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Nervous Flyers


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My teenage son and I both have extreme anxiety related to flying, mostly claustophobia. We both take anti-anxiety medication 1 hour before the flight takes off. It's a short-term solution for a short-term problem. It makes the flight bearable (barely). I wouldn't be able to fly otherwise.

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I have flying anxiety and took XANAX when I flew dd to Joffrey. It was wonderful. I still got a bit jumpy when we had some pretty rough turbulence, but nothing like I would have, had I not taken the medication.

I called my doctor and explained the situation, and she prescribed it right over the phone. She said they are used to getting calls like this.

The medication just made me a bit sleepy. I usually can't sleep on planes, but this allowed me to.

It was definitely worth it.

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Yup, got another one over here.


Medication can be very useful. Ask your doctor what might work best. Otherwise, relaxation and visualization techniques sometimes work. My daughter likes to be kept occupied with card games and the like. We know to avoid nighttime flights if we can, as she likes to be able to see outside the plane.


Is her anxiety confined to flying? You don't need to answer that -- but if her anxiety is more generalized, her physician should be consulted.

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Thanks everone for the usefull advice. Her anxiety is ONLY with Flying...has gotten worse over the past few flights..She had 1 flight out of Boston that dropped over 5000 ft in seconds, and her last flight was with a "skyjockey"....as she called the pilots! And she has some reservations since 9/11, as I am sure we all do? I counter this with the reality that we can't stop living a productful life due to fear!

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I have a couple of ideas for you which DON'T involve medication:


Theme one: Creative Distraction

-- Get (or rent) one of those portable DVD players and have your DK

watch a movie (pick a really good one out with DK in advance). Or if

you have a laptop computer that plays DVDs, that's cool too.

-- Nintendo, or any of the other handheld game thingies.

-- Have your DK burn some CDs with soothing music, and carry

that along for them to listen to during the flight.

-- Or, audio books on tape/CD would be good too.


Of course you can't use these at the very beginning and end of the flight,

but they do really help pass the time. You may come up with other

ideas that would work best with your DK.


Theme two: Give them more information -- take a look at


for resources, suggestions, and information about flying

and pass some of the information on to your DK, or even

sign them up for one of the classes that several major airlines offer.


Finally, I'll add that on two occasions I've accompanied relatives who

were nervous fliers on long flights, and they said it makes a big difference

to have someone calm there to hold onto for reassurance. So, don't underestimate

the value of your presence there with your DK, or the presence of a

relaxed and trusted adult (teacher, mentor, etc).


Anyway, I hope this helps either in place of, or in addition to medicine...

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I know my dk flew a couple of times to or fro a residential program with an older dk from our area, who readily admitted to flight fright, and spent most the flight unabashedly clasping her hand. Might you coordinate flights with anyone else??

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I absolutely hate to fly, terrified of heights and claustrophobic, but with having DDs all over the country , I have to fly. I need to have an aisle seat. It makes a huge difference, so I don't feel so claustrophobic. Also , if you can get in the section that has extra leg room ,all the better. If you could arrange the flight to be on one of the airlines that has a TV in the back of every seat, it would be great. Jet Blue is one airline that does this. There are multiple stations , so you can entertain yourself trying to see what is on the tube, etc and can track your flight, etc.

I always make sure to buy a really interesting book so it holds my interest, and of course, prayer.

And there is nothing like experience. After you have flown many times, you can convince yourself that you have heard that noise before or flown through this much turbulence before and came out unscathed. Still, what I wouldn't give to be able to blink my eyes and be there.

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If you don't mind taking OTC medication, I've taken Benadryl with good results (it just made me a little more relaxed but not asleep). Also, when the flight attendants greet you as you come on board, I will sometimes mention to them with a smile that I'm "a nervous flyer". They are generally very nice and will sometimes check up on you to make sure you are OK--- also then I feel less silly asking "Are we OK?" when I hear something that just doesn't sound right to my non-flying ears, if I've already spoken to them! I'm also a big fan of books on tape-- particuarly something light and engaging for flying...maybe Harry Potter.

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Not a nervous flyer, but often "antsy", and distractions to fill the time and occupy the mind and body certainly help _a lot_.


For dvd players, consider an extra battery for longer trips. There is an external battery out there than provides 4-6 hours of playing time.


Also, sewing kits _are_ legal on planes, so sewing shoes is always a good time-filler. :-)


Finally, consider bringing some especially soothing snacks.

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Some airline companies offer workshops for nervous flyers to help them get over their fears. This might be something to look into as it would provide a more long-term solution. (N.b. I've never checked to see if US carriers offer these courses but I've seen them advertised for several European ones). One of my own tricks, when encountering turbulence, is to watch the flight attendants. I figure that as long as they are not panicking, I shouldn't be either, since they have far more experience flying.

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Guest dancinabbs

My dad is a pilot and we have a small plane with my grandpa (not a jet or anything), but my step-mom is afraid of flying, so she just got this book called "Flying Without Fear" by Duane Brown, and it's really popular. If you go to Amazon.com and look the book up, all the reviews are really good, so you might want to read it. I havn't actully read it, but I'd give it a shot.

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Just back from a thankfully uneventful flight from Hawaii, joining the club!


My dd (15) has only recently developed a debilitating airplane fear, this after many years of flying. I myself am a very fearful flyer and regret that I may be somewhat responsible for her phobia. It is odd that I am now in the position of "comforter," but comfort I must in anyway I can. As a fellow fearful flyer, I know that logic and rationality don't always work. For many years, I weathered my fears which were all of a mechanical nature, but after 911 it all became too much so I started taking Zanax. For this trip, I asked dd's pediatrician what she would recommend, so Zanax it was for her as well. It worked well to calm her down and get her through the flight.


Another poster said that mentioning his or her fear to the flight attendant helped...I definitely agree. The moment we boarded I alerted one of the flight attendants that my daughter was panicking and she made an extra special effort to calm and reassure her. It helped enough in fact that dd asked me to do the same on the return flight.


Also, before my first post-911 flight, I got some last-minute telephone counseling from a former airline pilot. He was very soothing and gave me a good visualization exercise to do. Although I was still planning on using a low dose of Zanax for the flight, it did help take the edge off as I was getting ready and while I was on the way to the airport. If any wants the information, PM me and I'll try to find it for you.


P.S. to whoever said they prefer daytime flights...I am totally the opposite. I prefer not to see at all!

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