Why are some people afraid of flying whereas others have no problem with it? For me personally, I had a particularly turbulent flight once and quite a few people on the plane were visibly and audibly concerned (including myself and the friend I was sitting next to). However it can be for a whole host of reasons.
Sometimes it is a bi-product of having another anxiety problem, such as claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces), acrophobia (fear of heights), or agoraphobia (fear of panic attacks in public). In these cases it's not flying in particular that is the issue, but more that being in a plane brings up these other problems. These issues would need to be tackled first, and then you might find that flying isn't so bothersome after that. As such it is probably outside the scope (at the moment) for me to talk about these in great length. Generally though, being a bit nervous about flying isn't a problem, but it's when it starts to interfere with your life (e.g. passing up on a job promotion because it would require frequent air travel, or not going to a loved one's wedding due to flying) that you know that you might need to do something about it. Here are some common reasons why people are afraid of flying...
- Lack of control: as passengers, we're not in the cockpit, and have no control over how the flight is going and whether we will arrive safely. As such we have to trust the pilots (who we often don't even see) that they're going to do their job properly, and that the people who build and maintain the planes also did their job. I will talk in more detail about how stringent the criteria are for pilots, mechanics etc to get their jobs, and keep them; as well as the rigorous testing that planes undergo to make sure they are safe for us to fly in. Think about this in the mean time though: why would pilots and flight attendants take jobs they thought they would die from??
- Previous bad experiences or hearing of crashes in the media: Prior to the incident I mentioned earlier, I quite enjoyed flying, but since then I can't forget how I felt during that flight. For others, due to the media not reporting all the flights that land safely (the vast majority), it can make people think plane crashes are the rule rather than the exception. Not to mention the increase in TV shows like "Air Crash Investigations" - seriously, who watches those!? Unfortunately, the best way to get over this issue is what's called exposure therapy: being exposed to the feared object until the fear dissipates (so the more flights the better). Additionally, a greater understanding of just how unlikely it is you will die from flying can help too (honestly, you should be more afraid of driving, slipping in the shower, and being bitten by dogs, along with a whole host of other dangers. Though try NOT to be afraid of all those too haha).
- Lack of understanding of principles of aviation: I am definitely not an expert on this topic, but what I have learnt has been a great comfort in understanding what happens during the flight, and what can be done if things go wrong (as long as I think about these things instead of irrational thoughts!). There can often be misunderstandings as well about how factors such as weather and turbulence impact a flight (usually it's not much at all).
These three areas are the ones I plan to talk about in more detail in upcoming posts. If you're afraid of flying, which of these causes you the most problems? Let me know if you have a particular pressing issue that's not there that you want me to cover and I'll see what I can do.