Good news! I'm moving to China soon!
Bad news... I'm sort of afraid of flying. Like, just kind of moderately afraid... it's never stopped me from buying a plane ticket and getting on a plane, but seriously, all through the flight I'm trying not to think we're about to just fall out of the sky.
Good news! I have flown a lot. I've been to China twice, so, ya know, that's 4 13-hour flights right there, plus whatever silly places we needed to stop for layovers. Seriously, coming back from my first trip to China, I took 5 flights in like 48 hours and by the end I was like, okay let's just take off and land already, I am SO OVER this "fear of flying" thing.
All right. So. Here are Perfect Number's 6 tips on dealing with fear of flying:
- Statistics. Okay so in the United States, 28000 commercial planes take off and land every day and ALL OF THEM ARE FINE. (Couldn't find a super-legit-looking webpage that said this, so here are 3 mediocre ones which agree. And tsa.gov says 1.8 million passengers pass through US airports every day.) Seriously. ALL OF THEM ARE FINE. Like, we've heard news stories of plane crashes, but just think about all the days you DON'T hear stories of plane crashes. Yep. Each of those days, 1.8 million people are FINE.
- The pilot. The pilot has probably flown this exact route hundreds of times. Also, the pilot and whoever else is up front have a whole bunch of safety things to keep an eye on. They're not just going to accidentally not pay attention and the plane falls out of the sky. Remember, they are also interested in not dying in a plane crash.
- Engineering! A lot of people spent a lot of time building the plane and thinking of everything that could go wrong and how to put backups in place. This isn't like hopping in a barrel to go over Niagara Falls. This is decades of engineering, mandatory inspections, redundant systems. (And I think the more I learn about the technology behind passenger planes, the more obvious it will be that they are not just going to fall out of the sky.)
- Don't read the "emergency information card in your seat back pocket." Don't pay attention to the safety talk from the flight attendants. If you've flown before and you've already heard it, then there's no point to focusing your attention on worst-case scenarios. You already know the spiel. Use your seat cushion as a floatie. The nearest exit might be behind you. Put your own oxygen mask on first. You should generally know the information, but beyond that, DO NOT let your mind imagine horrible emergency situations and how much you are going to die. (Although, every now and then a plane has a problem but IT'S STILL FINE. Like this one, which had to do a belly-landing because its landing gear wasn't working. And EVERYONE WAS FINE. A little bumpy, but IT'S FINE. The pilots and flight attendants are trained for this kind of stuff.) Seriously, if it's going to make you panic, tune out during the safety talk.
- When there's turbulence or the plane seems to be tilting WAAAAYYY too much, look over at the flight attendants. Look how much they don't care. Seriously. They're just walking around acting like everything's normal. They've probably experienced a bunch of turbulence a million times and they know it's nothing to worry about.
- Just relax and think happy thoughts. Read a book. Try to forget the fact that you're flying through the air at hundreds of miles an hour, shoved in a metal tube with a bunch of strangers. I mean, if you're gonna die in a plane crash, it's not like there's anything you can do to stop it. Might as well just forget about the plane and read a book. OH ACTUALLY, wow Perfect Number, let's try to spin this in a more positive way. Ahem. During the flight, you might want to marvel at the amazingness of modern technology, allowing us to travel all the way around the world in a matter of hours. Oh isn't that wonderful! Think of the cultural exchange that takes place, think of all the awesome things made possible by air travel. And oh my goodness, you can be part of it! You can experience this fantastic phenomenon for yourself! They sell tickets!
One more thing: Seriously, check out flightradar24.com for a real-time map of planes currently in the air. There are TONS. And ALL OF THEM ARE FINE.
Also, I'd like to point out that several of these tips are very meaningful for me because I'm a math and engineering person. I wonder if other people are as moved as I am by the statistics and the engineering things. So please tell me in the comments: Are you afraid of flying? How do you deal with it?