Overcoming Fear of Flying – Part 2

In part one I explained it was important to know where your fear of flying comes from. Now that you know what it is that makes you uncomfortable, it’s time to figure out what you do to ‘not feel’ the fear.

Knowledge is power and research is key. After being an intern at KLM for two months I am beginning to understand more about aviation and the safety of it. But I’m not quite convinced yet. Seeing the aircraft pass over the KLM head office gives me a feeling of gratitude I’m ‘safely’ behind my desk instead of up in the air. My rational side remembers: ‘Flying is safer than getting into a car’, but my fear is stronger.

Time to nip it in the bud.


Bend your little ways

Some anxious flyers look up air crash investigation programs the night before a flight, some steer clear of the media altogether. Some avoid anything that has to do with the flight and others look up every single detail, from seat number to aircraft type to weather expectations.

Find your little ways and try to bend them into something positive. For me it helps when I am well prepared and have everything at hand. I print out everything; boarding passes, hotel information, currency exchange details and any other information I might need. This gives me a certain feeling of control. Like I have everything together. I make sure I’m a the airport on time because stressing only adds to my discomfort. And after that.. All I do is try to relax. Which is hard. But not impossible.

The road to success

I would never say this out loud, and I’ll deny it if anyone confronts me, but I’m a pretty stubborn person. In this case for example, I was certain I could ‘do this on my own’. I’m the suck-it-up-and-stop-whining kind of girl and even though I openly recognize my fear of flying, I’m also openly telling it to go fly a kite. I have no business being scared, and I’m determined to get rid of this thing once and for all. But some things you just can’t do on your own, as hard as it is to admit. Getting help is crucial with these kinds of challenges. I got help, and lots of it. Just probably not in the way you would expect.

Fear of Flying Collage


I didn’t partake in expensive programs, I didn’t have hour-long talks with therapists and I certainly didn’t get prescribed some sort of calming medicine. Instead I decided to ‘take advantage’ of my luxurious position at KLM and explore the company some more. I made appointments at Stichting Valk and the Flight Safety Simulator, got a tour around Schiphol Airport and met a senior purser that was in love with his job. I absorbed all the information I got and felt more and more at ease as I progressed.

The highlight was seeing the Flight Safety Simulator, where trainings are given to fearful flyers and cabin crew are tested on their flight safety procedures. Besides a moment of panic when all the lights suddenly went off in the cabin sim (someone thought it was empty), it was amazing to see and understand every process and procedure. After all that I was feeling something that I hadn’t associated with aviation before: calm.

Fear of Flying part 2

Opening up

Now I know most of you don’t work for KLM and won’t be able to experience everything first hand like I did. But besides these things, it really helped me when I opened up to anyone that asked me about my upcoming flight. I got unexpected stories from people that knew things about aviation I didn’t yet, tips on how to deal with certain situations on board and little facts that calmed my nerves even more. So my advice is, if you’re like me and want to beat this thing on your own; open up! You never know who might inspire you.

That said, I still have to go through with the actual flight. But I’m feeling more prepared than ever. Let’s do this!

In short some tips:

  • Be well prepared before a flight
  • Be on time at the airport
  • Open up to people about your fear
  • Talk to aviation professionals

Fear of Flying timeline 2

Disclaimer: This blog is written from a personal perspective. I am not a health-expert. These are my personal experiences and tips that have worked for me and may be useful to you as well. If you suffer severely from Aviophobia contact an expert for the proper diagnoses and treatment.

Posted by:   Esmee Droog  | 
Join the conversation Show comments

Dawn Walton

Fears and phobias are a pain because they are not rational – you can’t reason your way out of them. When faced with a fear your subconscious hijacks you. It’s something I help a lot of people with, from flying to needles, balloons to driving – I can help. Usually it only takes one session and I can do it on Skype or Facetime. If you want to see if I can help you, just drop me an email. You have my address on this comment :)


Hi Dawn

I have been flying for many years without fear. However, I went through a lot of personal stress at one time (setting up my own business, partner losing his job, lots of money worries, father dying, relationship breakdown and son involved in massive head injury) to name a few. It appears that my wires got cross and during this time, my subconscious seemed to focus on a fear of flying, but I don’t know why. It’s really irritating because I so much want to travel to the US. I’ve done local flights and my anxiety levels are decreasing but it’s the irrationality of the phobia that really annoys me as it won’t listen to reason.

I’d love to get help so I can plan a holiday without my stomach turning beforehand!

Kind regards


Esmee Droog

Hi Dawn! Thank you so much for your lovely message. I might take you up on that offer for part 3 :)!


Well done Esmee! Conquering a fear is not easy even if you know it’s irrational! Now personally I’d much rather fly than participate in roller derby. :-)
I’m already looking forward to reading part 3 in the series.

Esmee Droog

Thank you so much, Jeroen. It sure was a battle getting to this point. Now on to the actual flight! I am typing this with two bruised shoulders, so maybe your idea about flying versus roller derby are worth considering for me as well ;)!

desmond chiang

Honestly, I have no fear in flying. After MH17 got shot down by a ‘strayed’ anti aircraft rocket over Ukraine. This incident shivers me when I need to fly over to Europe from Far East sector airports. Hopefully, more air routes for passengers planes need to be well updated for safety factor sake. We cannot have another air disaster like MH17 flight.

Kathy Klomp

Thank you . I missed part 1 but this was helpful. My husband and I went to Holland last year on KLM and knowing this it would have helped me. He’s talking about going again next year. I could use some more tips.

Esmee Droog

Hi Kathy, thanks for your message! You can find part 1 here: http://klmf.ly/1bM7Rvp. We hope to welcome you on board feeling happy and calm next time you and your husband come visit our little country again. Keep an eye out for part three, as there will be more tips in that one!

sabine bergjes

I never have had a fear for flying, I made many many flight all over the world but after the accident with German Wings and knowing that this can always happen, I am afraid!!!!!
I take no flights anymore, till it is stated by air law that two persons in the cockpit is always set. A member of the crew can take a place.

Capt Tom Bunn, MSW, LCSW

Knowledge is power? Maybe, but not powerful enough to change the automatic, unconscious reaction of the amygdala (the part of the brain that releases stress hormones) when the plane drops.

I just blogged today about this on Psychology Today. See https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/conquer-fear-flying/201506/bas-in-flight-meditation-good-pr-bad-psychology

Esmee Droog

Hello again Tom! Like I said before; there’s many opinions on how to beat fear of flying. This is mine and this is what works for me. Of course you are entitled to your own. Best of luck with your treatments and thank you for your message.

Capt Tom Bunn, MSW, LCSW

Esmee, as the leading authority on flight phobia, it is a bit odd to hear you – a person who knows only your experience – say I am entitled to my own opinion.

Unfortunately, unless your readers can recognize that your experience is extremely limited and that you have no expertise in this area, they may be damaged if they rely on your advice.

As to the many way beat fear of flying, In the last 35 years, I have experimented at length with each and every one of them. If any one of them – or if any of them together – had been adequate, I would not have needed to continue my search for a fully adequate solution until finding it.

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