4 Tips for Overcoming Your Flight Anxiety

Mallory Brander
March 20, 2022

This past weekend, I traveled to London to visit a friend and have a pre-emptive birthday celebration. The only problem: We chose to fly out during storm Eunice. I opted for a later flight than my roommates so that I could attend my Friday lecture. While they were able to land in London with minimal delays, I knew my flight was different from the beginning. 

As I boarded my EasyJet flight, the flight attendant practically shouted over the intercom, “You all need to hurry if we want to make it!” Needless to say, the flight started off tense. We took off with relatively little turbulence, so I fell into my typical deep airplane sleep. I woke up to what I thought was the plane touching down for landing, but when I began to look around, I realized we were still in our initial descent. That thud that I felt was our plane entering intense turbulence. The plane continued to shake, flight attendants frantically passed out doggy bags, and my fellow passengers whispered prayers and let out small yells. 

Two terrifying failed attempts at landing into Heathrow Airport later, we transcended above the clouds to a relative “safety” once again. I was elated to hear that we would be redirecting to Newcastle…at first. I, knowing zilch about UK geography, assumed it would be a quick train ride and boom! I’d be in London. Little did I know, all flights and trains were halted by the storm—Newcastle was an eight-hour bus ride away. 

As the storm whistled on, we clunkily landed in Newcastle, let out cheers of joy, and were shuffled onto charter buses. A “short” all-day bus ride with a myriad of characters later, from a Turkish family of eight on their way to visit their relatives, to a Nigerian businessman on a work trip, to a gaggle of adorned dutch rave-ers trying to make it to a festival before 5am, I arrived at my London hostel in one piece.

As the weekend came to a close, my anxiety began to swell all over again. The thought of setting foot on a plane again left my palms sweating and my heart racing. But at the end of the day…I had to get home somehow. 

After seriously considering the alternative of an 8-hour train ride under the North Sea back to Amsterdam, I decided if I didn’t get on a plane now, it would only get that much harder. I had to rip it off like a band-aid. Luckily, I had two amazing friends to hold my hand…or rather, let me white-knuckle-grip their hands for the entire hour and forty five minute fight.

Even though I made it through the short flight home, I knew this was going to change the way I flew from now on, at least for a while. So, I decided to seek out advice from my friends and family who have suffered with flight anxiety. 

Firstly, I spoke to my dad. He hasn’t flown in over 40 years, on account of one truly terrible flight experience. After I chose to go to college over 20 hours away, he took every anti-flight anxiety meditation, therapy session, and pep-talk known to man, so he had a wealth of tips to share. Secondly, I spoke to one of my best friends who was visiting for the weekend and is one of the most well-traveled individuals I know. So here is my short list of tips for overcoming a bad case of flight anxiety. (Clearly this isn't medical advice—just one college girl's experience).

  1. Get on a plane again ASAP. Were I to have switched to a train, getting on another plane would’ve become more and more insurmountably daunting. I was happy to get on a flight so quickly after and have a really simple, solid experience. 


  1. Look around. Whenever your anxiety starts to creep up from a little turbulence, just look around. Get a gauge for how all of the other passengers and even the flight attendants are acting. If no one else is freaking out, you don’t need to either.


  1. Fly with friends. Like, always. Anytime that you can, fly with your friends. Having the distraction and someone to chat with will immediately decrease any travel-related anxiety tenfold. 
  2.  Don’t fly into a named storm. This one really speaks for itself…or so you would think. I’ve done it twice now and personally would not recommend. 


Although I definitely can’t profess to be an expert, these are the tips and tricks that help me get through a flight. Hopefully nobody ever has an experience that leads them to need these tips, but they were infinitely helpful to me so I hope they’re helpful for you. 

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Mallory Brander

<p>Hey everyone! I'm Mallory, a 20 year old originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'm currently a junior at UNC Chapel Hill majoring in Business and minoring in Social and Economic Justice as well as studio art. I'm a people person who loves all things travel so I'm beyond ecstatic to be studying abroad in Amsterdam this spring!</p>

Home University:
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Tulsa, OK
Business Administration
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