Each Friday, we feature a reader-submitted tip as our Travel Tip of the Day. This week’s tip comes from reader Denise, who says:
“About 20 years ago I developed a major fear of flying that was prompted by a scary situation I had on a flight from FL to NYC. After years of paralyzing fear, serious panic and anxiety attacks, I finally took matters into my own hands by taking the fear of flying ‘SOAR‘ course offered by Captain Tom Bunn. I listened to the audio tapes and went through some telephone and email counseling in order to finally fly again. It wasn’t easy, but I did manage to make it from point A to point B in what I used to refer to as a ‘death tube.’
Many years later, after I had children, I relapsed, fearing that my children would be orphaned if I got on a plane but I went back to basics, listened to my tapes and really committed to doing the most helpful tactic I learned from Captain Bunn: all fearful flyers should speak to the pilot.
I have been doing this religiously for many years. When I board, I tell the flight attendant that I am a very fearful flyer and that it helps me to have a quick discussion with the pilot. I have NEVER been denied in 10 years. I have been talked off the ledge by many of the kind, compassionate pilots on American, JetBlue and Delta. Many pilots tell me that they have a wife and children at home (many even take out their wallets to show me pictures!) and that they would not choose the profession of flying if it was dangerous. They all explain that it’s the safest form of travel. Matter of fact, on a flight I took last month, one pilot asked me if I drove to the airport—when I replied, ‘yes,’ he said, ‘well, then you have already completed the most dangerous part of traveling to your destination.’ I always ask if I should expect any turbulence, and I do find they are honest. Sometimes the answer is yes, but those kind souls make frequent announcements to keep me calm and even send over flight attendants to check on me.
While my friends and family tease me that I am going up to the cockpit to get my ‘wings’ with the five-year-olds, it’s a tried and true tip that I will continue for years to come. I highly encourage all fearful flyers to speak to the pilot before takeoff. Just seeing the face and having a conversation with the person who is responsible for your safety is enormously helpful.”
I used to be afraid to fly, so I can relate. And I can see how speaking to the pilot would be helpful. Thanks, Denise!
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