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How to Get Back on Board After a High Profile Plane Crash

How to Get Back on Board After a High Profile Plane Crash
Ali Wunderman

“Statistically speaking, planes are the safest form of transportation,” insist people without flight anxiety as if 1) those of us who are scared to fly are unaware of this fact, and 2) it will have any impact on quelling our fear. Being strapped into a metal tube without any control over what happens to it is scary, despite safety records.

But there’s a special spike in anxiety following a high profile commercial airline crash, even for those anxious fliers who do find security in safety records. Even if 1 in 11 million planes crash annually, with 95% of those involved surviving the ordeal, it represents the absolute worst case scenario that everyone insists could never happen. Statistically speaking, of course.

Fear of flying should not be a reason to quit unless you’re ready to #vanlife it up or take container ships across the sea. While those are valid adventures in their own right, for the majority of people, travel necessitates stepping on a plane, and that means working through the surge of fear that comes with news of a major crash.

Knowledge is power, so we spoke with anxious fliers to learn how they find their bravery to get back in the sky after a plane goes down.

Know Your Airlines

“I avoid the same airline and same plane type,” advises Monica W. The recent series of crashes of Boeing’s 737-MAX 8 caused even the most seasoned travelers to check the kinds of planes they’d be flying on upcoming trips, sometimes canceling when it was the MAX 8. “I definitely checked to avoid the 737 MAX 8 before they were grounded,” said Lisa C. Intentionally picking a different plane to travel on can give the flier some sense of control.

The same goes for studying safety records as they pertain to particular airlines, which can be a more effective means of researching the likelihood of danger. Skytrax is a reliable resource for evaluating airline track records and can give you hard data on past incidents. Of course, failures lead to changes in the industry, so a good rating isn’t anything close to a promise, but it can again provide the sense of control that calms anxiety.


Many anxious fliers insist upon medicating with Xanax, lorazepam, or even wine, but this is what they consume to fly regardless of newsworthy crashes. Doctors are the only people qualified to make these recommendations, so they won’t be included here.

Therapy, however, is a spectacular tool for addressing changing levels of anxiety as the result of a particular trauma. Following a bad car crash, Victoria B. was tired of using Xanax as a bandaid and sought a more permanent solution instead. Researching and receiving hypnotherapy helped her become more relaxed around all forms on travel, and she is able to fly again. Justin N. also ditched meds in favor of therapy and found that over time he was able to move on from his flight anxiety, instead of just masking it.

Avoid Additional Travel Stress

Getting consumed by the thought of a crash is incredibly stressful, which can be exacerbated by typical airport behavior. “I make sure to give myself plenty of time to get to the airport so I’m not adding that form of stress on top of it,” said Simone M. Allowing yourself ample time to make it through all the obstacles between the check-in desk and boarding the plane alleviates any extra anxiety so you can focus on tackling the main stressor.


[Image Source: Shutterstock]

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1 Comment

  1. Sydneyberlin

    May 23, 2019 at 7:55 pm

    Flying more. That’s what got me over the anxiety about flying. If it all is just a routine, it becomes much easier to just relax. A nice alcoholic beverage or two also doesn’t harm but that’s my general attitude pretty much anytime and anywhere 😉

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