I am a recovering flying avoider. I used to plan my life around drivable distances and my familiar mix CDs, always appropriately titled by the month or occasion: April Showers, March Madness, God Mix 3… you know the drill.
I’m not sure when my flying anxiety started. Maybe it was post-9/11, or maybe it was just growing in my control issues. Or both.
I was able to avoid flying except when things came up that (gasp!) trumped my fear. Okay… I guess I can handle a flight for a week in Costa Rica visiting my Peace Corps (the “s” is silent, FYI) friend. Okay… I guess I should make an appearance at the Minnesota family reunion.
And then the unthinkable happened: I married a man from Nebraska (translation: 24-hour drive/my dad would never let me do that/not the most effective use of time).
Of course, becoming betrothed to said Nebraskan man required many flights to meet the family and friends. And then eternal (til death due us part) flights to aforementioned plains state.
And then the even more unthinkable happened: we moved to New York without a car (translation: driving is not an option). Needless to say, I have gotten VERY used to flying. I am currently on flight #17 since April. I am what you may call, a flying professional. Okay, maybe not. However, I have developed many coping techniques for flying:
1. Never, ever drink fluids prior to or on a flight. This is important because you’d never want to risk STANDING during a flight, let alone, walking to the back of the plane. You may risk dehydration and stomach issues for a few days, but it’s totally worth the safety of keeping your seatbelt securely fastened 100% of the flight.*
(*I do realize that this point limits lengthy flights, but I have managed to forgo liquids or bathroom use for 6.5 consecutive hours. Proud, not proud.)
2. Always choose a window seat. You will feel much more secure if you can see the ground during turbulence. It’s like when you’re a ballerina and you keep looking at the same point to keep from getting dizzy.
3. If the window seat is taken, sit in the center seat and then awkwardly lean and gaze past the person in the window seat making them super uncomfortable the whole time. This is happening as I type this. Sorry, denim-clad sir, but I’m a ballerina and I need to see my point.
4. Find other distractions.
Oh my gosh, the people in row 16 had a kitten that looked exactly like Peaches. I wonder what she would do on a flight? I wonder what she’s doing right now?
I wonder what those 8-year-old boys in first class do for a living. It must be lucrative.
5. During turbulence, remember that there are pot holes in the sky. This was the best advice I’ve ever received. Just sit back and remember that the great highway in the sky isn’t supposed to be completely smooth. It’s like riding on a crappy road! I feel so much better already.
6. Never notify others of the particular aspects of flying that scare you. Otherwise, that person (translation: husband) might perpetuate the fear during take off by looking anxiously out the window, saying “Eek!! Eek!!! I hope we make it!!”
I hope that these tips will help other flying-averse folks out there. I’m hoping to expand my skill set even more and one day maybe even cross an ocean.
NOTE: I’m hoping to also come up with The Anxious Person’s Guide to the Subway, but I’ve developed very little coping techniques for my daily commute into midtown Manhattan. Stay tuned.