I don’t know if it’s because pilots think they’re funny or if they even realize that what they say can put anxious flyers like me in major panic mode. I’ve gotten much better on planes, I really have. I can actually have a moderately pleasant experience on a plane now like most normal people. But I’m going to Europe in a few short weeks, and that means more than seven whole hours on a plane over water. It gives me a little anxiety just thinking about it.
I’m preparing myself for the trip by practicing all my calming methods and downloading some new apps, which I learned about through The Points Guy. As much as I try to work on my reaction to certain situations while flying, I should also focus on proactively addressing what puts me in a tailspin to begin with.
I’m not the person who’s asleep or engrossed in a movie when you hear “this is your pilot speaking.” I’m the person promptly taking out their earbuds and paying close attention to whatever the pilot says.
Here are the top five things I’ve heard pilots say that put anxious flyers like me in panic mode.
Pilot says: We’re expecting turbulence the whole way, so there will be no beverage service on this flight.
Panic mode: Stunned face emoji! I’m immediately dying of thirst and think I might pass out because I’m dehydrated and need water. And to make matters worse, during turbulence is when I need a cocktail the most. So this means I’m either going to pass out from dehydration or from the stress of turbulence. Either way, we might have to make an emergency landing because of me.
Pilot says: We’re delayed due to a mechanical issue, but we have maintenance trying to figure it out. (5 minutes later) Looks like we’re cleared for take off.
Panic mode: Wait, what? Is the issue resolved? Did maintenance find anything? Are we getting on a new plane? Is this plane still broken? Are you sure? I don’t think the AC is working. Is this linked to the mechanical issue? I can wait. I’m in no rush. I’d rather wait than ride on a broken plane.
Pilot says: There’s bad weather at the airport, so we’re just going to circle around for a while before we can land.
Panic mode: “A while”? How long is that? I think I have to go to the bathroom. Yes, yes, I definitely have to go to the bathroom, but everyone, including the flight attendants, are prepared for landing, and the seatbelt sign is on. All our tray tables are up and bags are stowed. If I get up, I’ll surely be called out by a flight attendant. Then everyone will look at me and give me side eye and a disapproving head nod.
Pilot says: Flight attendants please take your seats.
Panic mode: Why tho? Is everything ok? Is there trouble? I’m sure we’re coming into some turbulence. I wonder if it’s going to be bad. Why isn’t the pilot saying anything about turbulence? They usually come back on and say something about turbulence. I wonder if it’s one of the uncommunicative pilots that doesn’t ever say anything to the people onboard. Ugh. Hate that.
Pilot says: We’re just going to roll the dice on this one.
Panic mode: By “we” you mean “you,” right? Get me off of this plane now. I’m not rolling the dice on anything. I’m not a plane dice-roller-type of person. I need a drink. I need water. Somebody give me something, anything. I need to get off this plane.
Actually, writing this post has helped me cope with some of these trigger phrases. Like I said, I’m much more at ease flying now than I ever have been. I’ve found that flying more often, practicing calming methods and knowing what to expect have all helped ease the stress of flying. What have you heard pilots say that put your anxiety level on high?