What Are Fearful Flyers Really Afraid Of?

by David Lanzas

If you experience anxiety when you get on a plane, understanding why will help you better manage and overcome them. So here are five of the most common fears behind what you’re feeling:

Fear of Losing Control

Being on a plane and helpless to do anything if something were to go wrong can be nerve-wracking for some. This is why some people can overcome their fear when they have the opportunity to see the pilots flying the plane in the cockpit and see that it is something they master perfectly.It’s also important to remember that pilots are highly trained to handle emergency situations and that planes are equipped with advanced safety protocols.

Fear of Turbulence

Although a spot of bumpy weather now and again turbulence is completely normal and rarely dangerous, it can be very stressful for those with fear of flying. It’s important to remember that airplanes are designed to withstand turbulence and that bumps in the road are as natural to pilots as should be to you.

Fear of Accidents

Understandably one of the most common – and after all, who isn’t concerned about possible air disasters? Of course, seeing the results of such accidents on the television news is shocking and upsetting – especially for fearful flyers – but incidents of this type are extremely rare indeed, especially in this day and age. Aviation is one of the world’s safest modest of transport, and statistics show much lower accident rates than, for example, travelling by road – which of course most people do far more often.

Fear of Heights

Travelling in an enclosed space – and many thousands of metres up in the air – can generate claustrophobia and anxiety for aerophobes. Here again, it’s crucial to remember that all comercial aircraft are designed to maintain the proper cabin pressure and temperatura to keep passengers and crew comfortable and safe.

Fear of the Unknown

For some people, simple ignorance of how aircraft fly, as well as their various processes and safety systems, can also be a source of anxiety. So it’s super helpful to read up on this subject (which this blog has covered extensively over the years – see three examples below) to help fearful flyers feel more at ease whilst flying.


In closing, I’d add that working to understand your fears in this way can be very helpful, but it isn’t always enough. So if you suffer from crippling aerophobia that keeps you from flying as much as you might like – or at all – you should definitely consult a psychologist who will help you overcome these fears.

So have a good flight!


Founder of the Instituto Lanzas, David Lanzas is a psychologist specialising in anxiety and trauma.


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