I don’t like flying. I am scared of it. I know the odds which state that there is more of a chance of me being injured in the cab on the way to the airport. The statistics comfort me but they haven’t allowed me to get over my fear.
The problem is that our company is located in Santa Monica, and I am from Philly. I make 3 or 4 trips back home each year to see family, friends, and the Phillies. So, to me, flying across the country is a necessary evil.
I once sat next to a USAir pilot on a flight. He was travelling from Philly to LA for a flight he was piloting. We spoke at length about my issue which he quickly summarized as a phobia of flying which is fairly common. Having the pilot next to me was obviously therapeutic as he explained to me the reasons why we were experiencing turbulence and he also demonstrated why the plane was turning so oddly on its decent into Los Angeles. I really enjoyed having him next to me but I’m not likely to sit next to a pilot ever again.
I am a much better flier today than I was years back. Experience has helped. In addition, I feel that if I do things to improve my odds of having a successful flight – it helps to put my mind at ease.
Below are 7 ways to increase your chances of surviving a flight. If you have a phobia of flying, perhaps these ideas can help to minimize your fear.
1) Never have a layover
I understand that layovers are sometimes a necessity and that they can also decrease the price of travel. However, a layover probably doubles your chances of not surviving a flight. Flying is the safest way to travel, but if there is any dangerous part – it would be takeoff and landing. And by having a layover, you are essentially doubling your takeoff and landings, thus doubling your chances of being involved with a unsuccessful flight.
2) Minimize flights out of and into bad weather
Weather problems can affect flights, mainly when the weather problems are in the city you are taking off from or landing into. So, if you have a flexible schedule, and you see a forecast that predicts bad weather during the time you’ll be taking off or landing; move your flight back or up a day. Doing this also decreases your chance of having delays, which are always nerve wrecking for people with a fear of flying.
3) Sit in an exit row
Often, the exit rows in a plane are empty. Once the doors to the plane close, if you ask a flight attendant if you can move into the exit row – they will likely say yes. You can tell them that you would be happy to help in the event of an evacuation, which will only make the flight attendant more likely to move you into the exit row. It is important to be in or near an exit row, as you’ll be able to more quickly get off of the plane in the event of a crash, thus limiting your chances of being effected by fire or smoke inhalation.
4) Pay attention to the pre flight briefings
I know it is boring to listen to all of those pre-flight instructions that every flight has. But, it can’t hurt to listen to them, and they do include information which could be very useful in the event of a crash. So, make a point to pay attention to those pesky instructions, remember, they only take a few minutes.
5) Fly on newer planes
Many airlines have a newer fleet of planes. To me, I feel safer in a newer car than I do in an older car, and I feel the same way about planes. When I fly on United from Philly to LA – sometimes I am on the older planes which are painted grey, and other times I am on the newer planes which are painted white. The newer planes have much more comfortable seats and feel a lot cleaner and safer. I know what types of planes are the newer ones – so moving forward, when I book a flight on United, I am going to speak to an experienced ticketing agent to try and ensure that I fly on one of the newer planes.
6) Minimize Commuter Flights
Commuter flights, also called regional flights or shuttles, are often flown via prop planes as opposed to jets. Many people believe that these flights can be more dangerous than larger aircrafts. Regardless of whether they are or aren’t more dangerous, a lot of times commuter flights are so short that you could opt to take the route by train. For instance, when I was younger, I flew with my parents from Philadelphia to Puerto Rico, but the flight called for us to take a prop plane from Philly to Newark as Newark was where the charter flight was flying out of. However, I complained to my parents because we could have simply taken a train to Newark and then flown directly to Puerto Rico. In fact, on the way home, I remember purposely delaying my parents in the Newark airport so that we missed the 40 minute shuttle flight to Philly and we had to find an alternative way to get home.
7) Wear your seat belt when seated
A clear way to improve your chances of a safe flight comes from the good old fashioned seat belt. Turbulence can be very bumpy on flights and it sometimes can come so quickly that the pilot doesn’t have time to notify the passengers to fasten their seat belts. If you aren’t wearing your seat belt during bad turbulence, you increase your odds of being injured. So, make a point to wear your seat belt throughout the duration of the flight when you are seated.
There is a lot of talk about high speed railroads being developed throughout the US. However, there isn’t a plan for a cross country railroad and even if there was – development would probably take well over 15 years. So, flying is my only option right now.
I know that planes are built to takeoff, fly, and land; and that they have backup systems in place to better ensure this. However, since I really have no control over how successful the flight is – I came up with these 7 guidelines to increase my chances further.
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