How Travelling at Different Times of the Year Affects Fear of Flying

02/01/2024

Wintertime brings its challenges, both physical and psychological. So today we´ll take a look at a couple of factors that may not have occurred to you when it comes to fear of flying, and offer strategies to address them.

Trickier Weather

Weather conditions play a crucial role not just in getting aircraft from point A to point B but also in terms of passenger emotions and psychology. Winter´s greater prevalence of storms, strong winds, and resulting turbulence can come across as a threat to fearful fearful flyers. Although today´s aircraft are perfectly designed to take all of that into account – and aviation in fact remains the safest of all the world´s travel modes – the reality is that uncertainty and lack of control over these conditions inevitably contribute to heightened anxiety, but in the runup to flying and during the flights themselves.

If this applies to you, here are three pieces of advice:

  • Get more pre-flight information: Learning about weather conditions and the forecast can help reduce uncertainty about what to expect.
  • Practice relaxation techniques: Practices such as mindful deep breathing can be beneficial in reducing anxiety during challenging situations, such as a bout of turbulence.
  • Fly at more favorable times of year: spring or summer – and to some extent the autumn – offer better weather conditions, thus reducing both the likelihood of turbulence and anxiety that goes along with it.

Impacts on Mood

It´s scientifically proven that sunlight affects the production of neurotransmitters associated with emotional well-being, such as serotonin and melatonin, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is definitely an issue for many. Many refer to it as the “winter blues” because it´s most common in winter, when the days are shorter and sunlight reaching the earth less intense.

So the combination of common concerns related to flying and decreased exposure to sunlight may contribute to a more intense experience of aerophobia.

What then can be done to mitigate this seasonal impact?

Try light therapy: First-thing-in-the-morning exposure to blue light (with light boxes in various sizes including compact commonly available), especially during months with less sunlight, can help stabilise mood and reduce sensitivity to fear of flying.

Plan daytime flights: This, too, can maximize exposure to natural light, contributing to a more positive mood.

 

In short, knowing how seasonal changes affect people who fear flying can help them manage this fear more effectively. And remember, whatever the season, flying is among the safest forms of transportation there is.

Happy – and fearless – flying!