Between 25 and 30% of people who fly suffer from some form of aviophobia. National airline Luxair has developed an acclaimed course to help tackle the fear of flying, and is now offering its seminars in English.
A fear of flying can manifest itself in many ways--from feeling nervous and unwell to a total break down and panic attack. But aviophobia itself doesn’t exist, says Jörg Wimpfheimer, a psychologist who leads sessions during Luxair’s Fly Without Fear courses. “People fear death or have a fear of heights or have agoraphobia or claustrophobia, and there are a lot of people who are afraid that they don’t have control,” he explains. “But once they have experienced one of these, they then develop a fear of that fear.”
Pilot Laurent Donteri, who has been flying for 16 years and has been a captain at Luxair for eight years, says that although around one-third of passengers who board aircraft are afraid of flying, there are many more whose fear is so great that they avoid flying altogether. Unsurprisingly, more women than men attend Luxair’s courses, because men are afraid of admitting their fear. “Statistics show that aviophobia affects men and women equally, but participants are divided two thirds to one third female to male.” Many women also develop a fear of flying as soon as they become mothers, says Donteri.
Anyone who faces a fear tries to avoid it. But there are thousands of different strategies that people use to manage their fear, says Wimpfheimer. “Men in particular might have a stiff drink to calm their nerves. But it can also be talking to the passenger sitting next to you, looking at a book or magazine without really reading, listening to music, taking medication like Xanax or Valium.”
But the surest method to effectively overcome a fear of flying for the long-term is to take Luxair’s two-day seminar, which is now being offered in English for the first time. A study by the University of Luxembourg after ten years of the courses revealed that over 90% of participants are still flying. However, it is important that the aviophobe is a willing participant, says Donteri. Luxair will not accept people who have been cajoled into taking the course by family or friends or even their employers. On the other hand, friends and family can pay to join course participants on the flight at the end of the two-days.
Luxair’s first English-language Fly Without Fear course is on 29 & 30 April, 2017. For more information, email: [email protected]