My Story with Flight Anxiety and How I Overcome it
Imagine the feeling of a child swimming in the middle of a pool after watching Jaws and someone screaming “shark!” as a joke. That’s the type of panic I feel when I’m on an airplane. The image of looking out from the plane window and seeing complete darkness - it sends chills down my spine.
I started flying when I was little girl - scratch that - when I was a baby. My mother took me to San Francisco when I was 4 months old. She told me that I got a really bad diaper rash. Maybe that was a foretell of all the terrible flight experiences I would have in the future.
When I would go on family trips as a kid, I would see both my mother and father get really nervous before flights. I remember how my mom would request for a glass of wine to drink before takeoff to fight her nerves. I think those images stuck to my mind, so even as I grew older, my fear of flying really stayed with me. Well, that in addition to my love of watching TV shows like Seconds Before Disaster and I shouldn’t be Alive, which, looking back, probably wasn’t the best move on my part.
It got really bad in 2016, when I started joining my husband’s campaign trips. We would ride helicopters, and before you tell me how glamorous it seemed, I’m gonna stop you right there – it was most definitely not. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed hopping from one province to another, meeting new people and trying out new delicacies. The only problem was the actual transit. We rode helicopters with no air-conditioning, no earplugs, and no GPS. Having no aircon meant we had to keep the window a little open - terrifying. And having no ear plugs made me hear the deafening roars of the engine - more terrifying. I would bring two pillows to block each side of my head, both to drown out the noise and to comfort myself by thinking that if the helicopter crashed, the two pillows could somehow break my fall. Believe me, I thought of the worst-case scenarios and lost all rational thought out of plain fear. We did this for 90 days, flying from one province to another. You have no idea how many rosaries I prayed.
Unfortunately, flying is an unavoidable part of my career. Plus, I happen to love travelling. Over the years, I’ve found a couple of ways that have really helped me cope with my flight anxiety.
First, I bring a complete kit of all the amenities I need for flying. This includes a few toiletries, a comfortable sleeping mask, and other little “abubots” that I like to travel with. One essential is this menthol roller which I smell and rub on certain pulse points. It gives this calming sensation all over my body and I feel relaxed almost instantly. It honestly works like magic!
Second, I always use the plane’s in-flight entertainment system. I listen to music and watch movies and television shows non-stop throughout the whole flight. It’s pretty much a foolproof way to distract myself from the every fear I have when flying (as in, it keeps me from looking out to see the pitch black darkness outside my window!)
Finally - and this is the best tip that I can give to other people with flight anxiety too - be picky with the airline you fly with. Stepping into a plane and knowing that you’re flying with a company that’s trustworthy can already alleviate so much of the anxiety you feel. That’s why I choose to fly with Cathay Pacific. They tick off every box I have on my checklist for comfortable flying. Good amenities – check! A good in-flight entertainment system - also check! In fact, the little pouch they give me on the plane is my favorite because it’s complete with everything I need. It’s stuffed to the brim with quality products from really good brands. I get excited to go through the loot every time I get on the plane - like a kid going through a goody bag! Also, the entertainment system of Cathay Pacific is always updated. I never have trouble finding something to watch or to listen to. If I want to watch my long-time favorite movies, they have it; if I want to watch new movies which I’ve never seen before, they have it too! Knowing how much thought Cathay Pacific puts into details like those makes such a big difference for me.
Moving on, I can’t write about how much I love flying with Cathay Pacific without mentioning their amazing staff. The flight attendants in Cathay Pacific are absolutely wonderful! I’m happy that a lot of them are actually Filipino. For me, it’s always such a warm feeling to know that you’re surrounded by fellow Pinoys when you’re in a foreign place. But besides that, the Cathay Pacific attendants consistently give the most accommodating service. I’d like to give a special mention to Miss Joanne, who was so sweet and gave me a bunch of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue magazines on one of my flights.
I’d love to hear you guys out on your experiences with flying. Do you have flight anxiety too? Let me know what you do to conquer it because hey, we’re in this together!
And before I end this, I’d like to give Cathay Pacific one big thank you for being a fantastic airline to travel with. It really is a #LifeWellTravelled when flying with Cathay. :)