Fear of flying

Many factors can be associated with this condition, all of which need careful consideration and help.  While factors associated with a fear of flying can be psychological in nature, travellers can also experience further pre-travel stress due to poor pre-travel preparation.

Plan Ahead

Good planning is essential to overcoming travel fears. Many in-flight medical emergencies can be attributed to the stress that builds up at the airport, before the traveller gets on the plane. Make sure you have visited your family doctor or nurse for general health advice. Sort out any required vaccinations and discuss malaria prevention well in advance of your trip. If you are at risk of DVT, discuss prevention with your doctor or nurse.

Know where you are going

Think about your day of flying before it happens — pre-book seats and order any special meals you might require, including any children’s meals. If you have any disabilities, contact the airline in advance of your trip to discuss special requirements, such as wheelchairs or assistance on and off the plane.

If you have never travelled to your airport before, allow plenty of time to get there. If you are unfamiliar with the airport layout, or are a first time traveller, try a practice run prior to your day of travel.

Allow plenty of Time

Arrive in plenty of time for your flight and always allow for delays when you travel. Carry a book in your hand luggage and have letters to write while you wait. If you feel anxious, take a portable CD or cassette with calming music to listen to while you are waiting. Never find yourself stranded at the airport with nothing to do, and try to avoid the bar while you wait!

Fear is Common

Understand that travel fears are common. Try to avoid excessive alcohol or drugs as a way of helping you to cope. Alcohol will not get rid of fears and often exacerbates them; it will also leave you dehydrated.

If you have to travel a long distance by air, try to avoid connecting flights. A little extra money spent on a direct flight is worth the expense, if it means no added anxiety about possible delays or missed connections.

At the end of the day, if you are suffering from any form of psychological illness or depression, it is important that you talk it over with your doctor and consider postponing your trip until you feel better.

Further Information

Virgin Atlantic’s Fear of Flying website also features a number of courses and videos


Note: This information is designed to complement and not replace the relationship that exists with your existing family doctor or travel health professional.  Please discuss your travel health requirements with your regular family doctor or practice nurse.