Europe that my parents give me, but I prefer to postpone it”; "I want to go, but I don't have anyone to accompany me, it's a long and dangerous journey." When you are a person who does not need to travel by plane regularly, aerophobia will not bring you many problems, especially if it is not linked to other disorders.  

Conversely, when the individual requires traveling by air for work, personal or family reasons frequently, aerophobia represents a great challenge that requires psychological attention. Although the love for his family is a lot, the fear can be of such dimensions that prevents the person from traveling by plane to be able to meet them when there are serious situations, such as illness and death in the family or simply to be able to attend an event important family, to cite some typical examples.

The phobic character arises based on certain fundamental aspects: a constant alert status, which makes the person in an almost permanent attitude of vigilance to detect threats that could come from abroad, but is also aware of those generated within his mind. The escape attitude and avoidance behaviors are characteristic of the condition.

Panic attack or crisis of anguish

In the background of these conditions, especially within specific phobias such as aerophobia, crisis of anguish may manifest (panic attack), with its own symptoms such as: fear that can reach terror, apprehension, shortness of breath, palpitations, feeling strong chest tightness or chest discomfort.

Those who suffer a crisis of this type, may have abdominal discomfort, choking or suffocation, so it is advised that day and the previous make light meals, do not drink stimulants and as far as possible do not eat during the flight, and that the symptomatology of aerophobia manifests itself in physical aspects of the person as well; with this certain complications that could further exacerbate anxiety and fear can be avoidedDue to difficulties in the digestive process, remember that other somatic symptoms may be nausea, dizziness and even fainting.

The sociocultural and family situation influence the development of phobiasIn fact, when there is a history that a family member has presented a certain type of fear, some relatives may develop it, this may be a series of learned behaviors, since the subject was formed to respond in that way to certain stimuli that can trigger him conflict, psychologists can help treat these aspects, so that these conditions do not last in future generations.

Aerophobia and other related disorders

"The fear of flying is rarely just being in the air. It is usually a combination of claustrophobia, fear of strange noises, turbulence and the feeling of not being in control" Stacey Chance, American Airlines Pilot Veteran & Creator of the Fear of Flying program

Aerophobia is classified within anxiety disorders, it can be only from situational type, that is, it has to do with the action of flying and related to this, but it can also be combined with environmental phobias with some fears such as: fear of storms, cliffs and water, for example; which may indicate another type of phobias in turn, a psychologist can determine this, the most common with which it is usually mixed is related to the fear of heights: acrophobia, so that the person experiences higher degrees of anxiety, can become paralyzing while in the middle of the flight, because the individual can not escape or avoid the situation, but neither reduce their discomfort.

It may be sustained by other behavioral disorders in turn, such as distress disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, where compulsive behaviors aim to neutralize anxiety. Other commonly associated conditions are the acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder, which happens for having experienced an unpleasant situation on a flight or something that could link the experience, this can cause them an extra dose of fear, called “resignification afterwards”.

Treatments against aerophobia

Inaction cultivates fear. The action cultivates trust and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit at home thinking about it. Get out and take care of him. ”Give Carnegie

Currently there are several types of treatments that have proven to have good results. The exposure therapy and the desensitization techniques they help to program cognitive and physiological responses again, through the strategies that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides. It can be in group or individual mode, there are help programs of different kinds, for different tastes and needs, the best systems to lose the fear of flying also include part of this in their methodology.

The virtual training programs they have simulators of environments and even sounds characteristic of a flight, such as the engine with its changes and the turbines, whose noise can shake some passengers. This type of system also uses the exposure technique. One of the pioneers in this type of treatment is the pilot and psychologist Tom bunn, who established the first “fear of flying” program and worked with him until the foundation of SOAR (1982). Thus developing more effective methods to deal with problems of fear of flight.

Technology to the rescue of the aerophobes

Technology can be your great ally to take flight. Today There are many applications that have been developed by aviation experts in partnership with some behavioral professionals, creating tools that you can comfortably carry on your mobile devices. Not all require an Internet connection and have proven to have good results.

Some of them, for example, describe to users what is happening at the time of the flight, indicate the places they are going through, take into account the weather, the wind direction and their force to calculate the arrival time, In the event that there is any setback for which they are delayed, the program explains the reasons.

So much weather conditions such as turbulence can be a trigger for anxiety for people suffering from aerophobiaTherefore, most of these mobile applications in their established programs can detect this type of movement and provide the user with an explanation, as well as some tips and exercises that are ready to apply that may be useful. These types of technologies can be an excellent complement to your psychological treatment, which should not be substituted, given the nature of the condition.

5 great tips to conquer your fear of flying

If you are afraid to fly, these suggestions can be of great help to you; If you suffer from aerophobia, it is advisable in addition to this, that you decide to start a psychological treatment for you.

Plan your flight strategically

  1. Choose appropriate airlines that have the safety standards. Aircraft that bring seats for more than 30 passengers have to go through strict certifications.
  2. If you can choose, try to select a aisle seat and that is close to those who can give you attention in case you need it.
  3. It is advisable that the day of the flight or a day before you have everything ready, in order to eliminate other unnecessary sources of stress and anxiety, you can: leave all the necessary documentation prepared, the carry-on and carry-on luggage that you will carry, as well as your mobile devices with a recharged battery from a previous night.

Knowledge can give you some peace of mind

  • It is convenient that you inform yourself about how the aircraft operates, the security equipment and systems that make up the aircraft.
  • As soon as you go up, pay attention to the directions, try to meet the staff and pay attention to what should be done in case of emergencies.

Tools you can use during the flight

  1. Use neurobiology in your favor! Releasing oxytocin counteracts feelings of fear, while reducing stress and anxiety a bit. How? Do activities that you like to do such as listening to your favorite music and reading, for example. Remembering events and nice people who are meaningful in your life and make you smile can also help you.
  2. Learn techniques of management anxiety and stressBy reducing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body, you may be less dominated by fear and act with more reason.
  3. Apply techniques of meditation and of relaxation, taking long and deep breaths can be very useful for emotional regulation.
  4. The music with slow and smooth rhythms reminiscent of the heartbeat, they can help to bring a little calm and drive away anxiety, at the same time, you avoid the sensory perception that the sound of the turbines or the engine can produce in you, when using your headphones.
  5. If you like reading, read a good book or magazine of interest to you, can make you focus your attention on that task and think less about what worries you.
  6. Some of the applications for mobile devices that are used to treat aerophobia are: Skyuru, Take me up, Turbcast Y Fear of flying-SOAR, among many others; The last one was developed by Tom Bunn.

Prepare your body for the flight

  1. Avoid stimulating drinks the day of your departure and even from about 24 hours before your flight.
  2. During the trip, it is advisable that don't drink too many liquids. The consumption of alcoholic beverages is not a good option, as many believe; It is preferable to avoid any variable that could cause your anxiety levels to skyrocket.
  3. Eat a healthy and balanced diet. If you can, avoid eating during the flight especially if you suffer from aerophobia. If it is a long trip and you cannot avoid it, try to eat lightly, since carrying a completely empty stomach is not a good idea either.

Ask for personal assistance

Having a phobia is no reason to be ashamed, it is common, many people suffer from different kinds of phobias and fears. Talking to someone qualified in this regard can avoid unnecessary complications during the flight, denotes maturity on your part and that way they can provide support, since they have the necessary experience and training. Remember that you are not alone!


The fear of flying is frequent. However, aerophobia is a disorder that fits into the classification of anxiety disorders, within the context of this condition can occur crisis of distress and other serious disorders, as well as avoidance behaviors in situations that may represent a problem for the individual , so it is important that aerophobia be treated.

There are several therapies and types of training that some psychologists can provide to people with this condition. To cope with the flight, when there is some fear or anxiety, it is advisable to go as informed, prepared, rested and relaxed, so that the other factors that could put the risk at risk emotional balance of the user is weakened or reduced to a minimum, thus having the probability of having a more pleasant or at least not so tortuous trip.


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