I just stepped off my 29th flight this year and am once again extremely happy to be back on solid ground with both of my feet. I’ve been thinking for a while what my newest “confessions” should be about. On one of my recent flights, where the plane was shaking like crazy during landing and I was ready to say goodbye, I figured I’d make a “my irrational fear of flying edition”.
I hate flying!!!
The actual flying that is. I don’t mind the time it takes and can’t be bothered by the inconvenience of being stuck in the same space with more than 200 people for about 15 hours. I just hate the actual feeling of being up in the air with nothing underneath you. I wouldn’t necessarily call it a fear because it’s not like I won’t do it, but it’s more like I find it extremely uncomfortable. I’m usually just fine until the engines start running. When I’m pushed back in my seat as the plane is gathering speed and eventually taking off, my heartbeat reaches an unhealthy speed and all I can think of it “get me out of here, now!”
I wanted to be a pilot
And when I came to realize I wasn’t smart enough for that, I wanted to be a flight attendant. Just because it seemed like fun, to travel the world for free. Or that’s what I thought it would be when I was 10 years old. I only took my first flight at the age of 19 and hated it. My dream to become a flight attendant was long gone by then but at least it made me realize it would have been a disaster anyway.
I’ve seen way too many episodes of Air Crash Investigation
Stupid, I know… these are tv shows that are better left unseen, at least for me, because they show all the things that can go wrong or that happen when something does go wrong. I’ve not seen any episodes in a while because I have almost no time for tv watching anymore these days, which is probably for the better. I vividly remember watching an episode where a plane from Alaska Airlines plunges into the ocean after poor maintenance. When I double checked my flight schedule for my trip to Alaska the week after, I realized my Seattle – Anchorage flight was operated by Alaska Airlines. Needless to say I wasn’t very comfortable during that flight. If only I hadn’t watched the stupid show…
Please, don’t tell me that flying is the safest way of transportation
I KNOW!!! No need to repeat that, really. I know! I hate it when people tell me that. I know that way less people die from plane crashes every year than in regular traffic. I know that cycling to work each day brings me in danger because I have a near hit with either a car, another bike or a pedestrian at least once a day, so it’s just a matter of time until there’s a real collision. Yet flying is very safe. I know…
5. Bushplanes are better! So I like them!
Because basically, you don’t go as high as normal planes and at least if the pilot gets a heart attack or so, you can take over control. Not that I would know how to take over control, but still, I could always use the radio and ask for help. My worst bushplane experience was while doing a flightseeing in the Canadian Yukon, over the mountains and glaciers of Kluane National Park. It was extremely windy and it felt like being on a roller coaster. My colleague, who was sitting in front of me, just kept on screaming “I need more paper bags!” Well, there you go. That’s how bad it was… At least a real roller coaster is fun and over and done with in less than a minute.
Embarrassing: The one time the police came to see me …
… And asked me why the hell I was spending my time along the runway of Anchorage Airport. Each time I’m in Alaska I try to visit Earthquake Park, which offers views of Mt. McKinley (highest mountain in North America) in case it’s a clear day. Just a bit further down is Point Woronzof which is pretty much where the main runway of Ted Stevens airport ends and where the jets take off on their journey. Since I had just spent 3 weeks with a group of people I had never met before, I needed some time to chill out and be on my own. So I rented a bike and just cycled down there. I figured it was a nice place to stay for a while, just overthinking my time in Alaska, how that trip changed me forever and waving goodbye to all planes. The police (or whoever they were, they looked official) must’ve seen me and thought “hey, what’s that person doing there.” So they asked me to leave. It’s America after all…
People clapping after a landing annoy the shit out of me
Never ever in my life did one of my customers give me a round of applause when they had a good journey. Sure, someone sent me chocolates once and they even bother to send me a postcard from Alaska (much appreciated!) every now and then. With one of my previous jobs, one of my customers asked me out but I doubt that had to do with the marvelous journey he had. As for the clapping, the pilot is just doing his job you know… I actually thought that the clapping travelers were a dying race but on my recent flights to/from Argentina, the whole plane started clapping when we landed. Or at least the Argentineans. Hallelujah.
I refused to go to the toilet…
Because, what if the plane would crash when I’d be in the toilet? Crazy, I know. On the way to Peru (ages ago!) I managed not to go for 12 hours… Nowadays I have no trouble with it anymore, apart from the fact that it’s just gross. I rather pee in the bush than on a plane.
I don’t mind until it gets bumpy
Basically, flying makes me quite happy, at least when going away to discover a new place. So when I’m up in the air and all is well, I’m dreaming about what’s to come. Until it gets bumpy. I know it’s perfectly normal that it’s bumpy (as normal at the fact that the wings actually go up and down) but it scares the shit out of me. Just the idea that something might be wrong…
And finally… my most memorable experiences when flying : – )
– The one time Singapore Airlines brought me chocolate cake and champagne for my birthday. Yes, this truly happened, they even wrote me a card with it! It made my journey home a whole lot easier.
– Flying business class with Air Canada and eating all I was being served just because I could. And then finishing their whole stock of cranberry cocktails, for the same reason.
– Flying home from Riga, totally hung-over, after a weekend out with my girlfriends. Flying with a hangover is bad enough, but it’s worse when the girl behind you (who was probably as hung-over) starts throwing up. Just imagine the fun.
– Sitting next to a (famous) tennis player who kept on stealing wine from the flight attendant when she wasn’t looking. Within two hours he passed out so when I needed to get out to the toilet, I had to crawl over him. Even though he was handsome and all, that still was a bit awkward.
– Being on a shaking plane for more than 12 hours was definitely one of the worst flights ever, home from Singapore to Amsterdam. It wasn’t just shaking, but the whole crew had to stay in their seats, too. I saw all of Asia passing by below me that night. Believe me, it was a long flight.
And since I always make sure I have a window seat (well, almost always … sometimes I’m just unlucky) I take pictures like a madwoman. From take off, landing, mountains, glaciers, myself, the moon, the sun, that sort of stuff. Here’s an impression of the pictures I took over the past year.
As you can see (and as I realize now that I have almost finished this post) there’s basically nothing that gives me reason to have a fear of flying. In 168 flights I’ve never had a worse experience than what I mentioned above so basically, my fear doesn’t make sense at all. I’ve never even missed a flight or lost my luggage. As my next flight approaches (in 10 days) I’ll try to look at things from the positive side. Flying is actually so much fun…
This post is a part of the Sunday Social Travel Talk series… each Sunday we’ll tell you something about a personal / private travel related topic. Go here to read the previous posts!
Thanks for sharing!