How to Handle a Nervous Flyer

Raise your hand if you love traveling and hate flying. If your hand is in the air, I’m right there with you. Unfortunately, I inevitably find myself traveling with someone who finds my fear amusing or randomly seated next to someone who, in trying to make things better, usually makes things worse. I appreciate the effort, but I wish that flight attendants would include a list of “things you shouldn’t say to nervous flyers” in their safety demonstration. Until then, nervous flyers  should start handing out these instructions to the travelers unfortunate enough to be seated next to us. The upside  is that by the time they get to number four, they’ll probably request to be reseated, leaving you to the luxury of having a row of seats all to yourself. You’re welcome.

Hold My Hand
Look, I’m sorry. I know you’re a perfect stranger. I know you have a need for personal space and by jumping up and grabbing your hand, I am severely infringing on that need. I apologize for cutting off your circulation and for digging my fingernails into your hand, but right now I am pretty certain that we are all going to die and my last request is that you hold my hand. Later when the turbulence has eased up, I will probably be embarrassed and request that we do one of those “let’s pretend this never happened” things.

Don’t Try to Rationalize With Me
I know that turbulence is normal and nothing to be concerned about. I know that I have a higher chance of dying in a car accident than in a plane crash. I know the pilots are incredibly experienced and well-trained. Most nervous flyers have already conducted their own personal inquisition, cornering commercial pilots or flight crew at any and every possibility to ask them as many detailed questions as possible about flying. Unfortunately the explanations that work on the ground don’t quite have the same effect thousands of feet in the air. Just hold my hand and pass me the vodka.

Don’t Rehash Any Terrifying Flying Experiences
I’m really glad that your uncle’s friend’s second cousin was the sole survivor of an epic plane crash, but I don’t want to hear about it. I also don’t want to hear about that time the landing gear wouldn’t work or the time you were on a flight that got caught in a thunderstorm over the Rockies. And I definitely do not want to talk about your favorite episodes of Air Crash Investigation. Please limit conversation topics to puppies, unicorns, and your favorite episode of Friends. Thanks.

Follow All Flight Crew Instructions
While I’m glad that you feel confident enough to disregard the fasten seatbelt sign because you really have to pee or you need something out of your bag or you’re suddenly filled with a burning desire for a bag of pretzels, you’re stressing me out. Do you know that you’re endangering yourself and everyone around you by disregarding the pilot’s instructions. DID YOU?! I didn’t think so. But since you’re already up, could you ask the flight attendant for another Bloody Mary?

Other Phrases to Avoid Include:
What the hell was that noise?
Is the wing supposed to be bouncing like that?
We’re going down really fast.
I don’t think the runway is going to be long enough.
You have life insurance, right?
I have recurring dreams of being in a plane crash.

By Nikki Hodgson