Speak up, the pilots and flight attendants are there to help!
Over the years, I’ve come across so many wonderful people who happen to struggle with anxiety when it comes to flying. These individuals come from all walks of life, and despite the fact that the vast majority happen to be strong, intelligent, confident, and capable people, they still have difficulty with the experience of flying. And they are not alone.
Through my conversations with these anxious flyers, I’ve learned an interesting irony: While most are quite comfortable opening up to me and explaining their concerns (once they learn that I’m a pilot), very few people ever take advantage of the opportunity to speak up or mention their aversion to flying to the flight crews when they are traveling This is incredibly unfortunate. While I admire their strength and perseverance for trying to overpower their fear and put forth a confident face, they are unintentionally bypassing or overlooking some great resources and potential help. The pilots and flight attendants can make a difference! Most are more than happy to talk with you and will be more inclined to pass along relevant information if they know about you and your anxiety.
…very few people ever take advantage of the opportunity to speak up or mention their aversion to flying to the flight crews when they are traveling.
Now, I’m not implying that you need to stand up in the cabin and shout out that you have a fear of flying. Just take a moment to approach and speak with a pilot or flight attendant and mention that you get nervous when you fly. All too often, many people are reluctant to speak up and engage a crew member. Some people get the impression that the pilots and flight attendants are too busy and they don’t want to inconvenience them. Others think that if they mention their anxiety or fear, that the crew members will view them in a negative light because they seemingly appear vulnerable or not strong. Neither could be further from the truth. All of this falls in line with social stigmas associated with asking for help. It’s kind of like us proud, stubborn men that won’t pull over to ask for directions when we’re lost. Why prolong an undesirable set of circumstances if you don’t have to? Don’t suffer in silence. Take advantage of the resources on your flight and speak with a crew member.
The vast majority of those pilots and flight attendants are more than happy to take some time to help you. Airline crews are people too! And they actually interact with anxious flyers a lot more often than you think. I’ve had many people ask to poke their head in the cockpit to chat with me during the boarding process. Like me, most pilots are very happy to speak with you and address any concerns or questions that you might have. If I know I’ve got an anxious flyer on my flight, I’m much more inclined to provide extra details to the passengers and give more announcements regarding weather or turbulence. I want you to feel better when riding on my plane, but I can’t help if you don’t mention it.
…most pilots are very happy to speak with you and address any concerns or questions that you might have.
Ultimately, riding on an airplane should not feel akin to watching a golf tournament or tennis match, where any kind of talking is strictly forbidden. You don’t have to sit there in silence, alone with your fears, watching everything play out in front of you. Speak up! Take a moment to introduce yourself to a pilot or flight attendant and share your concerns. You may be surprised at what a positive difference they can make in your flying experience. We are there to help, all you have to do is ask!