Business Travel Blues? 3 Tips For Coping With a Fear of Flying
If business trips represent one of your main sources of stress as an entrepreneur, chances are 2014 has been particularly stressful.
Global spending on business travel is projected to rise about 7 percent this year, with U.S. travel rising 3 percent, to more than $292 billion, according to data from the Global Business Travel Association cited by The New York Times.
At the same time, recent events around the world are only making travel-related anxiety worse. Last Thursday's crash of an Air Algérie flight en route from Burkina Faso to Algiers marked the latest tragedy in a horrible seven-day stretch for the aviation industry. The crash of Air Algérie Flight 5017, which had 110 passengers on board, followed the crash of TransAsia Airways Flight 222 in Taiwan the day before, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine the previous week, and the brief suspension of all air travel to and from Tel Aviv, Israel due to incoming rockets from Gaza.
"All this news is so sad, and yet I'm not frightened to get on a plane," says New York-based flight attendant Heather Poole, author of New York Times bestseller "Cruising Attitude."
"I remind passengers that I wouldn't do the job if I didn't feel it was safe." Poole, who works for a major U.S. airline, says fearful flyers can take a number steps to deal with travel-related anxiety. Here are three:
Tell the flight crew
Some passengers are embarrassed to admit to a fear of flying, but it's the flight crew's job to help, and flight attendants are happy to do so, Poole says.
Sit at the front of the plane
Turbulence is responsible for the vast majority of in-flight anxiety, according to Poole, so fearful passengers should choose seats at the front of the plane, where it's less bumpy. There's also an app called My Radar that shows passengers when turbulence is coming. "If you can see it on your phone and you know it's coming, that helps," Poole says.
Pay to board first
If you know you're going to need your carry-on bag during a flight, paying to board first (or flying an airline where your frequent-flyer status allows you to board first for free) can ensure that your bag doesn't get checked because the overhead compartments are full. It will also make the entire boarding process less stressful.
While entrepreneurs with even a small fear of flying may feel increasingly anxious during business travel these days, the data show that air travel is actually safer than it's ever been.
As airline Captain John Cox, also the chief executive officer of Washington-based aviation consulting firm Safety Operating Systems, told Voice of America recently, "We flew 3.3 billion passengers last year. We had the lowest fatality rate in recorded history. These tragedies do not change the fact of the safety of our aviation system."
Air travel can certainly be stressful and mentally taxing, but before you let a fear of flying disrupt your business travel plans, consider these techniques.