Anxiety when flying

anxiety when flying

Experiencing anxiety when flying is a common fear/phobia that I help treat. But interestingly the reason behind the anxiety isn’t always what you expect. Around 1 in 6 people have anxiety when flying but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are afraid of the plane crashing!

Those 1 in 6 people fall into one or both the following groups

  • Scared of a plane crash
  • Worried about a trigger being activated

When you ask anyone how they would feel if they were to be in a plane crash the answer will be universal. The idea of being in a plane crash is horrific but it is not always the main reason people are afraid to fly. There are many factors that can contribute to a fear of flying and I have listed some of them below.

  • Social Anxiety – Airports are extremely busy and we are in close proximity of people when on a plane.
  • Claustrophobia – Being enclosed in a tight space that you are unable to get out from.
  • Using public toilets – This can be either from a hygiene perspective or worried there may be a queue.
  • Afraid of losing control. If someone has had a panic attack on a plane they may be worried of having another (very common!)
  • Afraid of doing something embarrassing – crying/shouting, trying to get off the plane if they get scared.
  • Afraid of crashing
  • Separation anxiety – It can be too far a distance to be apart from someone if you fly somewhere
  • Not in control – the pilot is!

It’s not always obvious!

If you hear that someone has anxiety when flying and it’s not due to the plane crashing, and you say ‘It’s the safest form of transport’. You can now see why this makes no difference to them. It has nothing to do with what they are worried about. That is not the trigger they are trying to avoid. So any amount of statistics on how safe planes are fall on death ears.

A lot of the above you could argue could be the same on any form of transport, so why is it just flying? Flying is probably the most restrictive form of transport. You can’t move around like you can on a bus or train and the time between stops is likely to be longer on a plane than a bus. With other forms of transport you can halt your journey fairly easily.

For some people they don’t even know it’s one of the above list that is an issue. They just know that they are not getting on a plane. This is where a skilled therapist needs to come in. They need to dig into what the cause of the issue is and resolve that.  

But what about those that are scared of crashing?

Well we know what their trigger is so we can work directly with it. This can be two fold either via BWRT work that can resolve fears like this in just one or two sessions. Or by educating the user on why they have the fear if it’s due to lack of knowledge.

For example, I helped a lady once whose fear was someone would open the door mid-flight. She would spend the whole flight worried every time someone got up (usually only to use the toilet). The reality is that it is not possible to open a door on a plane mid-flight due to the air pressure in the cabin. For this client, understanding this was enough to relax her but for many others they have this question to combat everything you say…….

What if?

But for those that are scared of crashing they will just use the ‘what if’ statement. It doesn’t matter what stat you draw up or how many safety features the plane has, what if?

The sufferer of anxiety only likes odd that’s are stacked 100%. The only time this applies to flying is when you have safely landed and disembarked. So unless the issue is not being educated about a certain aspect they are likely to response ‘what if’.

If the plane has 4 engines and one fails, it can still fly. But what if another ones fails. That’s ok they can fly on 2 engines. But what if a third fails. That is highly unlikely but they can fly on one. What if the last engine fails? Then they can glide for 30 mins to an airport. What if there isn’t an airport within 30mins……and so on.

The problem talking to someone who replies with ‘What if’ is that you can’t ever convince them otherwise. It’s a pointless argument and one that gets zero results.

Fear or Phobia?

We know that BWRT is a very effective resolution to anxiety when flying and so to can hypnotherapy be with a big but though. I personally would only assist with a fear of flying using hypnotherapy if I am sure that the underlying issue is a fear and not a phobia. You can tell the difference between a fear and phobia by asking the below questions.

‘How much money would I have to pay you to fly’

If the answer is an amount of some sort you are likely to be dealing with a fear. The amount you need to be paid will give a slight clue on how bad the fear is. If you answered no amount of money would get me on that plane we are likely to be dealing with a phobia.


Hypnotherapy and Suggestion therapy can give very varied results and has been seen to not last and see recidivism. I read a story of someone with a plane phobia who successfully flew out but then couldn’t fly back as it had worn off.

BWRT – excellent results usually in one or two sessions depending on original trigger.

Hypnoanalysis – a longer therapy to undertake and it really needs to be a phobia and not a strong fear to be effective.

Contact me here to overcome your fear of flying today.

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