Dear Captain Lim,
I have never had a problem with air travel until this one where I was on a very turbulent flight from Singapore to Japan. As if that wasn't bad enough, the return flight back to Singapore was just as bad! The subsequent time I travelled was from Singapore to Hong Kong and the turbulence was the worst I have ever experienced. It was bumpy almost throughout! These bad experiences have caused me to fear air travel, I’m anxious about every flight I take. My family goes on holidays quite often and I’m nervous on every flight!
What I fear is not so much the anxiety of whether the plane will crash during turbulence (because I know it is very rare that planes crash due to severe turbulence), but what I fear is the STOMACH SINKING FEELING which I absolutely hate!!!!!
I get this feeling during take off as well. It makes me so nervous that I start gripping onto the arm rests. I always wonder why I seem like the only one affected by the turbulence and everyone else on the plane is nonchalant about it.
Is there any way I can help conquer my fear? Do relaxants and muscle exercises really help? And is there any way I can check way before the flight to ensure I’m about to get on a very smooth flight so I don't have to be anxious?
Even though I still do fear flying, visiting your website a few months ago to read up on turbulence really did help me. I didn't feel as much anxiety as I normally would in my most recent flight to Xiamen, China.
Thanks to you! I'm sure you hear this often enough, but still I would like to thank you for all the effort you put into helping fearful flyers like me to face our biggest fear! Your answers really do make us feel more secure and enlightened. I would really appreciate it if you could answer my three burning questions in the previous paragraph. I'll be flying off to Taiwan tomorrow morning.
Since it's winter now, I’m expecting turbulence. Getting nervous again! Cross my fingers it'll be a pleasant flight.
Jean from Singapore
If you have gone through all the answers in “Air Turbulence”, all your burning questions have been answered before. However, I would just like to elaborate a little as regards to the “stomach sinking feeling” that you fear during the turbulent flight.
When you have a fear of flying, every little thing is magnified. This is not to say that only you feel that anxiety of the plane’s bumping along in turbulence. I am equally concerned about turbulence and do get that kind of “stomach sinking feeling” sometimes, but I am used to it now.
Some people take turbulence better than others. Some even pay money to get that kind of thrills – the roller coaster rides! Not for me! I don’t like roller coaster rides as they make me sick! It gives me nausea. Nausea is the feeling which usually comes before vomiting and is often described as "feeling queasy." To some, the sensation of nausea may be accompanied by a sinking feeling in the stomach and a feeling of dizziness. Nausea may also be part of motion sickness.
Motion sickness is often caused by the abrupt jostling of the aircraft due to turbulence. The repeated motion and continued stimulation of the inner ear disturb your sense of balance and equilibrium. Many fearful flyers may have witnessed or experienced air sickness themselves but were helpless during this time. The embarrassment of “throwing out” may aggravate the fear.
The following few tips can help to minimize the severity or prevent air sickness. Amongst the many, try to look outside the aircraft and hold your head still as your eyes send the message to your brain on the direction of the motion. Do not try to read or look at near object in the aircraft. Take deep concentrated breathings, open air vents, loosen clothing and relax. Anxiety and rapid or abrupt movements will exacerbate your condition. Choose a seat at the over-wing area or middle of the aircraft where it has smaller angle of motion. The wider angle of motion is at the rear of the aircraft.
There are also many preventive drugs available at the counter or by prescription from your personal doctor. Remember, some of these drugs may also cause you drowsiness too.
So, if I can experience the same feeling in the cockpit as you do at the back, you need not have to fear. As I have advised some in a magazine, if nothing works, just pretend that you are on a roller coaster ride when you next get caught in a turbulent ride!