Fitness to Fly

Air travel and your health.


Flying with a medical condition? You may need to apply for medical clearance, or a MEDIF form.

What is a phobia?

A phobia is severe worry or panic about certain activities, objects or situations. The most Common Phobias are:

1. Mysophobia- fear of germs or dirt

2. Social phobias- fear of social situations and people

3. Trypanophobia- fear of injections

4. Acrophobia: fear of heights

5. Cynophobia- fear of dogs

6. Agoraphobia- fear of not being able to escape

7. Nyctophobia- fear of the dark

What is aerophobia?

Aerophobia is a serious fear of flying. People with aerophobia can be nervous about various aspects of flying, such as taking off, landing, or closing an airplane. You may know that your fear is unfounded - statistics show that air travel has the lowest mortality rate among other modes of transport - but you cannot justify your journey with fear. Another name for this condition is aviophobia. Most people with aerophobia are never afraid of a plane crash.

Signs and symptoms

People with a fear of flying may experience serious, lingering fear or anxiety when considering flying. They avoid flying when they can. Anxiety and avoidance can cause great discomfort and impair their ability to function. Takeoff, bad weather and turbulence seem to be the most troubling aspects of flying. The most serious manifestations may include panic attacks or vomiting while looking at or traveling by plane or talking about them. As many as 60% of people with flight anxiety report other anxiety disorders.

Causes of aerophobia

There is no specific cause of aerophobia, because fear often comes from a combination of factors. Fear of altitude can be genetically inherited or fear of flying can be modeled by parents. Increased media exposure to air accidents or other incidents can also play a role.2 People are often afraid to fly because they feel they have no control over the situation and their safety.

The longer a person avoids flying, the greater this fear will increase. Sometimes this fear is associated with other phobias, such as fear of vomiting (emetophobia), fear of heights (acrophobia) or fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia). Sometimes working on these specific phobias can help solve aerophobia.

How to treat aerophobia?

 Aerophobia is usually treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A strong fear of flying can be treated with anxiety medications. This condition can be treated with exposure therapy, including the use of virtual reality devices that work better in combination with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Relaxation techniques and aircraft safety training can also help in combination with other techniques. A new and advanced treatment for aviophobia is virtual reality exposure therapy. This type of treatment uses computer technology, where the patient encounters virtual reality while running. Talk to your doctor to find the best treatment option.