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Turbulence

I'm so scared every time I fly and there is turbulence. Does anyone know what to do about it? Maybe something to read about it to better understand what is happening or what can happen.

Posted by
144 posts

I hate turbulence. And I have claustrophobia and fear of heights. My strategy is to bring a totally absorbing trashy book and have a couple of glasses of wine. It takes the edge off, at least. And I am not above saying a few Hail Marys, even though I am not Catholic. I just look at the discomfort of travel as something I have to endure in order to get somewhere exciting. And I find the more I travel, the easier it gets.

Posted by
33 posts

Flight Attendant, can you help me here? From your experience, what do other people do in this case?

Posted by
658 posts

Hi Monica - You get scared every time you fly ? Me too.

Especially in the days when I had to fly into Dublin or Belfast in tiny little aircraft like the old Saab 90 or ATP. It was like being a kite in a hurricane.

The only way I can deal with it is by understanding my alcohol tolerance and drinking just enough to get relaxed but not enough to be even approaching the drunk zone.

I don't just have this problem with turbulence I have it with all flights. I have to fly, my job requires it ( and my wife also requires we vacation in the Caribbean ). I have tried accupuncture, prescribed sedatives, hypnotherapy and a 'fear of flying' course. For me nothing works better than three large scotches.

We are all different and your solution may work better for you than mine will.

( and I smoke - a lot. Not recommended under any circumstances. But they do work - for me )

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks Al, but the drinking part will not work for me... after a beer I'm drunk... so no chance. I can't handle that...:))))
I have to fly a lot too and long flights to and from the US don't help... it's even worst. Most of the time I'm by myself so there is no one to hold my hand when I'm scared...::))))

Posted by
479 posts

Monica, this looks like a great website that could help. http://www.geocities.com/khlim777_my/asturbulence.htm It is maintained by a pilot. I have only glanced through a few paragraphs of text, so I apologize if this isn't the information you're looking for.

You seem like the type of person who likes to arm yourself with information to calm your fears. This is a very healthy approach to dealing with fears.

Posted by
219 posts

Monica, Take a drive north to Disneyworld or to any other amusement park. Force yourself to go on the roller coaster rides. You know the ones that go upside down and backwards as fast as the speed of light. Keep going on the rides until someone comments on your skin coloring being similar to those from the living dead. Then take your plane ride and be relieved. You'll find that the turbulence, if there is any, is nothing like those roller coaster rides! Seriously, plug yourself in to your favorite music, watch a movie, read a great book, sleep, or any other activity that keeps your mind pleasurably occupied. Have your seatbelt on for those very rare but major drops. Finally, call your airline's customer service. Ask what they can do to ease your fear of turbulence. They might offer some great ideas. Good luck!

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you Jeannine, but that roller coaster thing... no way I'm going to do that :)))) you are sweet and thanks for all your help. I might call the airline, that's a great idea.

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you Jarrod, indeed, I think the best way to deal with this is to better understand what's happening. Thanks for that website, I'll look into it.

I tried to sleep, but I always weak up every time there is a little "move", listening music doesn't help either... I'll try finding out more about this.
Thank you.

Posted by
103 posts

Oh my gosh.. you guys are WONDERFUL.. I'm not quite white knuckled, but very close to it..LOVE to travel.. HATE getting there...BP spikes.... hands get clammy and I forget to breath. I try to read, but find I've gone over the same sentence for 20 mins and still have no clue what it said.. Finally calmed down after nine hours and then it was time to land for the layover and it started all over again. And reading about the roller coaster made my tummy think I was going on a flight and I have to go find a cocktail! NOW!! Good to know I'm not the only one..

Posted by
479 posts

Monica, I can never sleep on planes no matter how tired I am. I just can't get comfortable enough to sleep for even 10 minutes. I've thought about bringing a small DVD player and a few DVDs in case I don't like the in flight movie. But that adds weight and takes up space.

Posted by
40 posts

Monica, I too know how you feel. I've been flying all my life (I'm 47), moving as a Navy brat, then active duty, now for fun and for work. I actually didn't become afraid until I "knew too much". I had taken flying lessons, solo'd several times, flew in the jumpset behind the pilots in my military days, with no fears. Then after getting out of the military and flying only on commercial airlines, over 20 years ago, the fear started. I jump at every bump. I know exactly what causes the turbulence, but I also imagine all the possible things that can go wrong. Like is that fuel coming out of the wing (it once was!), what if we hit a wind shear, was the plan properly maintained, is the pilot responsible....?!!

Long story short...after a number of years of trying to tough it out, my husband talked me into telling my doctor, who prescribed valium. It's much better than spending ten hours gripping the seat rest with sweaty palms. A glass of wine or two can also be very useful!

Posted by
11450 posts

I take a pill and pretend that turbulence is just the bumping of the train along a track,, works for me! I do not take a pill for short flights, so the "train" method works pretty good for an hour or two.
I must say that the mind can really mess you up,, knowing too much is as bad as knowing too little.
I always thought of turbulence as totally harmless, then I watched some shows about wind shear, and mechanical break downs,, and well, I have definately grown more fearful with age. When I was a child flying was just fun, couldn't wait for the drink cart to get to me so I could have a soda. LOL

I never ever drink alcohol on planes, it dehyrdrates you and in an emergency I think a drink may impair your judgement. The pill I take is a very light one, and I only take half of it, so I am mellow, but not passed out.

Posted by
219 posts

Pat, I too was afraid of wind shear until I spoke to the F/A who immediately directed me to the pilot. I was in Texas waiting for takeoff. It was delayed due to thunderstorms. A few weeks prior there was a plane crash due to wind shear. THe kind pilot told me not to worry. He explained and showed me all the instruments he had to help him predict any possible windshear in the area. He also said the flight tower had its own instruments too. It sounded simplistic but it helped. Here was a person who was confident in his piloting abilities. For me that's all I need to get me through the ride peacefully. When I board I always check for the male or female pilot's mettle.

Posted by
808 posts

Wow, an F/A was actually able to get a pilot to come out and speak to a fearful passenger?! How cool is that? That's a pretty considerate (and probably bored) pilot! IME, we're generally not suppose to even suggest such a thing for safety reasons. They are generally far too busy with thier last minute preparations and safety checks. That almost never happens! So you were exceptionally fortunate to have been granted this extra service.
And Pat is ABOLUTELY correct! Yes, drinking WILL affect your ability to safely evacuate an aircraft in an emergency!

It is also very important to actually LISTEN to the safety briefings. Even if you've flown on the same a/c hundreds of times before. I still listen!

Just as our announcement says "The most important safety feature of this Aircraft is our Flight Attendants. Please give them your full and undivided attention as they deliver the following life saving information..."

Posted by
808 posts

If you aren't willing to listen to THAT, at LEAST count the number of seats to the nearest emergency exit. Both forward and reverse. That information will help get you out, at the very least. Listen to all anouncements. S/T we get prior warning...
Some excellent suggestions posted here. (Well, except for the alcohol/sedation in excess) Try to avoid all stimulants which can add to anxiety. Try to avoid caffeine prior to and during the flight. Get a good night's sleep beforehand...

Taking a class at the Airline can be helpful. Or asking to be pre-boarded for a special safety brief. Listening to your favourite music sometimes helps. Occupy yourself as much as possible...
Some pax like to be seated near an F/A. Sometimes chatting with us can help relax you. Maybe even let us know what you're feeling... Also seeing that we're okay, you're okay...
Try to remain seated as much as possible, even with your seatbelt fastened. A "Bump Injury" due to turbulence might raise your anxiety level. (Don't forget those in seat anti DVT exercises!)
Safe Skies!
F/A

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you FA, indeed what you just said it is sooo true. When I'm scared, I always look at a FA, if they are not scared I feel better. It it a good idea to stay near one of them.... and belive me, I ALWAYS have my seatbeat on...:))))
I admire what you all do as FA's as I would never be able to do something like that. Everytime you fly, you risk your life. Well, I hope you will never have to "practice" the safety instructions and be safe.

Posted by
808 posts

Thanks for that. I'm glad to hear that some of us actually do pay attention. We see who does and who doesn't...We always try to make eye contact with each passenger during safety briefings for just that reason. We watch our passengers closer than they might think.
When you consider that it is life saving information being presented to you, why WOULDN'T you listen??

Safe Skies,
F/A

Posted by
131 posts

A tip I once got was to look down the center of the aircraft- the fuselage will not be bouncing around (well, hopefully not!). I try to tell myself that it is like driving on potholes in a car- the only difference, really, is the tremenduous altitude and loss of control!!! I also try to take it a few minutes at a time- I pretend I am reading my book but really count seconds, slowly. If it is still bumpy after three minutes, I do another! Usually by then things have either improved or I am so sick of doing that I do the fuselage watching as a break!

Posted by
4555 posts

You gotta remember that the two people flying the plane up front aren't enjoying the bumpy ride either, and they'll do just about anything they can to make the ride smoother, like changing altitude or altering course, both for their own comfort, and to keep their passengers happy. Weather forecasts, new instrumentation, and more air travel (reports from other pilots) makes it a lot easier to predict "clear air turbulence" before your plane hits it....that goes for wind shear as well (the stuff close to the ground in or near thunderstorms.) And remember, they build aircraft today to stand up to stresses far in excess of what you'd encounter in turbulence. The Boeing 777 wings are designed to take 1 1/2 times the most serious loads they'd ever encounter in flight; see the YouTube video at http://tinyurl.com/2wdj86 and you'll see the extremes they went through before anything happened.

Posted by
4555 posts

From a more practical standpoint, my wife, who hates turbulence, brings her MP3 player with copies of a "relaxation" CD on it....Harmony, or Peace, or Relaxation, or some name like that...lots of them available at drug stores, etc. She turns that up, closes her eyes and focuses on the music....refocusing every time there's a big bump. And, if all else fails, remember that travelling by air is still far safer to fly than to drive to the corner store!

Posted by
33 posts

Thank you all for your good suggestions. I'll try anything just to feel a bit better when flying. I just have to be positive that something will work for me too.:)))

Posted by
2023 posts

I have finally gotten over getting tense when the aircraft hits turbulence after many transatlantic flights. I like to have lots of crossword puzzles and Suduko to keep myself busy. Take offs are always a bit unnerving but I am fine with landings. On the last flight the pilot announced about one hour into the flight that we would likely experience turbulence mid way over the Atlantic. Hearing that did not make me want to sleep and sure enough there was severe turbulence. I always pay attention to safety briefings and exit locations and also notice who is seated in the exit row seats. I wonder about those who take sleep aids such as Ambien being in those seats. Don't think they could react at all if an emergency came up.

Posted by
40 posts

I've heard the lifting your feet off the floor makes the turbulence seem less intense, so you may want to give that a shot the next time it happens.

Posted by
808 posts

"Able Bodied Passengers" are specially selected and approved by Crew to be seated at Emergency Exits. They must meet certain safety related criteria. They will receive a special safety briefing and must verbally agree to assit passengers, under the direction of the Crew, in the event of an Emergency. We try to maintain contact/monitor these individuals through out the flight. Consuming alcohol or sedatives will in fact impair judgement. Such activities would end thier duties as an ABP.

We would then require that person to be moved and a more suitable ABP put in their place. It rarely comes to this as ABP's are monitored closely. Federal and International laws require Crew to act in accordance with these laws at all times. Failure to do so has serious consequenses. Not to mention compromising your safety and mine.
So Susan, you can rest assured that ABP's are selected and monitored closely. It's all about safety.

Safe Skies,
F/A

Posted by
1717 posts

Monica, when you are in an airplane above the Atlantic Ocean, and you experience a rough ride caused by air turbulence in the sky, talk to someone : choose a person who is not hysterical or very stressed. Look at that person's eyes. Do not talk about airplane crashes. You can move to an other seat for the purpose of talking with a person.
An other passenger might like to trade seats with you, temporarily. When you reserve an airline ticket, ask for an aisle seat. Get plenty of sleep before the day you fly. A lack of sleep causes people to feel stressed. In my experience, the biggest airplanes are best and smoothest.

Posted by
842 posts

Monica......."books on tape". You can get so into a a recorded book that you forget where you are and what is happening. I love 'em.

Posted by
8 posts

There are lots of great replies here, so what you need to do is find the technique that works for you.

Someone once told me that a plane rides in the air like a boat rides in the water. I wouldn't be concerned about the ups and downs of a ship, so I try to think of it the same way, and that helps. (By the way, I have no idea about the scientific nature of that claim and do not want to know (!) as thinking of it like this works for me.)

This may be obvious, but bigger planes bump around less, so trying to book flights that don't involve little hops as connections would be one strategy.

As for sleeping, I resort to dramamine (mostly because I get motion sick). The original formula not only keeps me from getting sick, but it knocks me out for a good 2 hours, then I'm fine. I only take one after take off, and on really long flights... it wouldn't be safe otherwise, but it helps me sleep and keep all my food in my stomach where it should be!