I love to pack my bags and head off on new adventures. Travelling is one of the things you can invest in that will always give you something back. But while I love to travel, I hate to fly. My flight anxiety makes my inflight experience pretty miserable. There is a part of me that wondered if the only way to kick my fear of flying would be medication or a few cocktails to take the edge off. But an unlikely source came into my life who has helped me become a much less anxious flyer. Ty and I met at an art-show opening and instantly connected over our love of exploring new places. As we continued to chat, he mentioned that he flew for a living as a flight attendant. I thought to myself “How cool”? Instead, I blurted out “I could never be a flight attendant. I hate flying.”
With any jerk, bump, or dip, I think to myself, “Where the heck is my parachute?” As if opening the boarding door (which is impossible during flight) and jumping to safety is an option. As I think about it, that sounds more terrifying than trusting the flight crew to get me to my destination safely. As the night went on, we laughed about some of his inflight stories, and he offered up a few tips that have helped me get through my flights without reaching for my imaginary exit gear.
1. Let the Flight Attendants Be Your Guide
I recently flew from Los Angeles to New Orleans. An hour into our flight, an alarm sounded, and a red light started flashing. My first thought was that we’re having a mechanical issue. Moments after the alarm sounded, a member of the flight crew went running back to the laboratory and prised the door open. Between the noise, the sprinting flight attendant, and the lavatory door being forced open, I have to say, my parachute was looking pretty good. As I felt my anxiety peak, I sent Ty a text. I told him that someone had been smoking in the lavatory, and there was a fire alarm going off. The first thing he asked me was, “How is the crew acting?” I looked around and noticed they were calm but diligent as they worked to silence the alarm. If I am ever in doubt of how a flight is going, Ty taught me the flight attendants should always be my point of reference. If they’re calm, I should be too.
2. Turbulence Is Like a Pothole
The moment I feel a bump in the air, my mind goes into a frenzy. Why are there bumps if there isn’t a cloud in sight? What happens if the turbulence knocks us out of the air at 35,000 feet? Why did the captain turn the seat-belt sign back on? Ty compares turbulence and air pockets to potholes. When you’re driving and hit an unexpected pothole, the experience can cause your car to shake. You may even feel a little unnerved after rolling over it. But, if you have your seat belt on, you’ll likely move past that bump in the road with no problem. Most of the time, pilots can anticipate rough air before we start to feel it. If you keep your seat belt fastened, listen to the flight crew’s instructions, and trust the expertise of your pilots, you’ll be just fine!
3. Focus Less on Fear and More on Your Destination
Hearing about all of the amazing places Ty has experienced is inspirational to me. Instead of being lead by my fear, he’s challenged me to focus my thoughts on the places I want to go. You can’t see the world if you let a fear of flying cripple you. At the beginning of June, I took a last-minute flight to LA for the job interview of a lifetime. Ty and I talked about the potential of the new job, but all I could focus on was how anxious I was going to be on my four-hour flight to Los Angeles. Ty told me to get out of my head and focus my energy on my interview. I did just that! There were a few bumps on my trip, but I let my future lead me, not my fear.