Flying with confidence: Easy steps to clear the fear

Cape Town - The opportunity to board a plane and take a trip, whether international or local, usually strums the right cord of adventure for most travellers.

But lately, with a social media influx of videos and pics showing various stressful air travel scenarios taking place more often than we’d like to know about – even the hardiest of travellers can be forgiven for having a case of the nerves.  

We can only imagine the impact this has had on those people who are genuinely afraid of flying? 

Did you know one in 10 people have a fear of flying and it doesn’t get more real than being prepared to sacrifice R18 000 in charges just to avoid flying, does it? According to British Airways this is a common scenario for as much as 25% of travellers, who at some point experience a degree of fear while flying.

“People who are anxious about flying often don’t realise that there are plenty of others who feel the same way and there are proven ways to deal with their fears,” says Captain Steve Allright, who presents British Airways’ Flying with Confidence course, which the airline is hosting in South Africa on the 15th of November.

Captain Allright, a senior British Airways training captain with over 11 000 flying hours, is also the co-author, together with Psychologist and Psychotherapist Patricia Furness-Smith, of a book by the same name. 

Also see: Captain Steve Allright talks about getting over your fear of flying

While there is no magic formula, the course with its 98% success rate, and most certainly the book come remarkably close in helping anybody with the flying heebie-jeebies – making it possible to finally take that exciting holiday adventure or career-shifting business trip.

Written in an easy-to-digest format, it’s filled with positive affirmations a plenty but the key message is simple - in order to overcome your fears you need to replace unfounded anxiety with useful and empowering knowledge.

(Selene Brophy)

“Your life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better with change”- Jim Rohn

The book, as with the course, firstly tackles the technical side of flying – covering everything operational from the landing gear, all the way through to why you’re hearing certain noises or feeling a particular vibration. 

Uneasy passengers will be able to rest easy as it details how pilots manage the fuel of the plane, the weight of luggage and passengers’ alike as well as the rigorous training and re-training processes British Airways pilots are put through. 

“The mind is its own place, and in itself. It can make a heaven out of hell, a hell out of heaven”  - John Milton, Paradise Lost

Secondly, Flying with Confidence, equips you with psychological tools to master your fears and anxiety, from understanding how your brain processes your flying phobia to using actual case studies as illustrations and practical exercises that will help you relax and gain control of the situation. 

(Selene Brophy)

Also see: BA passengers can expect new app features

Key to the technique, Anxiety expert Furness-Smith outlines the Four Rs, that will help those experiencing a panic attack to get into the right frame of mind for overcoming their fears: 

1. How to React – Passengers are taught to employ a mind association technique involving a rubber band that allows a snap of pain on the wrist to force the reader to focus and positively and affirm their control over the situation. 

2. Regulate your breathing – this technique is used immediately after the impact of the elastic band pain, with the passenger repeating the words Calm as they inhale and Relax as they exhale.

3. Relax your muscles – the book covers extensive points on how to relax the different muscle groups in your body. Passengers are also taught how to do a full body audit in order to identify the area of tension before using the correct technique in order to relax more quickly.  

4. Rehearse a positive scene – this premeditated task looks at actual scenarios that have impacted the person afraid of flying, who then has to create a scene which will become their place of sanctity when an episode happens. The passenger is encouraged to employ all the five senses, as they go over the rehearsed scene and overcome the anxiety of the moment. 

According to British Airways, the combination of technical and psychological methods used in Flying with Confidence appears to work
well and is underpinned by the testimonials on the Flying with Confidence website - take a look here.

If you’re interested in attending the course, it will be presented in Johannesburg on 15 November 2014 at a cost of R4 500 per person. British Airways is also putting its money where its mouth is, by offering a 10% discount on international flights booked within a month of the course.

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