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Do you have a Fear of flying?

If you are afraid of flying - you are not alone. According to the studies, most people, even men, are afraid of flying. For them, the fact that they will be flying soon gives them anxiety and stress. As a nervous flyer, I can relate. And, if you'll think that that is unusual for someone who flies thousands of miles a year, you are right. Even businessmen million milers have told me that they really do not like to fly because they have a fear of flying. A close boss told me that most executives in his company confided to him that they'd rather drive, instead of fly.

I was on a flight from Seattle to Minneapolis one day when I encountered a man who really shows his fear. He was so quiet and reserved, wouldn't talk to anyone. Everyone on the airplane was having fun - it was a festive atmosphere because it was New Year's Eve.We were on an international flight over the Pacific. Later, he wrote on a piece of paper that he was really afraid of flying, but he did not want any of his friends to know that. I laughed. I know how it is. As an airline employee who had to fly from one city to another, or fly with adventurous co-workers,  I feel that sometimes my traveling companions just have too much fun flying. They didn't seem to mind the occasional bumps, and ups-and-downs of the aircraft. Well, actually, if you are a normal person (not like me :-), those little annoyances shouldn't really bother you. At first I pretended that I am "cool" - that I am not a nervous flyer. But then, I was thinking, he must be really nervous because of this light turbulence, so I wrote on a napkin, that I "understand" because we were on the same level. We both have a fear of flying.

Flying is the Safest and Fastest Way to Travel

Now, I know for a fact that flying IS the safest way to travel from one place to another. And fastest. Yet, in my mind - and the mind of those nervous flyers, that is not the point. As my roommate always says "I'd prefer driving. I like my feet on the ground, not on the floor of an aluminum flying object". I remember the first time I invited him to fly with me. He invited a close friend to fly with us. I think he didn't trust to be just with me. So, that was the first time. The second time, he did it again. He invited another friend to fly with us again. Inside the plane, I noticed that he was so critical the way the pilots fly the plane. He even stated that the pilots "do not know how to pressurize the plane". I wanted to laugh but  I know what he was feeling so I tried to reassure him that, yes, the pilots know what they are doing. He was miserable throughout the flight because he was seated at the non-reclining seat at the very back. He is 6'6" feet tall, and the only way he could be comfortable is if he puts his legs outside. That last seat just did not have any legroom at all. Unfortunately, the plane was so full, and no one even asked him to trade seats. 

I admire people who are so relaxed when they fly. One time, I had to go to Seattle for an interview. I was booked to come back the next day. That day was such a bad weather day, rain, thunderstorm, winds were in the forecast. The flight going to Seattle was OK - there were light turbulence along the way - nothng to worry about. However, the flight back encountered some serious 65 miles wind gusts. Everybody's quiet when the captain informed us of the wind gusts. Well, we didn't have to be informed for we felt it! The plane was swaying left to right when we were descending. There was an unaccompanied minor (he said he is a frequent flyer and I believe it!), was so relaxed playing with his hand-held game. I was watching the descent, watching when we crossed the Minnesota River, and I could feel the rocking. I think in my years of flying, that was the scariest that I ever experience during landing. Well, after a few minutes of suspense, I felt the wheels touch the runway. The pilots did a good job - again! What a relief!

Have you been in a turbulent flight?

Well, I have been in turbulent flights, but the two most significant I can remember are 1) the flight decades ago from Seattle to Minneapolis; and 2)  When we were on initial descent in Narita Airport, Japan. I came back from my first visit to my homeland, the Philippines. Throughout the flight from Seattle, Washington (SEA), to Minneapolis (MSP), was very bumpy. It was a 3-1/2 hours flight, and I was waiting for a time that the turbulence would dissipate. It did not. At some point, the overhead bins opened, and lots of luggage fell on the passengers. Everybody's quiet. I didn't even hear anything from the cockpit. The only thing the crew did was remind passengers that the seatbelt light is illuminated, and that passengers should fasten their seat belts. Well, with the situation that was so obvious, passengers were really glued on to their seats.  A young guy sitting next to  me smiled at me and I started a conversation about the turbulence. He nodded but didn't say anything else. Then, I am sure he  noticed that I was nervous, he told me that it is OK if I hold his arm. That was so nice because I was about to ask him. He said that usually that flight was not that turbulent (he takes that flight several times a month), and he could not understand why it was at that time. The landing was good, and after everyone was relieved that we landed safely, the gentleman told me that I am lucky that I was getting off in Minneapolis. He lives in Indianapolis, and he will be on the same aircraft on the way to Indianapolis.  

The second most turbulent flight I've been was when we were landing at Tokyo's Narita Airport in Japan, many years ago.   The flight attendants were ready to serve us breakfast before we land. Everything was smooth. The flight from Minneapolis to Tokyo was super smooth (usually it is not). Anyway, I was chatting with one of the passengers seated next to me. He is a doctor who works in one of the islands near Russia. To get there, he had to fly into Narita airport and take another flight. Everybody had their table ready for the serving of breakfast. Then, all of a sudden, without notice, the plane dropped! It was like someone had the whole plane in his/her hand and decided to just drop it from the hands. The cups, glasses, salt, pepper were thrown out of my tray. And, as suddenly as it started, it stopped. Everyone was like in a state of disbelief, like, we asked ourselves "what in the h_ _ _ _ is that?". Then we heard the captain on the P.A. System telling us what happened, and instruction all the flight attendants to sit down until the plane has safely landed. The crew just said that the weather caused the sudden airplane drop.

Tell us your story. Have you been in a very turbulent flight? We want to hear from you. Please share with us your story. Are you a nervous flyer? How do you overcome your fear of flying?

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