Lonely Planet Writer

New survey finds out what freaks out frequent fliers

While flying is generally safer than ever, heading into the skies still can make passengers very anxious – in fact, more than a third of passengers reconsider flight plans due to fear.

Many travellers still have anxiety around flying.
Many travellers still have anxiety around flying. Image by SuperJet International / CC BY-SA 2.0

TravelMath, an online trip calculating site, released the results of a survey of 2000 air travellers to find out frequent fliers are scared of and what they do about it.

The top anxiety is worry about delays or cancellations, which concern about 85% of fliers. Two-thirds of respondents are worried about a mechanical issue with their flight and 41% are worries their pilot will become incapacitated. One-third of people actually avoid sitting in the exit row as they are afraid of being called upon in an emergency situation, despite the potential for extra legroom.

While 29% said they have no anxiety about flying, 38% have such anxieties that they may be less likely to travel by plane.

TravelMath infographic.
TravelMath infographic. Image by TravelMath

When it comes to how people cope, men and women have different ways of dealing with stress, according to TravelMath.

For men who feel anxious, 54% say they use a distraction like a movie or a book, 15% drink before their flight and 15% drink during. Seventy per cent of women use a distraction when anxious, 28% pray and 19% take anti-anxiety or sleeping pills.

For 36% of people, the scariest part of the flight is the take-off. More than half of people think flying over the ocean is scarier than flying over land.

Despite all of these anxieties, 95% of people trust flights attendants, 92% trust the pilot and 65% trust other passengers.