Fear of Flying

People often ask what is the difference between a fear of flying and a phobia of flying. Perhaps the easiest way to understand the difference is that with a fear of flying, a person will find the experience of flying extremely unpleasant, often everything about the process is uncomfortable. With a phobia of flying on the other hand, a person simply will not fly! The anxiety that a phobia is so great that the idea of flying is simply not worth it; they avoid flying at all costs.

Hypnosis is a proven treatment for fears; flying being one! A variety of different techniques may be used, from methods such as EMDR, as pioneered by Francine Shaperio, through to Hypnosis and Suggestion.

No matter what method your therapist adopts, you can rest assured that you do not need to live with your fears. Right Track therapy can help you to overcome any fear you may have.

Fear of flying may be a distinct phobia in itself, or it may be an indirect combination of one or more other phobias related to flying, such as claustrophobia (a fear of enclosed spaces) or acrophobia (a fear of heights). It may have other causes as well, such as agoraphobia (especially the type that has to do with having a panic attack in a place they can’t escape from). It is a symptom rather than a disease, and different causes may bring it about in different individuals.

The fear receives more attention than most other phobias because air travel is often difficult for people to avoid—especially in professional contexts—and because the fear is widespread, affecting a significant minority of the population. A fear of flying may prevent a person from going on vacations or visiting family and friends, and it can cripple the career of a businessperson by preventing them from travelling on work-related business.


A fear of flying is a level of anxiety so great that it prevents a person from travelling by air, or causes great distress to a person when he or she is compelled to travel by air. The most extreme manifestations can include panic attacks or vomiting at the mere sight or mention of an aircraft or air travel.


The fear of flying may be created by various other phobias and fears:[1]fear of crashing which most likely results in death, which is the most common reason for the fear of flying.


A previous traumatizing experience with air travel or somehow connected to flying can also trigger a fear of flying. For example, the experience of flying to a meeting only to be told that one has been fired might be traumatic enough to subsequently create an association between any air travel and bad or unpleasant events.

Some suggest that the media are a major factor behind fear of flying, and claim that the media sensationalize airline crashes (and the high casualty rate per incident), in comparison to the perceived scant attention given to the massive number of isolated automobile crashes. As the total number of flights in the world rises, the absolute number of crashes rises as well, even though the overall safety of air travel continues to improve. Statistics on various forms of travel show that airplanes are safer than other common forms of transport per kilometer traveled. If only the crashes are reported by the media (with no reference to the number of flights that do not end in a crash), the overall (and incorrect) impression created may be that air travel is becoming increasingly dangerous, which is untrue. In a way, the media coverage is forcing confirmation bias on viewers.

Misunderstandings of the principles of aviation can fuel an unjustified fear of flying. For example, many people incorrectly believe that the engines of a jet airliner support it in the air, and from this false premise they also incorrectly reason that a failure of the engines will cause the aircraft to plummet to earth. In reality, all fixed-wing aircraft glide naturally, and the engines serve only to maintain altitude during the flight. A big cause of fear of flying is that it is difficult to imagine how planes stay in the air, thus a person’s understanding of the science behind flying can affect the person’s fear about flying.

  1. ^“Fear of Flying Media Kit” (Press release). Captain S. L. Chance. 2006. http://fearofflyinghelp.com/MediaKit.shtml. Retrieved 2007-04-29.