Fear of Turbulence? You’re Not Alone!

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I read an article in the Wall Street Journal written by a scholar with a fear of flying.  While the author mentioned her fear was mainly at takeoff, many comments talked about the fear of turbulence.

For some folks, hearing a pilot announce “we may encounter some bumps” is enough to grab onto the armrests for dear life.  Team member Keith shared with me that despite taking 30+ flights per year, it’s still difficult to overcome the unease that’s caused by bumping around in the sky.

But pilots will tell you that that turbulence is nothing more than a nuisance.  And passengers should know that planes are designed with safety as the top priority.

Fear Of Flying Turbulence
Fear of Turbulence Is Enough to Keep Some Folks From Flying! But There Are Ways to Overcome Your Worries

I’ll share some tips for folks looking to overcome the fear of turbulence!

5 Tips to Overcome Fear of Turbulence

You’ve likely heard it before, but flying is statistically the safest way to travel.  There are more than 100,000 flights per day around the world that take-off and land without incident.

While we do hear stories about severe turbulence, those impacted are typically passengers not wearing seat belts.  The below video shows frazzled passengers and a big mess on a recent American Airlines flight that hit severe turbulence.  That’s why it’s so important to buckle up when you’re in your seat.

Here are other ways to help calm your nerves when you hit bumps in the sky.

1.   Learn the Causes of Turbulence

There are different types of turbulence.  You might expect bumps when flying around bad weather.  But it’s also possible to experience turbulence on a clear sunny day.

According to AviationKnowledge, there are 4 types of turbulence:

  • Thermal – due to warm air rising and cold air sinking
  • Mechanical – caused by interference of objects on the ground, such as mountains, tall buildings, and trees
  • Shear –  when the direction or speed of wind changes quickly
  • Wake – caused by an aircraft, similar to a boat creating waves behind it

So if you check your in-flight map and see you’re crossing over the Rocky Mountains, don’t fear the possible mechanical turbulence.  This is very common and you’ll fly past it quickly.

2.   Take a Fear of Flying Course

There are lots of online courses that can help folks overcome the fear of flying and turbulence.

One popular program is SOAR, which was created by a former airline captain and a licensed therapist.  The course addresses more than just turbulence.

There are free resources available on the site.  But you’ll have to pay if you want to take a full course.

3.   Choose a Seat in the Middle to Front of the Plane

The location of your seat on the plane can make a slight difference in how you feel when turbulence hits.

Fear Of Flying Turbulence
Sitting in the Middle of the Airplane Near the Exit Rows Can Make You Feel More Comfortable When Turbulence Hits

If you don’t like bumps, a seat in the back of the plane is not the best idea.  Because the tail of the plane moves up and down more noticeably to adjust the plane’s altitude.  Instead, try to sit in the middle or toward the front.

4.   Check Pilot Reports of Turbulence

I mentioned team member Keith has a fear of turbulence.  Before a flight, he checks pilot reports of turbulence to prepare himself for possible bumps.

Fear Of Flying Turbulence
Checking Pilot Reports of Turbulence Can Help You Prepare for Possible Bumps Before Your Take-Off

There’s no guarantee that you’ll hit turbulence in the same spots on the map.  But it might make you comfortable to know that other planes traveled through the turbulence before you.

5.   Distract Yourself With In-Flight Entertainment

Having your mind focus on something other than turbulence can help a lot!

For example, with Southwest’s in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi you can bring your own device to watch live television and movies or browse the web.

Reading a book is also a great way to pass the time on a flight.  You might even fall asleep and wake up at your destination, which will help you miss all of the turbulence!

Bottom Line

Fear of turbulence is something that affects even the most frequent fliers.

While turbulence is uncomfortable, experts and pilots say it’s not something you should worry about.  Because airplanes are designed to sustain even the most severe turbulence!

To help overcome worries about turbulence, you might consider taking a fear of flying course.  I also suggest selecting a seat in the middle to front of the plane.  And plan ahead before the flight to bring something to distract yourself, like a tablet or book.

Do you have any tips for helping with fear of turbulence?

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