Fear of flying? Here are eight steps you can take

Going on holiday is one of the highlights of the year for many of us, but if soaring to 30,000 ft is a thought that fills you with apprehension, you’re not alone.

The charity Anxiety UK estimates that around 10% of the UK population suffers from aviophobia, or a fear of flying. The good news is that if this applies to you, there are steps you can take to lessen the impact it has on your travels – from the moment you book your trip, to arriving at the airport, boarding the aircraft and the time you spend in the air. Here, we share our top eight tips to help get you on your way with minimal stress.

Of course, if you think you may have an undiagnosed phobia of flying, you should seek professional advice from your GP or a qualified therapist prior to travelling.

Book a direct flight wherever possible

If you can fly direct to your destination, rather than needing to make a transfer, you’ll reduce the amount of time you spend in the air. You’ll also only have to go through one take-off and one landing, which are often the parts of the experience that cause the most anxiety for nervous travellers.

Manchester Airport offers direct flights to more than 200 destinations – more than any other airport in the UK outside London – and many routes are served by more than one airline, which means you can shop around to get a good deal and find a flight that suits your needs.

Book a seat with extra legroom

Feeling boxed-in can add to a sense of anxiety, so it’s worth paying a little extra to select seats that will give you a little more room. You’re likely to find that an aisle seat on an emergency exit row, around the middle of the plane, gives you the most space to stretch out.

Plan your trip to the airport

If you make a clear plan for getting to the airport, and allow lots of time for your journey, you’ll feel more in control, which will help ensure you’re not getting onto the plane in an anxious frame of mind. Most airlines recommend you arrive at least two hours before your departure time for a short-haul flight, or three hours beforehand for a long-haul flight. If you’re travelling to the airport on public transport, keep an eye out for service updates before you set off, and make sure you have a Plan B in case of any delays or cancellations.

Take your mind off the flight when you’re at the airport

This may sound easier said than done, but there are lots of places within an airport departure lounge that are designed to help you to do just that.

Executive lounges, which offer an all-inclusive buffet and bar service, can help you unwind and destress ahead of your trip, and are more affordable than you might think – prices for the Escape lounge at Manchester Airport start from only £31.99 per person and you can access the lounge up to three hours before your flight. You can find out more here.

If you’re planning to eat in a bar or restaurant before you fly, there are a number of units within Manchester Airport’s terminals which do not face the airfield, where you can relax and enjoy your meal without the visual prompt of a runway to remind you that you’re about to take a flight.

And if you’re travelling from Terminal Three, the designated quiet zone on the upper mezzanine level of the departure lounge is a great place to retreat to.

Avoid alcohol before and during your flight

It might be tempting to have a drink before you fly in the belief that it will take the edge off your nerves, but in reality, alcohol consumption could actually accentuate the anxiety you’re feeling. Try and clue yourself up on other ways of coping with your anxiety, such as breathing exercises.

Let the cabin crew know about your fear of flying when you board

If you let your cabin crew know that you’re a nervous flyer, they can then support you during the journey by checking in on you periodically and ensuring you’re comfortable, and can also take any questions you might have. Observing how relaxed the crew are in going about their job might help you feel a little calmer, too – they do this every day, after all!

Download some soothing music to listen to during the flight

Soothing music is proven to help calm you down – it slows your heart rate and breathing, making you feel physically more relaxed, which can help bring about a calmer mood, too. Download a suitable playlist that you can listen to on the flight in the event you find yourself feeling anxious.

Take a Fear of Flying course

If all else fails, consider booking yourself onto a Fear of Flying course. easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways all offer a variety of courses from Manchester, many of which include a guided flight experience with a running commentary from the pilot, explaining what you’re experiencing.

You can find out more about these courses by visiting www.manchesterairport.co.uk/help/passenger-guides/fear-of-flying/.