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How To Overcome Nervousness Of Flying Longhaul  
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Posted (5 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 4476 times:

OK, in recent weeks, I've been growing somewhat nervous about my upcoming transatlantic flight back to Germany (most likely on KL758 from PTY to AMS and from there back to HAM).

Throughout my life, I was never afraid of flying, and even though I watched many disaster films on flying and heard about crashes, I never acquired any fear of flying. I'm still not afraid of flying but in recent years, I've developed a fear of heights, which is making me nervous about flying (combined with occasional fear of terrorist attacks, as ridiculous as it sounds).

I know that flying is the safest way of travel, but nevertheless: any suggestions on how to overcome this nervousness of flying/fear of heights, and regain the confidence I still had 12 years ago when I flew transatlantic for the first time?

15 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20244 posts, RR: 59
Reply 1, posted (5 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 4476 times:

Talk to your doctor. Explain. Ask for some sleeping pills, just enough to get you through the flight.

Most of us will be happy to help out with a request like that.


User currently offlineJetsGo From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 3086 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (5 years 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 4469 times:

As an aviation lover myself, I know all too much how you feel. I've noticed the fear...escalating, I guess you could say over the past couple years. For example, I was in Italy back in October and despite the fact I love airplanes, airports, and flying in general, I couldn't help but fear that we could always end up like AF447 somewhere between ATL and MXP. I didn't visit a doctor, but I had some generic Target brand sleep aid which only did the trick after downing a few glasses of wine hours later.


Marine Corps Aviation, The Last To Let You Down!
User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 3, posted (5 years 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 4437 times:



Quoting DocLightning (Reply 1):
Talk to your doctor. Explain. Ask for some sleeping pills, just enough to get you through the flight.

I was actually hoping to avoid medication. The only thing that I have that may work for this purpose is Rivotril, which contains Clonazepam. It's something the doctor prescribed me when I had my panic attacks when my father almost died because of an Embolism. From what it says, it's actually against seizures but I got it as something to help me overcome the anxiety that I developed. Even though I got a second prescription, I rarely use it nowadays plus I have some concerns about customs complaining about me taking it along (which will be discussed with my doctor when I have my appointment in December, along with settleling any potential problems with Customs on my treatment).

In any case, I want to avoid more medication. I'm already under treatment for vasodepressor response related vasovagal episodes and therefore I'm taking medication (Procoralan 7.5 as prescribed by my doctor) to control my heartbeat to avoid them. Combined with the occasional Clonazepam that I may use, I just want to avoid more medication and have the possibility of overcoming this myself. I will talk to my doctor on this matter though.


User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7252 posts, RR: 6
Reply 4, posted (5 years 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 4428 times:



Quoting LTU932 (Reply 3):
concerns about customs complaining about me taking it along (which will be discussed with my doctor when I have my appointment in December, along with settleling any potential problems with Customs on my treatment).

This really should be no concern, just put it in your carry on it most likely wont get searched to begin with. As long as it is your perscribe bottle with the name you should be fine.

As for the nervousness I would suggest maybe getting an aisle seat for the fear of flights, and really just try to relax. Watch some movies, read a book try to get some sleep if you do those three things the flight will be over as soon as you know it. You already know flying is extremely safe so no reason to give you all the stats. Just enjoy the flight like you used to. There is nothing to be worried about.

If you keep seeing this as more of an issue the advice I give everyone to overcome their fear is take some flying lessons. Once you fly in a Cessna 172 for a few hours flying on a 747 will be easy.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineDba4u From Germany, joined Mar 2005, 668 posts, RR: 14
Reply 5, posted (5 years 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 4428 times:

Well, fear of height does not necessarily mean that you'll feel bad on a plane.
I've got the same problem, been in therapy for quiet a while when I was younger and still can't step on a ladder (Or these look-through metal stairs, ouah!). However I never ever had any problems when flying.
Be sure to check with the doctor though as everybody 's different.


BTW, are you just visiting, or moving back to Hamburg?


User currently onlineTheSonntag From Germany, joined Jun 2005, 3691 posts, RR: 29
Reply 6, posted (5 years 1 week 7 hours ago) and read 4418 times:

Well, when I flew transatlantic I was nervous myself, thinking about flying over water and so on.

Here is what worked for me: First of all, I am sometimes nervous at Takeoff, and that rapidly gets better. So, after some time it got better, and then I got some food at the airplane and it was perfect.

What works is "splitting the flight into smaller flights". All the time during Trans Atlantic crossing, the airplanes are max. 2 hours and some minutes away from any runway (actually it is even closer because this is only for the case of an Etops engine failure, when the plane is slower, with all working engines it is shorter).

So all the time think, that you are only 2 hours (= Germany - Mallorca) away from the next runway. So the flight is not so bad  Smile

The only bad thing about long flights are bad movies on the IFE  Wink


User currently offlineA342 From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 4690 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (5 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 4365 times:



Quoting LTU932 (Thread starter):
I'm still not afraid of flying but in recent years, I've developed a fear of heights, which is making me nervous about flying

How about getting a middle seat? That way, you will be far from a window and you won't see the Atlantic ocean 30,000+ feet below you. I have no clue if it helps, just a thought.



Exceptions confirm the rule.
User currently offlineFLY2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (5 years 1 week 2 hours ago) and read 4357 times:

Just confront your fears. Simple as that.

User currently offlineABQ747 From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 852 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (5 years 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 4321 times:



Quoting FLY2HMO (Reply 8):
Just confront your fears. Simple as that.

 checkmark  I took a trip to Australia earlier this year, and I was getting so nervous right before the trip, that I was getting physically ill. I was seriously considering cancelling the trip, and not going. I finally forced myself to go, and I'm glad I did. I had the time of my life down in Australia, and I can't wait to go back.



The reason New Mexico is so windy is because Texas sucks and Arizona blows.
User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4903 posts, RR: 16
Reply 10, posted (5 years 1 week ago) and read 4307 times:

LTU932,

I've been there but the good news is you cannot only overcome it but enjoy life and flying again.

First, you need to address the panic attacks before it evolves into Agoraphobia. You should see a specialist when you are back in Hamburg. Benzodiazapines such as what you are taking is not the answer - you need to get on an anti-depressant for a while. You will also need some cognitive behavior therapy along the way.

As for the nervousness of flying, you know deep in your mind that it is perfectly safe. Both the panic attacks and the fear of flying are caused by a programming malfunction - the limbic, irrational part of your brain takes over. So as you sit in your seat (Window is better), try to detach yourself and see these two sides of your brain try and take control. You need to help the rational part of your brain win the fearful part.

Some tips:

1. Write on a piece of paper "This is an irrational fear" and keep in on you during the flight to remind yourself.

2. Distraction is good, and long distance flights help lull you into a comfortable frame of mind. So pop up your laptop, walk around, chat and so on. Make friends with the plane!

3. Look at the FAs, children, and grandmas on the flight. If they feel safe, so should you.

You may not win the battle of the brains on this flight, but it's time to start pushing back against fear. It's a paper dragon, and that's all it is. Your primeval brain, where terror resides, got unleashed when you were faced with your father's condition. You will win, and be stronger for the experience.


All the best, and don't hesitate to PM me.


User currently offlineAverageUser From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (5 years 1 week ago) and read 4286 times:



Quoting Comorin (Reply 10):
Benzodiazapines such as what you are taking is not the answer - you need to get on an anti-depressant for a while

In mild cases of anxiety attacks benzodiazepines are the perfect treatment, they work fast and can be taken "on demand". I'd take the pills along (the Customs have no right to say anything about your prescribed treatment) and take them as and if needed. The mere beforahand knowledge of a fast "cure" may be enough to prevent an attack to take place. After all, a slender metal tube high above the ocean IS a very unnatural place for a human ape to be in.


User currently offlineVarigB707 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (5 years 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 4267 times:

You may wanna talk to you doctor. If those feeling have developed recently. A good therapy may help you.

User currently offlineLTU932 From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 13864 posts, RR: 50
Reply 13, posted (5 years 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 4234 times:



Quoting A342 (Reply 7):
How about getting a middle seat?

Actually I HATE aisle or middle seats. I need to get a window seat, so I can have the occasional view outside. I always hate not having a window as it makes me feel way too confined (though I'm by no means claustrophobic).

Quoting Comorin (Reply 10):
Distraction is good, and long distance flights help lull you into a comfortable frame of mind. So pop up your laptop, walk around, chat and so on.

KL doesn't have WIFI nor powerplugs for laptops on their MD-11s, so using the laptop is out of the question (and even if I could use my laptop, for the games I have, the battery would simply not last long), but they do have AVOD. Walking around is also a must for me because after the embolism my father suffered, which came from being confined to his bed for very long after he broke his hip and despite heavy use of anticoagulants to prevent blood clots, I do intend to stretch my legs to prevent DVT.


User currently offlineComorin From United States of America, joined May 2005, 4903 posts, RR: 16
Reply 14, posted (5 years 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 4192 times:



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 11):
n mild cases of anxiety attacks benzodiazepines are the perfect treatment, they work fast and can be taken "on demand"



Quoting AverageUser (Reply 11):
The mere beforahand knowledge of a fast "cure" may be enough to prevent an attack to take place.

 yes  I agree fully. I just don't think they are very useful as a longer-run therapeutic tool.


User currently offlineYyz717 From Canada, joined Sep 2001, 16335 posts, RR: 56
Reply 15, posted (5 years 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 4130 times:

Go on flightaware.com and view the sheer volume of TA flights -- it will remind you how routine it is. When you get to the airport in PTY and see the airline employees routinely doing their jobs (another day at the office) and the FA's routinely welcoming passengers (their job is flying TA) -- it will further remind you of the sheer boring routine that is TA flying these days. This should alleviate your fear.

You're biggest danger, statistically speaking, is actually the drive to the airport.



Panam, TWA, Ansett, Eastern.......AC next? Might be good for Canada.
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