What Does It Mean To Be Afraid Of Flying?

Fear of flying is a mental disorder that people experience when they fly. For some individuals, this disorder can cause them to feel extreme anxiety and panic.

Although most people can feel nervous and anxious while flying, some individuals avoid flying altogether. This disorder, which is known as aerophobia, can cause people to experience panic attacks and other intense symptoms of anxiety.

Aerophobia is a type of anxiety that involves air travel. While it’s not as dangerous as other forms of transportation, flying still remains a common fear for people with this disorder.

According to a study, around 5% to 40% of Americans experience flying-related anxiety. The high end of the spectrum is when it comes to recognizing the seriousness of the condition.

Only a small portion of people with this disorder actually meet the requirements to be considered a phobia. Having this condition can have negative effects on their quality of life.

Aerophobia’s Causes

Aerophobia is not a specific illness, as it usually comes from a combination of factors. For instance, people with a genetic fear of heights might be influenced by their parents. Also, exposure to media about plane crashes can make people more prone to experiencing fear.

Although it’s not clear exactly what causes people to have a fear of flying, various factors can play a role. One study revealed that the fear varies greatly from person to person.

For people with this fear, the longer people avoid flying, the more they may experience it. This condition is also linked to other phobias such as fear of heights and vomiting.

Some of these elements could include:

  • Having been on a traumatic flight or plane crash: Even watching prolonged news coverage of airline mishaps might cause a phobia of flying. Following the September 11 attacks, many people, for example, had at least a minor dread of flying.
  • Environment: If your parents also had a fear of flying, you may have internalized their trepidation. This is a typical cause of aerophobia in youngsters, but it also affects many adults. You might pick up a fear of flying from a family member or friend, but phobias appear to be most strongly influenced by parents.
  • Other relevant circumstances include: Your aerophobia could possibly be the result of a different struggle. Concerns about the job or its impact on your everyday life, for example, could induce a fear of flying that develops soon after a job advancement that involves travel. Aerophobia develops in youngsters who must fly regularly to see divorced parents as a coping mechanism for the shock of the divorce.

According to a study, factors such as turbulence and bad weather can trigger anxiety levels greater than those caused by other factors.

Aerophobia’s Physical Symptoms

When people with aerophobia think about flying or travel by plane, they experience constant and extreme fear. Aerophobia, often known as aviophobia, has symptoms that are comparable to those of other particular phobias. Physical manifestations of a fear of flying include:

  • Chills
  • choking feelings
  • muddled thinking
  • Disorientation
  • Skin that has been washed
  • Gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Heart rate has increased.
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Shaking
  • Breathing problems
  • Sweating

A panic attack is an intense fear attack that can cause people to feel disconnected from reality. It can also trigger various symptoms such as palpitations and anxiety.

Although people with a fear of flying are generally comfortable at the airport, they can still experience symptoms just before they board the plane.

Related Conditions

If you have other phobias or anxiety disorders, your fear of flying may be caused or exacerbated. Here are a few examples:

  • Claustrophobia: Due to the restricted confines and lack of personal space, people with claustrophobia typically have a dread of flying.
  • Fear of heights: A general aversion to heights (acrophobia) can lead to aversion to flying.
  • Social anxiety disorder or a fear of germs: People who suffer from social anxiety disorder or a fear of germs frequently acquire a dread of flying since they will be compelled to spend long periods of time with strangers.

Treating these conditions can help alleviate the symptoms of aerophobia. Usually, these treatments are the same as those used for other phobias.

A fear of flying can be caused by a variety of physical conditions, including:

  • Blockage in the sinuses or middle ear, which can cause pain or disorientation during flying.
  • When you have a cold, chronic sinus difficulties, or illnesses like vertigo or ear disorders, you may be afraid of becoming physically uncomfortable.
  • Cardiovascular illness or other disorders that enhance your risk of blood clots, such as diabetes, can raise worries about deep vein thrombosis developing during a trip.

Prior to your flight, discuss any physical issues you may have with your doctor to build a plan of action to reduce risk and pain.

Treatment Alternatives

A person suffering from Aerophobia can usually be treated with medication or therapy. Exposure therapy is a type of treatment that aims to help individuals become more aware of their environment and the sensations of flying.

In addition, cognitive behavioral therapy can help individuals test their irrational thoughts about flying. If you or someone you know is suffering from Aerophobic anxiety, talk to a mental health professional.

Even if you don’t know what’s causing your fear of flying, it’s a treatable problem. The following are some of the most common treatments:


The most common treatment for phobias, particularly the fear of flying, is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a technique that focuses on altering the negative beliefs that lead to scared behavior. CBT is employed in many phobia treatments, however other therapy techniques are occasionally used as well. The following are some of the most commonly utilized approaches:

  • Controlled exposure, whether through virtual reality, a flight simulator, or really flying, is the best method to overcome a phobia of flying, according to experts.
  • Systematic desensitization is a technique for treating phobias like the fear of flying that entails gradually increasing exposure to a fear object or environment.
  • Individual therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), hypnosis, and virtual reality, can help you overcome your fear of flying. An internet-based exposure program was found to be useful in the treatment of flying fear in one trial.

Group Classes

If you are not currently experiencing other psychological disorders, then a fear of flying course may be a good option for you. These classes usually last for two or three days and are offered by airlines. They can help people feel more at ease by giving them a chance to meet the pilots and talk about safety.

Doing so can also help you overcome your fear of flying. Having a good understanding of the various safety procedures and the science behind flying can help you feel more calm. Videos about turbulence can also help you overcome your fears.


Sometimes, medications can be used to help alleviate the anxiety or nausea that people experience when they fly. For instance, a doctor may suggest taking a medication that can help lower motion sickness.

Getting honest with yourself about your aerophobia is the first step in treating it. It’s important to acknowledge that it is present, as it can make people feel embarrassed to talk about it. Having people who have overcome their fears can be very helpful.

While drugs can be beneficial, they are usually only a temporary fix. They can be combined with psychotherapy to achieve the best results.

Set Travel Goals

It can be hard to overcome aerophobia, especially if it affects your life in a negative way. To do so, set goals for yourself and think of a place or person that you would like to visit in the future. Then, if you decide to work with a professional, schedule a target date.

You can also create a list of places that you would like to visit in the future by reading travel articles or books.


There are things you may do on your own to assist cope with your fear of flying, in addition to seeking therapy for your phobia.

  • Learn as much as you can about the flight process. Understanding how airplanes work, why turbulence occurs, and what different sounds and bumps imply can make flying less frightening.
  • Recognize unreasonable beliefs. Your fear of flying may be exacerbated by negative and apocalyptic thoughts. Learn to detect negative thoughts when they arise and practice replacing them with more realistic and beneficial ones.
  • Recognize your triggers. Pay attention to the ideas or situations that preceded your fear of flying or when you experience anxiety during a flight. If you start to realize that certain aspects of flying make you feel anxious, you’ll be more prepared to deal with those situations when they come.
  • Relaxation techniques should be practiced. Building a “relaxation toolkit,” or a repertory of relaxation tactics that you can employ when you start to feel afraid, can be beneficial. With the things that make you anxious, use strategies like deep breathing, visualization, and progressive muscle relaxation. These approaches may help you overcome your fear of flying over time.

Ask For Help

There is no need to work on aerophobia by yourself. There are programs that are designed to help people overcome their fears of flying. Having the support of others helps people feel more at ease and makes them more motivated to reach their goals.

Getting help for aerophobia is not something that you should be ashamed of. There are individuals who can help you manage your anxiety and live a more fulfilling life.

If you or someone you care about has anxiety or is suffering from aerophobia, PsyCom strongly encourages you to seek professional help. There are a variety of resources on our site that can help you get the support and diagnosis that you need.


If you’re experiencing a fear of flying, then it’s important that you seek professional help. A mental health professional can help you identify the cause of your anxiety and develop a treatment plan.

The fear of flying can have a significant impact on your quality of life. Getting the proper treatment can help you overcome this anxiety.

Most people with aerophobia can benefit from psychotherapy, which can help them manage their anxiety. A study found that some participants saw their symptoms improve for up to three years after treatment.

Aerophobia is a fear of flying. It can make it hard for people with aerophobia to travel for work or pleasure. Talk to your healthcare provider about exploring other treatment options.

James Newman

James Newman is an air travel fanatic. From the fear of flying, TSA regulations, and saving money on flights & airlines, James has extensive knowledge when it comes to air travel. He hopes to make your air travel experience a better one with his blog flyingcomfortably.com.

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