Time to fly again! Or maybe you’re a first-time flyer? In any case, flying can be quite stressful. But fear not, we’re here to make your flight as smooth as possible!
So, why is flying so stressful? Is it the long wait at the airport and going through security, the noise on the crowded plane, or any unforeseen circumstances? Once you learn the reasons you feel stressed out even thinking about flying and the easy steps for relieving that stress, you’ll probably want to book your next flight already! Now, sit back and enjoy our tips for stress free flying!
Why Is Flying So Stressful? [Starting At the Airport]
Or should I say, starting at home… Getting ready to travel - especially by plane - is a whole process! Lots of people dread packing, for example, even if they’re experienced travellers.
That’s why we’ve gathered some useful tips for the ultimate travel experience. Let’s dive right in!
Taking a limited amount of luggage
Tip: Do some research on your travel destination and plan your days so that you know roughly how many pieces of clothing you’ll need. Don’t forget to check the luggage restrictions beforehand - they can be slightly different for each airline. That way you won’t need to pay extra for oversized luggage.
And check out our detailed guide on what and how to pack when travelling to make your life easier!
Tip: Plan in advance, check the recommended time you should be at the airport and leave the house on time. Don’t leave packing or any other work for the last minute.
Booking a taxi in advance is also a good idea. Have in mind there might be a traffic jam. If you feel you’re going too slow, just remain calm - you’ll make it! And if you are truly late and miss boarding, well… you’ll just catch the next flight, right?
Going through security
Waiting in line, taking your jacket, belt, watch and shoes off, removing any liquids and electronics out of your bag - I get it, it can be stressful.
Tip: If you’re with a friend, chatting while waiting is the best way to make time fly. Otherwise, you can bring something to read, play on your phone, or make a game of observing the other passengers.
As for security - if possible, don’t wear a belt, remove your watch in advance and put everything you need to take out of your carry-on bag in one place and on top, so that it’s as easy as possible for you.
If the metal detector beeps when it’s your turn, don’t worry! No one will think you’re a criminal! Simply stay calm and listen to further instructions from security guards. Additional screening won’t take much of your time.
And also - keep your documents in a secure pocket so that you don’t misplace or lose them.
Getting to your gate
Tip: Navigating the airport is not always easy but there are plenty of signs and you can ask for help. Just plan accordingly and allow for enough time to walk and not run frantically through the duty-free zone.
Sometimes your gate can change close to your departure so listen to announcements and check the screens regularly. You can download the app of the airline you’re flying with - it will display your boarding pass and send you notifications in real time.
Boarding the plane
Everyone has been in the following situation at least once: after waiting patiently to have your boarding pass and passport checked one last time, you can’t wait to finally get on the plane. You make one step and suddenly you’re stuck with the rest of the passengers on the stairs or in the tunnel leading to the plane. And then you have to wait some more, moving forward at an excruciatingly slow pace…
And when you board the plane, it’s not over. You have to find a free overhead bin to store your luggage, preferably right where your seat is, and quickly get in your seat because you’re blocking the way.
Tip: Remain calm and chat with your travel companions or even other passengers if you’re alone.
When you’re on the plane looking for a place to put your bag, be considerate of other people’s possessions too. If you have to leave your luggage far away from your seat, take the things you’ll need during the flight with you - you can do this later when the plane is in the air and the seatbelt sign is off.
Have them ready where it’s easiest to access them.
Another option is to put your luggage under the seat in front of you. Decide for yourself how you’ll feel more comfortable - to have everything with you or to have more leg space. Good. Now you’re ready to take off and probably sleep the whole time. But that’s easier said than done.
Why Is Flying So Stressful? [Stress Levels On the Plane]
A lot of people feel nervous on a plane, and there’s a psychological explanation for that. Being in a metal tube in the sky, sitting so closely next to a stranger, having to share the armrest... everything feels like intrusion in your personal space. Space is limited, especially in economy class and when flying with low-cost airlines, which makes us feel trapped and irritable.
So how to lower your stress levels on the plane?
- Be polite and considerate with your fellow passengers. If you don’t want to talk to your chatty neighbour, simply say so in a friendly manner.
- If you are restless, check out the fun things you can do on a plane that will help you pass time.
- If you want to sleep, better prepare in advance because there are often crying babies, chatty neighbours or just mechanical noise - bring a travel pillow and earplugs, for example. Check out the rest of our tips on how to sleep on a plane.
- Maybe you’re anxious about eating on the plane. After all, it’s not a 5-star restaurant and the choice is limited. If you want to avoid dry or unhealthy food as much as possible, prepare in advance and read our tips on how to eat healthy while travelling.
- Even if you’re not the biggest germaphobe out there, you’re probably averse to touching anything on the plane, especially in the toilet. Wet wipes will become your best friend, helping you feel cleaner immediately.
- If you’re flying with a baby for the first time, it’s no wonder your stress level is out the roof - check out our article on flying with a newborn to get more prepared.
- If you have flight anxiety in general and hate turbulence, just remember it’s normal. In fact, the chance of being in a car accident is way higher than that of a plane crash. You can try meditating and relaxing with some apps or listening to music. If you have a phobia of flying, try seeking professional help.
- And if you’re flying for the first time, no worries! Here is what you need to know before your first flight.
Flying can stress people out so much that there are already viral videos online showing aggressive behaviour on board. However, following these simple tips will help you avoid such situations and scratch air travel off from your list of most stressful things in life for good.
Why Is Flying So Stressful? [Unplanned Situations]
Unfortunately, we can’t control everything. Sometimes there are unforeseen and extraordinary circumstances and it will help us feel calmer and more in charge if we are prepared for them. These include lost luggage, delayed or cancelled flights, and more.
Here is what to do in the worst-case scenarios:
Lost luggage - if you arrive at the destination airport and after waiting to collect your suitcase like everyone else, realize that you’re the last one left but yours is nowhere to be seen, don’t panic! I know, it’s kind of a big deal, but there’s no need to get all teary-eyed (like me). You need to file a report at the luggage reclamation desk. Lost luggage is usually found and returned in several days.
A rule of thumb is to always pack your most valuable and necessary possessions in your carry-on bag.
Delayed flight - flights often get delayed so have that in mind and try not to book transfer flights with layovers that are too short (30 minutes are definitely not enough). However, if your flight gets delayed by more than 3 hours, you can and should claim compensation! Find out how.
Cancelled flight - there are many reasons for flights to be cancelled. If yours gets cancelled, check here if you are eligible for compensation.
Having to move seats - if the crew needs to downgrade you to economy class or a class lower than what you’ve paid for, you have every right to a compensation.
All these scenarios are frustrating but try to keep calm and carry on! It’s not the end of the world!
Just remember to preserve your plane ticket if any of the above situations occur - that’s your insurance. It’s best to claim your compensation as soon as possible of course, but don’t worry if you’re not able to act immediately. You can check what the time limit for claiming flight delay compensation is.
Now you know the most common problems faced while travelling and should feel better prepared to travel by plane. If you pinpoint the specific parts you find stressful and see what you can do about them, how to prevent or improve them, you’ll overcome this anxiety over flying in no time! For instance, you can bring your own food and flight entertainment, get lounge access or an eye mask. The key is to understand your fears and how to get over them.
Moreover, remember to stay hydrated when travelling. It’s also preferable to eat light food before and during the flight. Follow this simple airplane etiquette to reduce your and others’ stress levels.
Now the answer to “Why is flying so stressful?” is: It’s not so stressful, actually!
Focus on the positive aspects of travelling.