How Safe is Flying? Detailed Statistics

I understand that statistics are not enough for you to overcome your fear of flying, but I have to show you some proof to back up everything else I tell you on this website. To overcome your fear you must understand WHY and HOW flying is safe, and this is where this website will really help you

Everybody tells you that flying is statistically safer than almost any other mode of transport. But is this true? YES IT IS! As proof, here are a few statistics and charts;

  • A US National Safety Council study showed flying to be 22 times safer than travelling by car
  • 21,000 people (on average) die on the road in the US in a 6-month period. This is approximately the same amount of all commercial air travel fatalities WORLDWIDE in 40 years
  • More than 3million people fly EVERY DAY.
  • A Boeing aircraft takes off or lands every 2 seconds somewhere in the world – all day, every day!

Below is a chart showing a direct comparison between different modes of transport in the US. As you can see, more people died while riding a bike than on an airliner. These statistics are from 2000;

US Transportation Fatalities 2000 – Source: NTSB

This next chart shows a comparison betweeen the number of airplane accidents and the actual number of departures. You can see how safety has dramatically improved since the early days. This graphic comes from the Boeing Website.

Why Am I Still Nervous?

Many of you will look at these facts, but still believe flying to be unsafe. Despite me telling you that 1 plane in 5 million crashes, the only number you can focus on is the 1.

Try to start analysing risk in everything you do. There is a risk when you cross the road, walk up the stairs, drive a car, or any other activity. Why does flying seem like more of a risk than any of these things?

The answer is usually related to the feeling of having no control. The fear of flying is an emotional response, and it’s this that must be changed.

An expert in dealing with changing your emotional response is Tom Bunn and his SOAR Fear of Flying Program.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    I read where if you lose the engines you can glide 30 minutes however what happens when you are over the Atlantic or Pacific?

    • says

      Yes, 30 minutes is the approx time an aircraft at cruising altitude can ‘glide’ before landing. But, on transatlantic routes an aircraft is often more than 30 mins away from an airport.

      Firstly, it is important to concentrate on how unlikely it is for an aircraft to lose ALL engines. Jet engines are incredibly reliable, and rarely fail. So, for more than one engine to do so is almost impossible!

      There are stringent rules regarding which planes are permitted to cross the Atlantic regarding maintenance checks and suchlike. Therefore, aircraft that operate transatlantic routes are possibly the safest.

      If, however, in the HIGHLY UNLIKELY event of complete engine failure over the Atlantic the aircraft can land on water – and is designed to do so.

      There are plenty of examples of aircraft landing safely on water, the most recent of which is the ‘ditching’ of US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River in New York. Despite claims that the Captain performed a miracle landing, ALL pilots are trained in how to ditch an aircraft. Only a tiny minority will ever have to utilise that training though.

      In summary, it is VERY rare to lose all engine power, and if it does the aircraft can land perfectly safely on water.

  2. craig dickson says

    you can glide for 30 mins depending what aircraft your on, but if your over water , see ya xx

    hope this helps. stick to europe..

  3. Laurent says

    Hello,
    I became a fearful flyer over the years even though I have flown countless times far distances. Somehow hearing that flying is the safest mode of transportation isn’t enough for me: i need proof. And when I say proof, I mean not biased statistics from Boeing counting fatalities per “passenger miles”. Another example of not convincing stats are the ones presented up above on this web page. It says that more people died in car accidents each year that on plane accidents but of course they don’t mention that so many more people use cars than planes everyday. What would be interesting is to present stats comparing accidents proportionally. For instance, out of all the trips done by car each year (and I bet its more that the number of flights) how many fatal accidents? and out of all the commercial flights per year how many accidents. If you go on wikipedia they present some stats from the english department of transportation showing that on a per trip basis, air travel is less safe than driving.

  4. Harry says

    Hey there, i do understand the facts, and i trust them, i know numbers work. Even though, my grandfather was in the RAF, all those times and hours he spent flying, not once did he have a hiccup, not once has my uncle ever had a problem, and he flies on a weekly, commercial basis, never has any of my family EVER had a problem with flying. Im 17, i watch TV, i blame Air Crash Investigation tbh.

  5. says

    i think the fear of flying is your chances of survival in case of an incident. I would be interested in seeing the statistics of number of automobile crashes:fatality rate vs commercial airline crash:fatality rate.

  6. says

    It’s not so much plane malfunction that worries me, it’s all the idiot foreign suicide bombers out there. I don’t trust that the security is up to par. All the US marshalls in the world can’t stop a bomb on board. There is WAY too much that slips through the cracks.

      • gj13 says

        Well let’s see there was that shoe bomber guy … such a credit to his cause …

        I’m thinking if a couple of folks tried to hijack a plane today he better have a bomb, otherwise every individual on the plane would rush them and stomp them to death prior to shoving them in the toilet.

  7. Anon says

    I don’t think the people commenting on here with a negative attitude is doing anyone any favours. What is the point in actually locating this website, just to comment on it when you have no interest in it at all anyway.
    Get a life.

    • Sharon says

      I agree, I think that the negativity is coming from people who obviously have no problem with flying and don’t really care if other people do.This is a fantastic website, thank you, been after something like this for a while. I miss enjoying a flight and really want to again.

  8. c says

    Why is that ‘anon” because you don’t like people to talk? Maybe you should get a life and let people live ahole.

    Anywayz, I for one feel flying is so much not safer than driving. If you take that driving is say 60 times more dangerous than planes, but then that people drive 95% of the time more than planes, it starts to put a hole in the ‘planes are safer’ argument. Also, I have been in 3 big car crashes in my life and survived every single one of them. There is not a person on earth that has lived through 3 big plane crashes. In a car you have crumple zones, air bags, shatterproof glass, protected fuel tank. On a plane you have a rinky dink seat belt and ton of explosive fuel on board along with a airframe created to be strong, but not tough to survive a good crash and protect the occupants, they literally just disintegrate.

    Please stop telling people flying is safe, cause in reality it really isn’t all that safe. At least with other modes of transportation you can have a good chance of surviving, but when at 30K feet and 400mph and a problem happens and the plane starts plummeting, its pretty easy to see how it will end.

    • says

      Hi C,

      So, you have survived 3 big car crashes?! How many plane crashes have you experieinced? I’m guessing zero as it’s very rare when it happens. I have never pretended that flying is 100% safe – but that’s because NOTHING IS.

      Statistics show that 80% survive plane crashes when they do happen and I have never heard of anyone who’s been involved in more than one. So, your argument is flawed, and by mentioning the 3 serious car crashes you have been involved in you are merely backing up that flying is safer.

      I operate approx 40 flights per month and have been doing so for 5 years and never had a serious problem. Further to this I have not once felt unsafe as I can see how safety is always the number 1 priority.

      So, take your misguided opinions elsewhere and stop trying to upset those that have come here for genuine advice on overcoming the fear of flying. If you choose not to fly, that’s your problem.

      • gj13 says

        Seeing all the comments from folks saying flying isn’t safe is actually making me feel safer about it. The reasoning being used seems skewed and disproportionate when it’s not coming out of my mouth LOL.

      • Anonymous says

        wow i have a fear of flying even though i never have flown, but my gosh when i read that it scared me, FEAR OF FLYING HELP thank you for putting c straight about things.
        i was staying in london near heathrow one time and a plane must have been landing every 5 mins, i was shocked really because when you think about it, if all those flights taking off and landing evry 5 mins at heathrow and you rarely hear of anything happening, every day day in day out, weeks months years which equalls that its a rather safe transport to pick!

  9. Sarah says

    C! It is all very well saying flying isnt safe and a very dangerous means of transportation. I for one am terrified of flying. I dose myself up on zanex, breathe into a paper bag and hyper ventilate the entire journey! I hate my fear so much! however I love to go on holiday and am looking to overcome this fear. By claiming flying is not safe you are sharing an unnecessary opinion to people who visit this site to help beat their fears. Many people are afraid of mice, spiders and even walking outside their home..you may say this is an irrational fear, however that person who suffers from a different anxiety may think your stupid for your fear of flying. You have survived three big car crashes, well I would think yourself very lucky, but you failed to say how many plane crashes you had been in???…Yes people drive everyday, but pilots are specially trained, not taking a test to see if their Nissan micra is parked correctly and the different colors of the traffic lights. People visit this site to overcome their fears, they are realistic that overcoming flying and taking the risk would be more beneficial to their lives as opposed to criticizing and sitting on their arse not going anywhere. And if by chance you do fly and do travel I would suggest you take you worthless opinions elsewhere! Thankyou…

  10. Dave says

    I also hate flying, i go through the same emotions everytime i get on a plane – and i have to fly a lot around the world for business. I get on, try to think positively but after a while i start looking out the window and wondering ‘what if’…etc. I recently took up flying lessons (yeah i know, crazy all things considered) in an effort to combat my fear of flying and to learn what is actually happening when a plane takes off and lands. It is really helping, and understanding how aircraft gets in the air and more importantly, stays there, really does help. When all is said and done, passenger planes are VERY safe and so technologically advanced now that they have systems to cope with pretty much every eventuality. Yes crashes to occur, but this statistic should put things into comparison…2.3 BILLION people flew safely in 2009, out of a total of 35 MILLION flights worldwide, only 18 resulted in fatal accidents. You literally have a greater chance of being kicked to death by a donkey…true!

    • Ckb says

      Hi, I’m 27 flew once when I was a child to AZ and just flew to Las Vegas this month and
      am planning to revisit in November. I went to the dr got Xanax and prayed the whole time, banking terrifies me and I just would like to know where you got the statistic for 2009? My dad used to be a mechanic for American Airlines and tells me it’s completly safe, however the idea of flying again in November literally makes me stomach turn. I would like to overcome this fear very much so. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  11. Jane says

    Hi

    The whole point of a fear of flying is that it is irrational. I know I have more chance of winning the lottery than being in a plane crash but I am still afraid. I do fly on average 20 times a year for work and I have stopped flying for pleasure. I have never had any sort of incident or even encountered turbulance which proves even more so that I have a fear/phobia and it is directed at flying (if you know what I mean) I am going to attend the fear of flying course run by BA, I have heard some fantastic reports and people really have completely overcome any fears they had.

    Jane

    • says

      Hi Jane,

      I’m aware that those with a more severe fear of flying have an irrational fear, and that statistics won’t necessarily help you a lot. However, there are many travellers with a mild anxiety about flying that need these statistics to help reassure them that it is safe to get on a plane.

      If you read this site you’ll find that I fully admit that I can only offer a certain level of help. Those with more severe phobias are recommended to order either the TakeOff Today Program or the SOAR Fear of Flying Course.

      Please feel free to share your story once you have completed the BA course. You’ll find that the start of the course will feature the information on this website (i.e. how flying works, why it is safe, and who is looking after your safety) before moving on.

      Do they offer a guaranteed course? The SOAR Course is the only one I’ve seen that offers full refunds if the participant does not overcome their fear.

  12. me says

    well im going mallorca in 3 weeks and it is a 2 hour flight and im flying with ryanair i have been told some nasty stories, help…….
    thankyou :)

  13. Rob says

    Hello,
    I first would like to state thank you for creating this website; And that I also do not have a phobia of flying, just a mild anxeity (something about being 30,000 feet in the air creeps me out.) But I found this and other sites to be helpful. People who come on to these sites to bash the statistics and other facts just have fears themselves and have no means to overcome them. Thanks for creating this site!

    -Rob

  14. Sharon says

    Thanks for this website. I have been hypnotised and was on valium last year, but neither worked, i used to love flying and i try to sit there and think rationally but for some reason it doesnt help. im the sort who sits there listening to every noise of the engine thinking theres something wrong and panics, i tell my husband that he has to get someone quick to tell me its ok but this still doesnt work!

  15. Olly says

    Hello great site, im about to get on an Air Asia Flight from KL Malaysia to London. When i was on a plane going to kl from london, i was over the Bay of Bengal and the plane really felt like it suddenly fell out the air and a guy who had a coffee in his hand next to me spilled it everywhere. Although we laughed about it after, i have a fear of flying and the experience really shook me up. My fear unfortunately is getting worse. I heard interesting stat about turbulence that i thought was quite interesting. Is it true that even if turbulence feels really bad for the passenger the plane hardly reads it at all, and what feels like a 1000 meter drop is nothing like the reality?

    Thanks for the website your doing a really good thing
    olly

    • says

      You are completely correct, the aircraft never moves as much as you think it is. In fact, if you were flying next to the aircraft you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell it was experiencing turbulence.

      If you compare it to speed bumps in the road it makes more sense. If you drive too fast over one, you are thrown about inside your car. In fact, if you are going fast enough you will leave your seat completely. The speed bump is tiny in comparison to the size of your car, but it feels huge when you are being thrown around your car!

      The same applies on an aircraft. Turbulence is bumpy air, but you are travelling at 500mph through it. The reason it feels worse is the fact you are not part of the aircraft, but travelling inside it. Therefore when the aircraft drops a few inches, it will move a split second before you. This results in a feeling of falling a lot further than you actually are.

      On my turbulence mini course page there is a video on turbulence that shows how little the altimeter (which measures the planes altitude) barely moves at all during turbulence. Click here to see it.

      Hope that helps, and thank you for your kind words. Enjoy your flight. Let us know how you get on.

  16. Andrew says

    Is United Airlines a safe one? I have to fly from Greece to Philadelphia in a few days and I’m literally freaking out.

  17. says

    What a wonderful website! I just discovered and bookmarked it, so i am going to spend lots of time on it in the near future :) Well, here is my story. I LOVED flying! The first time I flew was 7 years ago when I was 20 y.o. The take off felt so unreal, I couldn’t stop smiling! I never even think for a second “what if..”, I was looking into window amazed by the beautiful sky and tried to see other airplanes in the distance. I especially loved flying during sunrise or sunset!

    4 years ago when my husband and I traveled to Europe we had a horrible flight back. I never had problems with Lufthansa – they have great reputation! But I got really scared this time… About an hour after take off all TV screens went dark. The flight attendant tried to say something using the microphone and it would just make weird noises like it was broken. Then the awful turbulence started… 20 min later it is still going on… then it stopped then in about 10 min started again… We had to wear seat belts 80% of the 12 hour flight! They finally fixed the TV monitors and the microphone only 1 hour before we landed!!!!!!!! They admitted something was wrong and apologized only after we landed. I still don’t know what the problem was… may be it was nothing serious and it just looked like it… But I remember asking for more wine (trying to get myself drunk and less nervous lol) and saying to myself: “Once we land I will NEVER step on another plain ever again”. Minutes felt like hours….

    My mom flies the same route 1-2 times a year and I always ask her “Was there lots of turbulence?” and she always says, no, there was hardly any…. So I don’t know why there was so much turbulence that time… I wonder if some electric/electronic problems could cause it.

    Sorry, I didn’t want to scare anyone, I just wanted to tell my story and explain how I got my fear of flying (and may be get some answers about what happened during that flight).

    After 4 years of not flying, we decided to have a nice well deserved vacation in Hawaii, so we will have to fly… That’s why I googled “is flying safe” to read some more about it and hopefully feel better because I knew there would be lots of articles and charts proving that flying is SAFE…

    • Olga S says

      From a topic “Turbulence” on this website:” Severe – Flight Attendants will be instructed to put their seatbelts on. To put this in perspective, I’ve experienced this once in thousands of flights!” THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I EXPERIENCED and now I am afraid of flying :( The Exits light up also I believe.. If this didn’t happen I would still enjoy flying.. :(

      • oliver o'keeffe says

        Hi Olga, just to let you know i have a fear of flying to. Most the time i take long flight to Asia from london flying over the Bay of Bengal and i have experienced several times turbulence that was Severe enough that the flight attendants had to put there seat belts on, its not a nice feeling because you feel like “if they are worried then my god i must have to be worried to”. Although in reality its just for there safety (bumping their heads that sort of thing). Also having scanned this website a bit and i am surprised how little other people have experienced such bad turbulence when for me its almost a yearly occurrence ( bad luck for me, by the way im fine and the only thing the turbulence did to me was scare me but all the flights landed and everyone was fine).

        I also found out on this GREAT WEBSITE that planes holding cargo (letters, parcels that sort of thing) and not humans will deliberately fly into bad weather so as not to lengthen their journey by flying around it (which is what airlines do). When i first heard this i was shocked. If a Fedex captain is ok with flying deliberately through bad weather then i think that puts bad turbulence on a commercial jet into perspective. All the best, keep flying.

        olly

      • says

        Hi Olga,

        With regards to exit lights, they only come on when the landing gear is down. You mention the monitors going off etc. This is not a serious problem and is NOT related to the flying of the aircraft at all. These things happen from time to time.

        Primary equipment (for example, flight deck communication, navigational equipment, autopilot etct etc) have AT LEAST one back up system if one fails – and usually more. Monitors – however – do not as they are not essential.

        On the other hand, we will not depart an airport if the PA system is not working, it would be fixed first. But, it is not a serious issue if it stops working mid-flight.

        With regards to the turbulence you encountered, it is nothing to worry about. Every now and then it can get quite rough, but pilots normally avoid this for your comfort. As Oliver mentions, a passenger aircraft will take more active steps to avoid bumps simply to keep you comfortable and allow you to continue walking around the aircraft without falling over. A FedEx pilot doesn’t care as he/she has no passengers to worry about!

        Turbulence can sometimes be uncomfortable, but as long as you have your seatbelt on it is not dangerous and will never cause damage to the aircraft.

    • says

      Cathay Pacific is safe. It’s a large, successful airline and has only experienced one fatal event in their history. This was in 1972 due to a bomb exploding onboard – back in the days when airport security was almost non-existent!

  18. Bernardo says

    Hi there, Great website!. I used to love flying and do lots of it but once flying back from Sao Paulo to London using Swiss Air, the turblence was horrible (at least in my mind) that I could not sleep the whole journey (12 hours). I was stressed and nervous for the whole journey (for everyone else it seemed very normal). Ever since, flying around Just europe became unbearable. I pretty much close my eyes and concentrate on the sound of the engines for the whole journey. Luckily the flights were short as I was not eating or drinking anything and Plus I got medicine that would normally send me sleeping for hours but would not work due to the adrenaline. This is already a problem as I need to fly regularly. The major problem is that I am flying on the 13 december to Sao Paulo with AIR FRANCE. Forget about number 13 and Air france, I do not know how I would bare the 12 hours journey. I tried everything to get over the stress, so I took 6 flights in the last 2 weeks within europe and I thought by the end I will get over it but NO it kept getting worse and worse!. For my situation Flying is a MUST! but the nervousness and the stress is hell!….can anyone help please? I am considering taking some psychiatric help.

  19. Adam says

    Howdy, great site!

    I have had a fear of flying for years and have avoided flying or going on holidays for almost 5 years. Its really tragic but that is the reality of ppl who have a fear of flying.

    People who do not have a fear of flying do not understand what it is like. To be honest if you look at statistics flying is pretty safe, and i really beleive that getting hit by a bus is more likely to happen. Im soon going on a long journey that i dont really want to do but have to to combat this phobia. Im going from Sydney Australia to Paris, im thinking of going with SIngapore airlines or maybe Thai? Any words of advice with those two airlines and their safety? I will possibly be taking the a380 from Singapore to Paris, is it true that turbulence isnt as noticeable on this aircraft as much as other smaller planes?

    Thank you.

  20. melly says

    HI I am taking a six hour trip on virgin america being they are a new airline doe sthat mean they are not as safe as older ones and are the planes safe even tho they are new couldnt their be a defect that hasnt been found out yet.I have a major fear of flying and i am raveling with a 2 yr old and want to be on the safest flight as possible thanks!

    • says

      With a new airline, it’s often difficult to assess there safety due to the obvious fact that they have not previously been operating.

      However, in Virgin America’s case, safety standards can be compared to already existing airlines. You have probably heard of Virgin Atlantic, but if not, they are a huge airline based in the UK with an impeccable safety record. The airline was started by a hugely successful British entrepreneur (Richard Branson) who is now working hard on Virgin Galactic selling tickets to space for $200,000!

      The reason I’m telling you all this is simple. Despite Virgin America being a relatively new airline, they are operating under the Virgin brand which is huge, reputable, and very successful. Safety is not an issue.

      With regards to your comments on new aircraft being less safe, that is definitely not the case. Newer aircraft are far more advanced than older models, and they are tested extensively before operating a commercial flight. I noticed that the airline operates the Airbus 320 family. These are the same aircraft I’ve been flying on every day for the last 5 years and I can assure you they are fantastic machines.

      Your 2 year old is in perfectly safe hands. Hope that helps.

  21. larry says

    I never fkew until about 3 years ago and now I’m on a plane at least once a mont if not more… The travel bug deff set in with me… I was TERRIFIED on my first flight… and was actually in tears until we got to cruising alltitude… but now I cant get enough to me there is nothing in life more exciting than taking off HMMMM … Sometimes on long haul flights I actually pray for turbulancre to aleviate the boredom .. turbulance can be quite fun :)

  22. Sharon C. says

    Is Spirt Air safe? I want to visit children in Cartagana, Colombia and they had a short route, only about 3 hours from Ft. Lauderdale. I hate flying and I don’t know how I will do once I am up there. I have been once and it made me sick. I know that this phobia is irrational but the fear is still there. I don’t want to be so terrified of the return trip back that I don’t enjoy myself with the children, which is what happened on my other trip!!

    • says

      I’ve never really heard of Spirit Airlines as I’m based in the UK. However, I have done some research for you and in their 30 year history they have never had an incident. On that basis, they are a safe airline to fly with.

      The airline have a fleet of Airbus aircraft – some of the most technologically advanced, and environmentally friendly aircraft available at this time.

      It seems they have been in trouble with some somewhat ‘cheeky’ advertising campaigns, and they have recently upset their pilots (they went on strike this year after 4years of unsuccessful negotiations over pay and conditions). Wikipedia reports that they are the lowest paid Airbus pilots in the US. But, what’s important to remember is that a pilot will never endanger the lives of others over his/her pay.

      Hope that helps, you’ll be fine.

  23. Bobby says

    Hi,

    Im currently a student going to South Africa with my college with South African airways. are they safe?

    Really worryed about the plane crashing!

    Thanks

  24. S.L says

    HI, great website! I’ll be flying to South Korea from U.S. by Korean Air this weekend. It will be tough 16 hours since I hate flying and I am pregnant on the top of that!!! How safe is Korean Air and any tips you can give me….??

  25. Stephen says

    theres no point in talking statistics, a plane is a man made machine and machines fail at times, whether because fault of airline/engineers whateva or sometimes for reasons unknown. the fact is if your stuck on a plane thats breaks down or whateva u know it’s gonna be bad as opposed to an instant accident in a car/.bus or so when u dont see it coming. it a chance you take when you fly

  26. says

    Hi. My names Chris, I’m 21, from Northern Ireland, and I rarely get to travel abroad. Until recently I was slightly nervous about flying but I was able to control myself relatively well on a plane. Last summer I went on my 1st holiday abroad without the parents (went to Egypt with the missus) – long story short there was 4 flights in order to get there and back again within a week long period. I was almost in hysterics on the flight home. I honestly dont know where its come from, but I remember that I was looking out for every little noise and strange thing whilst on the planes. e.g. We were preparing to taxi when I could smell fuel in the cabin. It freaked me out so much that I began to shake and ended up creeping out the missus. Upon reading up on the event I discovered that it was due to reverse thrust or reversing the plane (it was apparently an older plane, and was perfectly fine).

    Problem is that I have a flight coming up next month (for a stag do; small flight from Belfast to Liverpool) and I cant stop panicking about it. I dont know why I’m still so scared – I know that all those wierd noises are perfectly fine (the pilot would say if there was something amiss), I also know that turbulence is absolutely fine, and that the odds of the plane crashing or encountering a major problem are in par with the UK winning Eurovision!

    I still dont know what to do; your website has been an amazing help, but are there anymore tips you could suggest for someone in my particular predicament? Thanks for taking the time to help us out by the way!

  27. Amcd says

    im flying to spain in 10 weeks and my fear of flying is totaly geting me down i cant stop thinkin but what if i know there safe but i recently researched when the airplane loses pressurization in the cabin and i just cant stop thinking about it not only this but also failure, accidents etc i reeli need some advice on this as i am dreading boarding this flight to the extant i would like not to go atal !!!

    • says

      Losing pressurisation is VERY rare, but yes it can happen…. That’s why there are drop down oxygen masks that will automatically deploy in the event of this happening. This coupled with swift action taken by the pilots (included in any airline pilot’s standard training) will ensure you remain safe.

      You are NEVER 100% safe. Those poor people who have lost their lives in the Tsunami in Japan today were certainly not expecting it. Nobody can tell you when it’s your time to go, but you are statistically more likely to die in a natural disaster than on an aircraft.

  28. Amy32 says

    Im flying from LGW to Zante in june for my friends wedding and it’s my first time flying!..I am petrified. I dont want to take any form of medication as can not stand the thought of being out of it…I try and rationalise it but its still not sinking in. I think that my plane will be the one that drops from the sky… :o( . I want to be one of those people whos holiday starst from the moment they get to the airport but I am dreading it..!!

    Amy x

  29. Anon says

    Hi,

    I am about to fly from to Paris from LAX with Air Tahiti Nui. It’s a direct flight and the carrier only has a fleet of 5 (all Airbuses). I’m starting to wonder if they are safe. Many thanks for your help!

    • says

      I don’t know much anything about this airline, but I can say this…

      Any airline in breach of European or US safety regulations will be banned from operating within our airspace. Regular checks are carried out on all airlines flying within our airspace.

      I can also assure you that Airbus make some of the most technologically advanced and safest aircraft in the world today – and that’s coming from someone who has operated 3000 flights on the Airbus family!

      Hope that helps

  30. Noz says

    What people fail to see in the statistics is that even though flying “accidents” and incidents are far and few between, WHEN it happens, it’s game over.

    There are many more fatalities due to driving…but there are also MANY MANY more survivors in car crashes than flying accidents. Guaranteed.

    • says

      You’re wrong….

      On average 82% of people survive a plane crash. Plus, with airline accidents being so far and few between (as you admit), you are a LOT more likely to be in a crash in your than you are on a plane.

      There is a much bigger chance that your car will be the ’1′ involved in a bad accident, compared to your flight being involved in an accident. In fact, they are so far apart statistically that it’s almost impossible to compare.

  31. Kat says

    Hello,

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for your website.
    I’ve had a fear of flying for a while now, but agreed to fly to France in order to face my fear and see how it goes.
    I’m flying on Wednesday, but I recently started to become increasingly nervous about it so I tried to see what I can find online to help. I came across your website and I am feeling a lot more confident about my flight, so thank you for your advice- it’s really reassuring to read the various safety statistics :)

  32. Jamie D says

    Just thought i would do a post, i hate flying, get so nervous and have a real fear!!! My friend came over from Australia AGAIN! and asked why i have not been over yet! So decided to book a ticket and now im going for a month next week!

    I thought to myself, IF I DONT DO THIS I WILL NEVER SEE THE WORLD, friends etc have been all over and furthest i have been is Berlin (from Edinburgh, Scotland) and that flight was not as bad as i thought it was!

    Anyhoo, just thought i would say well iv taken the plunge and decided to do a 17 hour flight!!!!!! Wish me luck!!!

  33. Kel says

    Hi there,

    Please help me.

    I used to travel in a huge airplane for 6 hours to Australia which I think was 747. That was almost ten years ago.
    I was 14 years old that time and enjoyed the flight.

    However, for the past recent years, I travelled with budget airline which uses a smaller plane. And I noticed that I had become a fearful flyer. I had not had any bad experience on any flight before.

    Personally, I think I have developed this so call phobia of flying is because as I grew older, I gets more panaroid. Especially when I saw bad news. For example, the Air France incident. Til now, I guess no one knows what has actually happened?? Or is there already a conclusion. I am really sensitive to news like that. Please enlighten me.

    Although I am educated and I can analyse numbers from statistics, whenever I fly nowadays, I gets very paranoid on the airplane esp during take offs. And no matter how long was the flight, it was just mere torturing as I have got no mood to eat, sleep, and even talk. Sometimes, just by thinking I am on a plane makes me feel nervous.

    Please advice what I can do. Many thanks.

    • Danny says

      Hello,

      You know, humans aren’t designed to fly. We just aren’t, so it’s only natural to get at least a little apprehensive about flying. Also, the media is excellent at reporting just about every single aviation accident around the world. However, there are still some ways to get over the fear.

      I am working towards my pilot’s license, and at first I was a little on edge when I went up with my instructor (and keep in mind, I’m flying a little single engine plane about the size of a car). However, as I’ve learned more and more about airplanes, how they work, and the regulations in place to ensure they are in good condition, my faith in the safety of flight has never been higher. In all honesty, I feel much safer in a plane than in a car. Why? Because I’m not at the mercy of the other terrible drivers on the road. Most of the airplane crashes in the world are caused by pilot error, and most plane crashes are general aviation aircraft (basically people like me who fly very small planes for fun, not for hire). Commercial pilots are held to a much higher standard than pilots like me, so you can be sure they are at the top of their game. Planes themselves go through inspection after inspection to ensure the engines are running great and the airframes are intact. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that mechanical failure never happens, but it is EXTREMELY unlikely. In fact, you are more likely to be struck by lightning.

      Different people cope with fear in different ways. I suggest you try learning more about airplanes and flight. Learn about what goes into the construction of aircraft, how they work, and what takes place during the different phases of flight. The more you understand the unknown, the less you have to fear.

      I hope this helps!

    • says

      Engines have extinguishers that will automatically disperse if there is an engine fire. The pilots will shut down the affected engine, and divert the aircraft to the nearest airport.

  34. Kelvin says

    Hi Danny,

    Thanks for the advice. Your post certainly helps me. I appreciate it.

    In fact, due to my flight anxiety, I have been doing extensive search on aircrafts operation and safety lately. I believe a normal person will not go to this extend.

    I hope I can overcome my fear. And all the best for your pursuing of pilot license. =)

    Cheers!

  35. James says

    While I have no doubt about the statistics and the fact flying is safer than driving , I still can never understand the flawed logic in the conclusion. The fact flying is safer than driving is a reason not to drive it is not a reason to fly. As statistically you are afr worse off if you do both. And given that everyone drives when you add flying to the mix that puts you at greater risk.

    I just thought I’d point this out, I fly all the time but the line of argument is flawed. Put it this way if I said to you stabbing yourself in the leg is safer than shooting yourself in the stomach, I have hardly provided a compelling argument to stab yourself in the leg!

  36. Sarah A says

    Please help me if you can. I have to get on a plane from Denver to Boston in less than 7 hours and am literally on the cusp of a nervous breakdown. Except for the occasional bout of intense fear that pops up any time that i hear the littlest thing, or think i see any kind of sign that our plane might crash – sI have been in denial about this trip for month since purchasing the ticket pushing the reality that I have to step foot on that Boeing 757 out of my mind, but now it is hours away, staring me right in the face, (literally, we live 0.7 miles away from the airport) and I’m not sure I can handle the reality.
    I have had this fear of flying as long as I can remember, I am 23 and have flown probably 20 times in my life – never with any problems with the trip itself – other than the fact that I have full blown panic attacks every time – starting at take off and then periodically through the trip. I obsessively listen to the engines for anything that might sound bad (not that I would know what it would sound like) and am constantly on the look out for smoke. I take Valium and (against Dr. orders also have a few drinks, just to try to keep my panic at bay) i also try deep breathing and positive “self talk” but nothing seems to stop the fears. My fear is that something mechanical with go terribly wrong with the aircraft, that a hose with have a leak, or a fire with break out, or we will lose an engine, or the cabin will explode, or we might have a loss of electricity, any of the above to cause the plane to crash to the ground at 700 miles per hour. I do not have fears or anxiety in any other aspect of my life, jus with flying, I competitively horse back ride, mountain bike, and ski, so its not like i have an overall fear of risks. Just this afternoon my friend told me to put my faith in God, but I am an Atheist, so how could that help me? When I dropped my dogs off at the kennel, and put my horse away in the paddock today, and said goodbye to friends, I truly felt like I was saying goodbye to all of them forever. I am convinced I will die tomorrow, and I am at a loss with how to cope with this problem, I and am seriously considering not going on this trip all together, just because of this stupid fear, it is paralyzing, and extremely painful when you try to explain it to someone and they laugh it off as silly.
    please, if theres any way that anyone out there can lend me some bit of solace, comfort, or reassurance, I am desperate, and would greatly appreciate it.

  37. Liz N says

    I’m flying to California in about a month. I am taking allegiant and I was wondering how safe they are and if they have had any bad incidents.

  38. Kallie Johnson says

    Hi,

    This is a great website. I am flying for the first time in October to Jamaica on AirTran and I am really nervous about it. I have been researching what it feels like to fly (takeoff, turbulence, landing etc) and I hope I will be able to fly without freaking out. My fear is more a fear of heights and lack of control. I also have a fear of elevators in tall buildings. Do you know anything about Airtran and will the flight attendants take time to talk to me and reassure me? Thanks, Kallie

    • says

      I don’t know that much about AirTran apart from they used to be called ValuJet and had a couple of incidents in the early nineties.

      With regards to the Flight Attendants taking the time to talk to you…. they are there to help in any way you can. If you need reassurance, they will take the time to reassure you. Do not be afraid to talk to them!

  39. Alishba says

    Hello, alishba here. I fear flying as well. It’s not that i hate it, i love holidays but all those negative thoughts really upset meI’m flying to malaysia and thailand, and i got a few flights on thai airways and malaysia airlines.Anyone can suggest me anything please?Reply soon. Thankyou

  40. Sarah says

    Hello all,
    I to am very very fearful of flying and as a result I have been on 2 yes 2 virgin flying without fear courses at £200 a pop and they did work for me well I say they did work for me I was ok on the first flight I did after the courses and then everything went out the window and my irrational thinking was back again on the flights, we have a young daughter who I really don’t want to pass my fear onto so when im in tears petrified she askes me mummy why are you crying and I tell her mummy is ok baby mummy has Hurt her arm or leg, but there is only so long I am going to be able to fob her off with that line. The hostesses are excellent I tell them I have done fwf courses and they look after me the whole time always checking on me literally every half hour bringing me a cuppa or whatever I want, this is a very big reason as to why I ONLY fly virgin.
    We have a Florida holiday booked for my daughters 5th birthday and I know it is going to be the same old process of sleepless nights for 2weeks before the flight and then me being a complete idiot and going to emotional pieces and being 100% useless to my family for 8hrs and trying unsuccessfully to hide my fears from my daughter.
    I would give anything to be able to board a plane and just be ok with it I don’t want to like it just be ok with it would be a huge improvement and not sit there paralysed with fear, but I think I am incurable and will always have this fear for as long as I continue to fly :(

  41. FearfulFlyer says

    I’m flying tomorrow, hate to do it, but there’s only so many ways to get places. Loved flying as a kid, loved turbulence. I guess more recently I’ve been freaked out more. Since taking a JetBlue flight, when we found a receipt in our seats from the previous flight less than 30 minutes ago. How long does it take to refuel, or don’t they sometimes? Well, during this flight.. During drink service, there was the strongest turbulence, drinks from the attendants trays were flying everywhere. They got on the intercom and said, no more drink service. The turbulence was so bad, dipping and diving that I was holding on for dear life, same with my wife. Everyone was panicking, just looking around I noticed people crying, praying, and screaming. I think somebody yelled, let’s just land this plane in the closest airport. I agreed. Said I’d never fly again, but have 6 times since. I also am biased now, don’t like seeing Many people of Pakistani descent on my plane, why do they love flying so much? One flight pretty much had all pakistani’s, and after every one used the bathroom, I’d go in and search it. A plane full of single Pakistani men got me angry and vigilante. I think I was saying things aloud that shouldn’t be said. I don’t care. They should be searching the right people at airports, not just trying to make it fair, lives are on the line. Any help? Thanks.

    • says

      Refuelling is often taking place as you are boarding the aircraft depending on airport restrictions. I work for an airline that aims for 25 minute turnarounds. In that 25 minutes, passengers get off, we security check everything (and this step is never missed out!!), tidy up the aircraft and make it look presentable, and then the next set of passengers can board.

      Whilst all this is happening, the pilots will be briefing on the departure and flight plans and the aircraft is checked for any damage. Refuelling often begins as soon as passengers leave the aircraft….. it doesn’t take as long as you may think it does.

      With regards to your other comments I cannot and will not condone your rather naive and racist comments. Every single passenger comes through the exact same security checks as you. To imply that Pakistani men are all terror threats is extremely immature.

      I will add this though, the bathrooms are security checked continuously throughout the flight by the flight attendants as part of our duties so if anyone leaves anything in there, it will be found.

  42. Miryam says

    I used to love fying until I had a one-hour flight between Lima and Iquitos (Peru), we flew over the Andes (cold air) and into the rainforest (humid hot air), the turbulence was so bad, I was terrified. I have flown tens of times since then, and I encounter turbulence very often; I just came back from Paris, and are about to board a flight for San Diego in a few hours, for a conference. I find that the more that I fly, the better I get at overcoming my fear. I did have one emergency landing once, where the oxygen masks were released, and I am still here. I bought a book that really helps with explaining the mechanics behind flying and explains that turbulence is not a safety issue (it is my mantra when I fly), so folks, it is human to be scared of getting on a plane, we were not built to fly, but planes are. BTW, amont the people that I admire the most in the world are flight attendants and pilots, they rock!

  43. Jetman says

    Fearfull flyer your comment about going through the toilet made me laugh for hours! It’s so funny!!!!

  44. Anonymous says

    OMG Fearful Flyer I cant stop laughing, not to be mean but omg the wording was so funny. The truth be said you are correct. I flew jetblue several several times form New York to New Orleans and really loved it till one time like your story the trays started flying, my crown royal spilled on me I was drinking but the turbulance didnt help. I smelled like an aloholic when I arrived my fmaily was hugging me then making faces as if I just left the bar. I will never forget that day. I observe my surroundings each time i fly. I once had a family of pakistanis on our plane and they all had those BIG towels on their heads but I got to thinking what gives me the right to judge? I just hope the air marshalls are making a difference. I have a flight in less than a month and I am nervous.

  45. Katie says

    Hi all

    Many thanks for this wonderful site. I am a Cognitive Behavioural Psychological Practitioner and am currently working with a lady helping her to overcome her fear of flying. The information and rational advice on this site will help her to build some concrete evidence against her irrational fears.

    Miryam, you said the more you fly the less scared you feel. This is absolutely true and in psychology is called “exposure”. This basically means that the more we face our fears, the easier this becomes. This is because our brains, instead of telling us we are in mortal danger, tell us there is no immediate threat. It is only once we start facing our fears that the horrible emotions and physical symptoms we feel will reduce and make flying more bearable, maybe even enjoyable.

    Sometimes, however behaviours we do to help ourselves while flying can actually make our fears worse (such as breathing into a bag, distration techniques etc). This is because these behaviours attempt to distract us from our fears and in the process, reinforce that sense of “I can’t cope”. While we think we can’t cope, we won’t be able to overcome our fears. This means we have to feel the fear to allow our brains to “re-learn” that nothing awful (all of our imaginings of catastrophes!) won’t actually happen.

    Even though this is my day job, I do too get jittery on planes! However, as Fear of Flying Help says, nothing is 100% safe (even lying in our beds!), and no one deserves to be held prisoner by their fears or anxieties. Once we start to overcome our fears, our confidence will increase, facing other fears will be easier, and we get to have great holidays to boot.

    This site is so brilliant as it shows that you’re not alone, fear is natural, but you CAN overcome it. Good luck everyone! xxx

    • says

      Thanks for your kind comments Katie, the concrete evidence is something I find important too. I don’t want to just say flying is safe, I want to show WHY it is safe. The statistics above are useful to a certain degree, but also it is extremely important that fear of flying sufferers read the whole site and take note on areas such as how planes fly, the procedures in place to ensure flying remains safe, the highly trained professionals who look after your safety, and the regulations that must be adhered to for an airline to remain operative.

      I am currently writing a more structured and detailed course on the fear of flying and would love to have you onboard to contribute to the psychological side of the course. Would love to hear from you if you are interested in sharing your expertise with a wider audience.

  46. Anonymous says

    Hi

    was just wondering about the qualityof budget airlines thinking of flying to riga on wizzair but just wondering how an airline that is that cheap may cut corners, and being cheap do they pay the pilots less than more expensive airlines like ba or virgin so the pilots wont be as good and experienced.

    • says

      Budget airlines in the developed world are incredibly safe. Their business model always puts safety at the top of the agenda for the simple reason that if an incident occurs the flying public will instantly blame the fact it was a low cost airline and therefore cut corners and endangered lives. For that reason, safety measures are usually MORE stringent than other airlines.

      I work for a budget airline, and I know that we are a safe airline to fly with. I actually wrote an article on this subject go to: The Safety of Low Cost Airlines.

  47. k says

    This is for all those WHO FEAR FLYING. I am one of them and I am slowly overcoming my fear. I am not going to talk about statistics because that never helped me. What I did was trying to learn to survive? I would never go to a presentation without being prepared, why would you fly without being prepared. Basically I went to the internet and searched articles on how to survive a plane crash. Do you know how to? I didn’t and I think this “not in control” played a major role. Do you know how to open the exit window or put on a mask? Do you know that you can use the cushion as a flotation device? What should you wear and not wear on a plane or what should you do if you land on water ie. I think once I became “prepared” my fear started to deteriorate

    On a side note – this has made me a better and a more relaxed person. My fear of flying is really a fear of not being able to see my wife, daughter, parents, and friends. All your ‘problems’ seem to disappear. Every time I fly I appreciate my life even more. I appreciate my wife even more and I appreciate everything that I have even more. So I challenge all of you – next time if you are in a rut or things don’t go your way – you didn’t get the job you wanted, someone cut you off, someone blocked your driveway ie think about the fear that you had on the plane and know that these little things are meaningless sometimes and isn’t worth your time to think about. Appreciate what you have and enjoy life!!! Hope this helps =)

      • Annette says

        Hi
        Thanks for this page an dfor everyoe’s comments. I never had any sort of fear of flying until I was in a 50 seater plane and got the tail end of a hurricane. Everything was fine and I don’t think we were in any danger but the turbulence was horrendous and that together with the fact that Ihave 3 kids has made me a chicken in the sky! But I do love stats and this has helped out alot. Thanks!

  48. Adam says

    Let’s do some number crunching. Out of the 16 biggest airlines in the USA there have been roughly 157,000,000 flights, and 37 fatal accidents (fatal defined as where anyone has died or been severely injured, and survival rates on plane crashes are around 50% anyway). As a percentage that is 0.000023%.

    If it was around 75,000 times more likely, it would still be 1%

    You’re statistically more likely to be hit by the first lightning strike in a thunderstorm on your birthday.

    • Adam says

      Just to clarify, this is roughly eight million-to-one, consider a person winning second prize on the lottery is around 1 in 2 million, and how many of those do you know?

      If you can find them, look up chances of a stranger breaking in your home and murdering you,

      If a passenger boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would statistically be over 21,000 years before he or she would be killed.

      So there are the statistics you cynics are demanding, and seeing as your average flight is a LOT longer than your average car journey this is as unfavourable as possible towards the airline as you can be.

      Plane travel should be your zen-moment, where you are in relative safety, far above the dangers of day to day life where almost nothing can hurt you because it is in a highly controlled environment.

  49. R says

    my fear is to do with if the plane does go wrong, just falling to the ground and descending rapidly, knowing your probably going to die. I fear dropping out of the sky, I get vertigo as well which probably has something to do with it. I still go on holiday but the few days before flights I am dreading the flight and its always on my mind, which often ruins my holiday.

  50. Anonymous says

    I couldn’t agree more. I never really was afraid to fly until I had my children. I have two young girls now and that is truly what scares me. The thought of them growing without a father is horrible. I just don’t want to miss them grow! It is amazing how your life changes when you love someone more than yourself and would do anything got protect them. This thead did absolutely help though. And hopefully the bar opens early to take the edge off…lol.

    • Marie says

      For me its been particularly hard because not only I’m scared of what everyone talks about…not being in control, plummeting toward Earth, not seeing my family again, etc. but I also met years ago a woman who actually lost her father and sister in the Valuejet (now known as Airtran) flight from ATL to MIA. That made it so much more real to me and also that if I know someone, then I could be that someone.

  51. T says

    Thanks for the info and insight. I am a frequent flyer and did not really have fear until Feb 12 a few years ago when I saw from my window seat a fire on the ground on a late night flight back home to buffalo. The pilot came on and said a plane fell short of the runway. That flight was 3407 and it went down just 10 minutes prior. Flying has not been the same since. These stats and info does help.

  52. Sally says

    I still get nervous each time I fly (usually around once every 2 years) but every time I do I just think about the flight attendants, and how they fly day in day out for their whole career. What right have I to have any concerns at all on the odd occasion I take to the skies? This puts it in perspective for me, and I am able to push my thoughts away as being pretty silly.

  53. Micky says

    I have a bad fear of flying and im 20 years old living in New York. September 11th has always been in my mind and the fact that my neighbors also were killed in the TWA flight 800 doesnt help me. I do try to avoid flying and when i do i have anxiety attacks. The best way for me is to sleep on the flight and i usually do with my headphones in and a long flight vertually feels like 10 minutes when you are asleep

  54. Alex says

    I used to be terrified of flying. An annual flight to destinations around Europe has cured my fear and now I love it. My advice is to keep going, you’ll get over it eventually. I genuinly look forward to flying now. Enjoy.

  55. says

    I am flying to South Dakota in July for a wedding and will be transferring twice on US airways as well as once onto Great lakes Aviation. I hear it’s a “prop plane” should I be worried???

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