It’s Fearless Friday! I’m starting a series on travel fears in hopes of conquering those fears and encouraging people to travel. One of the most common travel fears people face is a fear of flying. Since the first step to overcoming fears is to understand them, I thought it might be helpful to understand a few things that are happening in-flight.
So, what exactly is turbulence? It’s a disturbance in the air, kind of like a dip in the road or a wave in the ocean. It will not–I repeat, it will NOT–cause the plane to fall out of the sky! Turbulence can be caused by the wind, mountains, a jet stream, or changes in weather. It can be scary to feel like you’re on an airborne roller coaster, but it’s important to remember it’s rarely harmful. There are about 58 reported injuries due to turbulence each year, mostly when people were not wearing a seatbelt. That’s 58 people out of the 3.3 billion people who fly each year! Your odds of no injuries are excellent!
Bottom line: Your biggest concern should be steadying that tiny beverage on your tray table and keeping that seatbelt fastened!
Too many connections to keep up with, not sure where to go, will you have enough time? Do I have to pick up my luggage before my connecting flight? These are all reasons I’ve heard for avoiding connection. But sometimes you just have to connect. Here are some reasons not to worry:
- If you’re not sure, you can always ask. There are dozens of airline and airport employees to ask whether or not you need to pick up your luggage and re-check it. The only reasons you’d need to do that are 1) if you are changing airlines (like from United to Delta), or 2) if you are going from domestic to international (like my first trip abroad when I flew from Nashville to Chicago, then had to pick up my luggage and go back through security for my Chicago to Tokyo leg). I survived it! You will, too!
- Will you have enough time? Absolutely. When you book your flights, the computer or booking agent (who is undoubtedly using a computer) cannot allow you to book a connecting flight within a certain amount of time after your first flight lands. This is built-in cushion just for you! And if your first flight is delayed, sometimes the airline can wait 15 minutes or more so you (and any other connectors) can make that flight. If not, the airline is required to book you on the next available flight. Never fear, you’ll get there!
- Unfamiliar airports. Believe me, it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to an airport, I never really know where to go or how to get there. But you can read signs and ask someone if you’re just not sure. As long as you know your flight number, you know what to look for–what’s the gate for that flight number? When you know that, all you have to do is follow the overhead signs to that gate!
3. Crash Landings
Yes, there have been plane crashes in over 100 years of flight history. Some, but not all, have been fatal. But the fact of the matter is: flying is the safest form of travel. There are more fatalities from car accidents per year than plane crashes. Airplanes are designed to stay in the air using lift that’s naturally created by the high speed of the aircraft as it cuts through the air. Don’t let movies or horror stories that are probably not true make you scared. Actually, “2015 was the safest year in aviation history” according to an article of the same name in The Telegraph on 6 January 2016.
Does any of this information comfort you? Do you have another fear of flying that I didn’t touch on here? Let me know in the comment section below!