A fear of flying is no fun at all. Whenever the subject comes up, the same old stats are trotted out, "You're far likelier to win the top prize in the lottery than be involved in a serious aviation incident"...."you've more chance of being hit by a bus than being in a plane crash" – that kind of thing. But for most people with the phobia, such stats don't help.
For those worst affected, it means never stepping on a plane, while for those who reluctantly go ahead and book a flight, it means days and possibly weeks of dark and stressful thoughts as the departure date approaches. At the very least, it means unspeakably clammy hands and a racing heart as you hurtle down the runway prior to take-off.
If you love foreign lands but suffer terribly with a fear of flying, have you ever thought about taking a course to try to calm those fears?
In the UK, both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic hold special courses to help those who want to tackle their phobia and enjoy their flights in a more peaceful frame of mind, whether it involves a holiday or a business trip.
British Airway's Flying With Confidence course has been running for over 25 years and to date has helped more than 45,000 nervous flyers. The airline claims its course has a 98 percent success rate in helping people to overcome their fear of flying.
Run by experienced British Airways pilots and crew, with additional input from a clinical psychologist, the one-day course costs from £259 – a price that includes a short flight at the end. Among many things, you'll learn about how an aircraft flies and operates, how it deals with turbulence, and how the pilots interact with air traffic control. You'll also be told about the various psychological aspects of aerophobia, and be taught a number of relaxation techniques to help control any nerves.
The day ends with a 45-minute flight, with the pilot giving a running commentary on the various stages of a typical flight – with all those strange noises you hear fully explained!
British Airways holds its course on a regular basis at several airports throughout the UK, including Heathrow, Gatwick and Glasgow. Click here for full details.
Virgin Atlantic's Flying Without Fear course costs from £255 and operates at airports such as Gatwick, Luton, Southampton, Manchester and Edinburgh. Virgin Atlantic describes its course as "open and friendly", with attendees free to ask questions throughout the various sessions.
Again, the day ends with a short flight with a full commentary from one of the pilots.
Run along very similar lines to British Airway's offering, Virgin Atlantic also claims a 98 percent success with attendees. For more information on its Flying Without Fear course, click here.
So how about it? If you're a nervous flyer and want to do something about it, these courses could be just the ticket in your quest for an altogether more relaxing experience in the skies.