All about aviation (aviophobia, aerophobia)

Fear of aviation, also called aviophobia or aerophobia, is a fear of traveling by airplane. Like so many other phobias, the fear of flying is irrational and can be based on several different things that have to do with flying.

Most of us have some kind of specific phobia or fear. The typical characteristic of a phobia is that the fear is not in proportion to how dangerous what you are afraid of really is. Spider phobia, claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), height fear and snake phobia are some other common phobias.

May lead to missed experiences

If phobia has a major impact on everyday life, you may need to seek care to gain control over it. Often, phobia and its effect on life grows over time if you do nothing about it. Disaster thinking can become more powerful while devising strategies to avoid what you are afraid of.

For example, fear of flying can cause you to miss out on experiences, find it difficult to travel at work or unable to meet family or friends. Unless otherwise, air travel can be a traumatic experience that degrades the quality of holiday travel and other positive aspects of life. Without fear, the flight can instead become part of the holiday relaxation, or at least something you are no longer afraid of.

Causes of flight fear

We are all different and the fear of flying can often be for some special things that have to do with flying.

Knowledge about the actual safety of the aircraft and previous bad experiences with flights are two common causes of aviation.

Aircraft accidents

When you see or read news, you sometimes come in contact with aviation accidents. One can get the impression that it is a common phenomenon, and that it is dangerous to fly. Every day, however, incredible numbers of people travel by air without any problems. These are not mentioned in the media.

The fear of crashes is often linked to the fear that a motor will break or that a wing will fall off. Flights can easily become a prolonged anxiety situation where you listen for aberrant noise in the engines or look at the cabin crew’s facial expressions to find fault. Contrary to what the fear says, flying is one of the most secure ways to travel.

Check-in and security check

Check-ins and security checks can be lengthy and frustrating. If you have fear of flying, you often have a surrounding anxiety. It can be difficult to pack efficiently, and the concentration difficulties can cause, for example, to bring wrong things in the hand luggage and be stopped. Time pressure and congestion can contribute further.

The airport experience can turn into a negative experience that increases the anxiety about the flight.

Aircraft trappedness

Flights are a tight situation and some experience a discomfort of the confinement of the cabin. There is no way to get out and the personal space is limited.

Fear of confinement can be caused by claustrophobia or be part of an overall fear of flying.

Take-off and landing

For some, take-off and landing are by far the worst part of a flight. The aircraft sounds more than usual and you may be subjected to turbulence and unpleasant impressions.

When the plane is at a constant altitude, there is a relatively calm compared to the take-off and landing.


Terrorism and hijacking are a common cause of aviation. Just like air crashes due to engine failure, it is an extremely unusual phenomenon.

Media reports can create another image that contributes to aviation fears.

Pressure and ear pain

Some experience ear discomfort during flights. Those who are sensitive to pressure changes can have severe pain in the ears, especially when the plane rises or falls.

Bad experience with ear problems can lead to or be part of the fear of flying.

Turbulence and air pits

Most of us who fly reasonably regularly have been involved in turbulence and so-called “air pits” that suddenly cause the plane to sink. This is even something that is perceived as uncomfortable for many people who do not suffer from fear of flying. For a person with a fear of air, there may be another trauma that causes air travel to be something associated with great anxiety.

An intimidating flight due to turbulence or bad weather can even be the trigger.

Symptoms of flying fear

Heavy air travel usually leads to typical anxiety symptoms such as:

  • Palpitation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • sweating

The symptoms usually begin some time before the flight. It can lead to sleep difficulties, concentration difficulties and irritation a period before. Often the anxiety grows closer to the flight.
Tips for relieving the fear of flying

Alcohol before flight is common – but it can amplify the fear

It is common for flight attendants to relieve their fear of alcohol before the flight.

In addition to not being a particularly constructive way to deal with the fear, there is also the risk that the alcohol instead gives the feeling of losing control further.

Find a way to distract the brain from the flight

A frightened person often spends a flight looking for aberrant noise from the engine or other aircraft. If possible, it may be helpful to distract yourself with other activities that reduce the sound impressions on the aircraft.

Listening to music, reading a book, playing a game or watching a movie can block some of the impressions and give the flight a more everyday feel.

Soothing agents – a temporary solution

Soothing agents may work, but it is important to know that it can be part of an avoidant behavior. It can relieve the symptoms of phobia.

However, it does not address the underlying causes in the long run.

Learn about flying and airplanes

Phobias and anxiety are often based on irrational disaster thinking. Knowledge can counteract that kind of thought. In fact, flying is one of the safest means of transport available, for example, it is far safer than traveling in car traffic, especially during international holidays.

If you read about aviation safety, you soon learn that many of the causes of accidents you are afraid of are almost non-existent.

Take your time and avoid stress when traveling

The experience at the airport and on the way to the airport can be an aggravating factor if you are stressed. Have good margins and allow any obstacles to take their time without creating stress. Read about the route to the airport.

Try to also sleep and eat properly in connection with the trip to be in the best shape possible.

Treatment of aviation fear

The most effective treatment for aviation fear is KBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). KBT is a treatment method that focuses on the patient learning new, more constructive thought patterns. Disaster thinking and harmful thinking patterns are challenged.

There are many KBT-based courses to cure fear of aviation and the forecasts generally look good if you get involved in your treatment and do your best to challenge the fear.

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