A national survey conducted by online travel insurer InsureandGo.ie reveals that if you’re from Munster you’re least likely to be pro-active in dealing with your fear of flying than your other provincial counterparts. While only 20% of people from Connacht who suffer from the phobia say there’s nothing they can do to help themselves, a massive 49% from Munster insisted they would be nervous regardless of what they would do.
If you are from Munster, you are three times less likely than your Leinster counterparts to take a couple of drinks ‘to calm the nerves’. However, while only 6% of Munster respondents admitted to taking a sleeping tablet to ensure they were asleep for the whole flight, their Connacht cousins (15%) were more than twice as likely to ‘pop a pill’.
The survey also reveals that although women are nearly twice as likely as men to suffer from a fear of flying, the old stereotype of men not asking for help still exists, even for phobias. While 40% of women who suffer from fear of flying say they do take action – or sleeping tablets – to distract themselves while flying, only one in ten men have a plan to conquer the anxiety. Over half the men surveyed feel there is nothing they can do to overcome their fear of air travel.
Marco Magliocco, General Manager of InsureandGo.ie, said - “The survey reveals some interesting differences among the sexes, and also shows the way people in different parts of Ireland deal with their fears of flying. While people from Leinster are more likely to find temporary escape in a book or some music, if you’re from Connacht you’re three times more likely to find respite in a sleeping tablet. Those from Munster are more likely to just grit their teeth and get through it without any distractions.”
According to hypnotherapist and fear of flying expert, Pearse Culkin: “The natural inclination is to tell people to relax, but when you’re up to 90 in trepidation about getting on that plane, relaxing is easier said than done. How your travelling companions react can also have a bearing. When you’re shivering in your shoes with fear and anxiety, the last thing you need is someone telling you to pull yourself together. The ‘flying phobia’ itself is most often just a symptom. Be open to discussing your fear with a recommended hypnotherapist. This phobia responds very well to a few guided sessions in hypnosis to discover and uproot the underlying cause.”
Here’s a couple of pointers to help you cope with your fear and make your flight as easy as possible:
Arm yourself in advance with as much detail as possible about the sequence of events concerning the flight. What are the things to expect at security check-in? How long will you need to get to the Boarding Gate? How will you spend your time at the gate when you get there? Learn as much as you can about the safety announcements and any ‘dings and dongs’ you will hear over the public announcement speakers. Recognise the sounds as the landing gear locks into position. In short, know what to expect so that nothing surprises you.
Rehearsal. With all this knowledge to hand, go through a rehearsal several times before flight-day arrives. Relax yourself as much as possible and see yourself actually go through every detail of your day from the moment you leave home until you disembark at your destination. Pay particular attention to that big smile on your face as you disembark! Do this a few times until it’s almost second nature to you.
Prepare well for the day of the flight. Make sure to eliminate as many possible stress factors as possible. Have your packing done in plenty of time. No last minute rush. Have all your paperwork in order - passport, boarding card, etc. Allow plenty of time to get to the airport. Worrying about missing the check-in/boarding time is no help at all.
Don’t spend time at the bar. If you do have excess time at the airport, it’s best not spent at the bar. Browse the bookstore. Have that shoe-shine that you’ve always promised yourself. Clear out your emails. Keep yourself occupied.
Breath. As you wait at the boarding gate, be attentive to your breathing. Good deep breaths right down to the belly-button, held for a count of five, with gentle exhaling as you imagine a wave of relaxation rippling down from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
On the flight. As you approach the plane to board, replay your rehearsal mentally. Continue that rehearsal after you take your seat, as you taxi out to the take-off runway, and as you actually take off. Have an interesting book or magazine to read. If you have a travelling companion, try to look after them a bit - it diverts your attention away from yourself.
Remember that statistically you’re in much more danger on the roads than you’re ever likely to be in the air. Having made it from home to the airport, the most dangerous part of the journey is already behind you.
So, the next time you’re getting ready to take a flight, don’t let your fear beat you and don’t rush to the bar! Follow some of the tips above and you’ll be sure to have a pleasant flight. And don’t forget to take out your travel insurance with InsureandGo.ie!