How to Conquer Your Fear of Flying with Hypnosis

Is a fear of flying ruining your holiday even before you’ve got there? Does a feeling of dread consume you as the days to your flight draw nearer? And what about the flight home: does your anxiety get worse in the last few days when you should still be enjoying your vacation?

Despite what your rational brain tells you – that flying is the safest mode of transport – your emotional brain has other ideas. And you can’t change it just by thinking differently.

On this page we’ll explore the possible causes of fear of flying and how you can reprogram your subconscious mind to learn to fly with calm confidence.

It’s time for your spirit of adventure to re-awaken…

What causes a fear of flying?

Let’s start off by exploring the potential causes of a fear of flying…

One of the main causes could be the memory of a previous frightening flying experience. Perhaps you had a panic attack at 30,000 feet?

What about bad weather and turbulence?

Maybe you witnessed a medical emergency, such as another passenger needing help?

Perhaps you were hypnotised by a news story on TV or the internet about a plane catastrophe? (This in itself can traumatise the brain).

Fear of flying could also be related to a fear of heights in general or a feeling of claustrophobia where you feel trapped with no means of escape.

And then, of course, there is the fear of crashing (which is really about fear of death). This is the fear that seems to underpin most cases of fear of flying. You get on that plane as if it’s the last journey you’ll ever make. You enter the death zone, like climbing mount Everest. There may be no coming back.

Is flying the safest way to travel?

Despite what your emotional brain says, the stats tell a different story…

According to the International Civil Aviation Organisation, aviation has become the first ultra-safe transportation system in history. That means that for every ten million cycles (one cycle involves both a take-off and landing), there is less than one catastrophic failure. (1)

Each day there are close on 100,000 flights around the world. And at any moment in a 24 hour period there are between 15,500 and 17,500 planes in the air. (2)

How many of those make disaster stories for headline news? Maybe one a year, if that.

From 2002 to 2020, there were 614 serious injuries in US air travel, an average of 32 injuries per year. In that same 18-year period, 44 million people were injured in passenger cars and trucks on US highways — that’s approximately 2.3 million per year. (3)

But while each plane crash disaster receives extensive media coverage, car accidents – although a daily occurrence – seldom get a mention. This imbalance in media attention contributes to a skewed perception of the risk of flying.

But does knowing the facts about flying alleviate your fears? Probably not. And here’s why…

Why positive thinking won’t help you conquer your fear of flying

So, the stats tell us that flying is the safest mode of transport. But here’s the thing…

Your fear of flying is not controlled by the part of the brain that understands statistics (the left, logical brain). When your emotional, ‘survival’ brain kicks in, logic and stats go out of the window.

No amount of positive thinking can overide stong emotions such as anger and anxiety. (I talk about this more in my article about the failure of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

When strong emotions take over you are hypnotised, ‘locked in’ to the fight/flight/freeze response. This is a trance state, fuelled by adrenaline. Any thinking you do whilst in this state is catastrophic…

“What if there is terrible turbulance? What if I have another panic attack? Might there be a terrorist on board who will hijack the plane? What if the plane crashes and I never get to see my kids again?

fear of flying: man looking apprehensively out of window at airport
Image: Michael Walk

How fear of flying hijacks your brain

Of course, all those questions might be relevant. I say ‘might’. The fact is that you can never guarantee anything in life.

A better question to ask yourself is, “Who is asking the question?” Which part of your brain is asking those disaster-scenario questions? When the survival brain takes control it comes up with what I call ‘headline thinking’…

Attention grabbing big fat bold-type headlines…sensational life or death stories…emotive language that sucks you right in.

Modern media (including social media) doesn’t help as it’s fuelled by the very same tactics, namely hijack your attention by any means possible (usually with the bottom line of getting you drawn in to some sales funnel so that you’ll eventually part with your hard-earned cash).

RELATED CONTENT: How your attention has been hijacked by Big Tech and social media

Rather than the plane behind hijacked, what’s more worrying is how easily your brain is hijacked. When it comes to fear of flying your rational capabilities are overridden by the amygdala (part of the limbic system that controls your survival responses).

With half your brain shut down, it’s like trying to fly with one wing.

The first step to overcoming fear of flying

So, if knowing the stats and positive thinking doesn’t help, what’s going to get you on a plane feeling calm and looking forward to your flight?

If you have a history of troublesome flights where you felt anxious or had frightening panic attacks, these now serve as a template in your brain. In effect, your brain has associated flying with powerful, survival emotions based on previous experience.

So, if you’ve had previous ‘bad’ experiences of flying, the first thing you need to do is de-condition those memories. The best way to do this is in the hypnotic REM state (nature’s most powerful programming state).

Unlike talk therapies like CBT and fear of flying courses (which work only on a conscious level) hypnosis addresses the problem directly by re-programming the subconscious mind. Once the fear templates are switched off your rational brain comes back on board. At this point you not only know the facts and stats about flying, but you actually feel the truth of what those facts say.

In other words, it’s no longer a battle between your rational brain and survival brain. Both parts of the brain feel comfortable about flying – your rational brain and your emotional brain.


Are you a therapist? Learn the Rewind Technique used by highly skilled therapists to quickly de-condition panic attacks, phobias, PTSD, flashbacks, intrusive memories, sexual abuse, and more…

the Rewind Technique for PTSD and panic attacks

The importance of tolerating uncertainty

With old fear templates switched off, you’re free to enjoy every part of your travels…

The days building up to your holiday, the journey to the airport, waiting around in the lounge and boarding gates watching the world go by, and the flight itself. Excitement replaces nervousness, like an explorer about to embark on a journey to new lands.

But we can’t guarantee everything in life. Accidents do happen occasionally, just like in any area of life. Thus when it comes to your overcoming fear of flying, another important aspect is to learn to tolerate uncertainty.

As soon as your emotional brain stops running the show, you’re able to feel more comfortable in the grey areas of life, those spaces between black and white, all-or-nothing thinking. You can willingly step out of your comfort zone and into unfamiliar territory, like the heroes of old.

Just imagine the difference this would make to your next flight…

RELATED CONTENT: Read about the hero’s journey and how you can learn to deal with uncertainty

How to overcome fear of flying – summary

If you suffer from fear of flying I want you to know that things can change (without the need for alcohol, medication and the effort it takes to think positively). The survival brain can be switched off with the skilful use of hypnosis so that you can stay naturally calm and relaxed throughout the whole adventure.

And adventure is exactly what flying is…

Each flight, from a long-haul half way round the world to a short 45 minute flight to the next city, is another chapter in your life, another chance to make new memories whether it’s a trip of a lifetime or a journey to your next business meeting.

Once old fear templates are switched off you can embrace the uncertainty of adventure and confidently step into the Great Mystery of life itself.

At this point you know for certain that your fear of flying is over, finished with, consigned to the history books. The world really is your oyster.


If you need professional help to overcome your fear of flying book a Free Online Discovery Session to find out more.

Questions about how hypnosis works? See my hypnosis FAQ page or sign up to the free hypnosis course.

Can’t wait to see me? Check out this fear of flying hypnosis download to start reprogramming your subconscious mind straight away…

Notes

(1) International Civil Aviation Organisation stats: https://www.mcgill.ca/oss/article/you-asked-general-science/there-safer-time-fly#:~:text=According%20to%20the%20International%20Civil,less%20than%20one%20catastrophic%20failure

(2) More flying stats, this time from Travel and Leisure https://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/number-of-planes-in-air

(3) Is flying safer than driving? https://usafacts.org/articles/is-flying-safer-than-driving/

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