Flight Anxiety: 20 Coping Mechanisms

Flight Anxiety

As an avid traveler, most people would assume that I love to fly on airplanes. That is far from the truth. If I had the option to fly or be transported telepathically, I would choose the latter.


What can cause flight anxiety?

For many people, flying can be a freighting experience and can cause anxiety. This can be caused due to several reasons such as a) afraid of the plane crashing b) 9/11 tragedy c) pre-existing anxiety d) fear of not being in control e) previous bad flight experience such as turbulence.

Having anxiety before a flight is normal. Do you experience anxiety before flying? If you answered Yes, this article will provide ways on how to cope with flying anxiety.


Arrive Early


I’ve been known to miss a flight for arriving late. Avoid making the same mistake. Arrive 2 hrs early for a domestic flight and 3 hrs for an international flight. Once you check-in, pass the security check and arrive at your gate you will feel a sense of relieve. Being early will allow you to eat, use the bathroom and shop if necessary.

Alcoholic Beverages

Wine glasses

I personally don’t drink alcohol but I know many people that do.  My friends tell me that drinking alcohol on a flight gives them the courage to fly, calms there nerves and makes it easier to sleep. Drink responsibly and do not combine with medication. Also, try not to consume caffeine, as it may make you jittery.

Buddy System

Pilots flying airplane

Some people may not want to talk but you never know until you make the first move. Get to know your seatmate and spark a conversation.  I’ve had some of the most interesting conversations on the airplane. If you are single, you may even get lucky and make a love connection.  Talking will make the time pass quickly and will help you focus on a person rather than the actual flight itself.

 Create a Music Playlist

Head phones

Music is a great way to distract yourself. A great selection of tunes can alter your mood for the better.  If you want to be calm choose Jazz music, or download your favorite Gospel tunes. Feeling hype; create a ratchet Hip Hop playlist. Want something more mellow choose RnB hits or Neo-Soul.

I use Pandora but there are several downloading streams such as Spotify. It is to be noted that some airplanes have a good selection of inflight entertainment while others do not.  Don’t forget your noise-canceling headphones.


Shopping Bags

I wouldn’t normally advise people to run errands before traveling but this technique works for me. Being exhausted before a flight, allows me to fall asleep quickly and remain sleep depending on the length of the flight.

Essential Oils

Lavender Oil

Purchase or make your own essential oils. Essential oils such as peppermint and lavender are known to have calming and healing properties. You can place a small amount on various parts of your body: wrist, temple, neck, the crown of your head or behind your eyes.

Flight Crew

Flight Attendant

Get to know both the pilot and flight crew attendants. If you ask the pilot, they may allow you to see the cockpit and inform you more about the aircraft. Greet the flight attendants and let them know about your anxiety. I’m positive that they will check on you throughout the duration of the flight. If you want to be extra nice,  bring a bag of treats filled with chocolates, hand sanitizer, and a personal handwritten card to show your appreciation to the flight staff.

Flight Itinerary

World Globe

My friend Johanna Gonzalez creates a flight itinerary before her flight. For example, if she has a 3-hour flight, she schedules 15 mins for reading, 15 mins for music, 2 hours for a  movie,  and repeats until the airplane has landed.


Oranges, strawberries, berries and flowers

Eat before your flight. Grab food before coming to the airport as the airport food is more expensive. Although it is expensive the airport has some great restaurants and a variety of options. If you have a travel credit card that grants you lounge access, utilize the food provided.  Pack your own snacks (energy bar, beef jerky, fruit, crackers etc)


Inhaler: Just Breathe

If you are known to have shortness of breath, carry your inhaler provided by your doctor. The inhaler will provide additional oxygen and can help focus on controlling your breathing.

Mechanics of Airplane

Knowing what type of plane and how the mechanics of the plane works may help to calm your nerves. For example, if you are flying a Boeing 545 (I made that up) You can research how many times it has successfully flown, the year it was created, any new updates etc.


Meditation Mindfulness

Meditate before or during take-off or throughout the flight if necessary. I highly recommend the Calm app. This app has calming music such as sounds of the rain and will guide you through deep breathing exercises.


Bronze Prayer Hands

Although some people may not be religious or spiritual, prayer is essential to my well-being. Prior to my flights, I attend church and have a preacher pray for a safe flight. I also say a quick prayer prior to taking off and may need to say an additional prayer if there is turbulence LOL  🙂

 Prescription/ Over the Counter Medication

Prescription Pills

Some people may already have a pre-existing condition and flying may heighten anxiety. If you feel like you need a prescription, talk to your doctor about providing Xanax. You can also purchase Benadryl over the counter.  Benadryl may help you both fall asleep and feel calm.

Read a Book


Prior to my vacation, I go to the library and rent a book. I’m old fashion and still like the feel of pages turning in my hand. If you want to save space and love technology, bring your tablet and download several e-books. Reading is a great way to pass time and distract yourself as it allows you to enter another world.

Safety Information

Trust written in sand

Make sure you are paying attention to safety information, provided by flight attendants. In the case of an emergency, you want to be prepared and educated on what to do. Trust the flight industry, they have been flying for years and have to adhere to safety guidelines. Keep in mind that statistics report that it is actually safer to fly in an airplane than to drive a car.

Seating Arrangements

Seats on Airplanes

Do you prefer to sit near the window, middle or aisle seat? I actually prefer the window seat because I can see out the airplane window and I use it as a pillow when I’m sleeping. Some people prefer the aisle because they may need to go to the bathroom frequently. Which seat do you prefer? Also decide do you want to sit in the front, middle or rear of the plane.  Sitting in the front of the plane your less likely to feel lots of turbulence.


Couches, end table, and lamp

Prior to your next scheduled flight, talk to your therapist to discuss the source of your anxiety. The therapist will provide tips and techniques on how to deal with flight anxiety. Some therapist has been known to use Cognitive Behavior Therapy approach which helps the client change patterns of thinking in order to change the way they feel.


Pencil writing happy thoughts

It is very  important that we think positively. Replace all negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Instead of saying,” I’m afraid to fly”. State, “We will have a great flight and will land safely at our destination”.

Watch a Movie

Netflix Images on computer

Download your favorite Netflix episodes or use the inflight entertainment provided. I personally love the movies they provide because they are usually new releases that I have not been able to see at the movie theatre or series that I have been too busy to watch at home.

Anxiety Kit

Anxiety Flying Kit:

Bring the following items on your next flight:

  • Noice canceling Earphones- This will block out anything from crying babies, loud chatterboxes, people snoring and allow for a peaceful sleep.
  • Wipes: The plane is known to have lots of germs. Don’t forget to wipe down seats, headrest, tray tables, seatbelts, armrest and window panes
  • Pen-if you are flying always carry a pen to fill out custom forms
  • Activities- such as a journal to write about your thoughts or create a poem
  • Adult Coloring books- are known to have a calming effect
  • Medications if necessary
  • Phone Charger-Some planes have USB charging ports or outlets
  • Stress Ball- Allows you to squeeze the ball to relieve stress
  • Essential oils
  • Snacks
  • Face mask

If you are a visual person and want to hear me talk! Check out my YouTube video.


If you are on Pinterest: Feel Free to PIN the following Images

Coping with anxiety



    Thanks for the shout out at the end ❤️
    My favvvvv parts:
    -The flight itinerary
    -The anxiety Kit!

    This is amazing tiff! Can’t wait to see what else you come out with ❤️
    And thank you again, I’ll have your blog post handy during my flight lol

  2. I have had to use many of these personally because I often have anxiety when traveling. Playing games was a great distraction for me on my last flight.

  3. I like that essential oils are on this list. I always tell people just go to sleep on the plane if you sleep for most of it you won’t think about it.

  4. These are some great coping mechanisms! I always attempt to arrive early, because I’m a last minute, over packer, and I hate being anxious and in a rush to make a flight!

  5. I never loved flying, but I didn’t always have anxiety. In 2011 I blacked out mid flight while I was 6 months pregnant. I’ve had flight anxiety since that day. I must fly with a full stomach. I must have water and peppermint oil to calm my nerves.

  6. These are great tips. I personally don’t have a problem with flying, but, I’ll definitely share with those who do. Thanks for sharing!

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