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How to Manage the Stress of Air Travel: From Ancient Airports to Space.

Traveling by plane can be an exciting experience. The ability to fly through the skies and reach distant destinations in just a few hours is a miracle of modern technology. However, flying can also be a source of stress for many. Whether it's due to outdated airports, long boarding queues, cramped spaces on board, or poor service, air travel can be exhausting. Here, we will examine these factors and suggest some strategies for managing the stress of air travel.

Ancient Airports

Airport infrastructure can vary greatly from one place to another. Some airports are modern and well-maintained, while others may seem a bit outdated. This can be a source of stress, especially when it comes to finding your way around the airport or dealing with facilities that may be less than ideal.

Recommendation: Do your research in advance. Knowing what you're up against can help you prepare mentally. It can also be helpful to arrive early to give yourself plenty of time to orient yourself.

Boarding Queues

Long lines for boarding the plane can be a significant source of stress. This process can seem never-ending, especially when you're anxious to reach your destination.

Recommendation: Bring something to distract yourself. Whether it's a book, a game on your phone, or simply music to listen to, having something to occupy your mind can make the time pass faster.

Cramped Spaces Onboard

The space on board an airplane can be quite limited, especially on long flights. This can be uncomfortable and cause stress, especially for those who are claustrophobic or simply enjoy their personal space.

Recommendation: Try to move around when possible. Stretching or walking down the aisle can help alleviate discomfort. Additionally, bringing comfort items such as a travel pillow or blanket can make the journey more comfortable.

Poor In-flight Service

Finally, in-flight service can be a source of frustration. Whether it's the quality of the food, the lack of entertainment options, or simply the attitude of the staff, it can be difficult to feel comfortable during the flight.

Recommendation: Try to be understanding. Remember that airline staff are doing their job under often challenging conditions. If you have an issue, try to communicate it in a respectful and understanding manner.

Traveling by plane can be a stressful experience, but with a little preparation and patience, it's possible to minimize stress and enjoy the journey. Remember, the travel is just a part of your adventure, so try to maintain a positive perspective.

Here are some additional tips for managing the stress of flying:

Know what to expect: Anticipating the unknown can cause anxiety during the flight. One of the simplest things travelers can do to prepare for their next flight is to find out what to expect when traveling from one point to another. By identifying important details of the journey, passengers can find some relief in knowing what to expect and better manage their stress levels along the way.

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before the flight: Drinking coffee or alcohol before boarding can increase anxiety levels and cause dehydration. It could also lead to nausea and headaches. Caffeine stimulates cognitive function, making your body more alert and attentive to the surroundings, which can increase nervousness.

Distract yourself from noises: Distraction is a proven way to prevent you from focusing on your fear and anxiety. Identify activities that deeply engage your mind and keep you focused on the task. You can try reading your favorite book, watching a funny movie, or solving puzzles to disconnect. Planning how you will spend your time on a flight can help you manage any anxiety during the flight.

Talk to the flight crew: If you are worried about things going out of control during the flight, try spending a minute or two with your pilot or flight attendant. Since your

anxiety is due to the fear of the unknown, getting to know the crew on your flight can reassure you that your safety is in experienced hands. Flight attendants are trained to create a friendly and warm environment, so sharing your nervousness and thoughts with them can keep your anxiety under control.

Choose an aisle seat: If the main cause of your anxiety is height or being confined in a small space, selecting your seat can help avoid those triggers. Selecting a comfortable seat is largely under your control, so you can request an aisle seat. This way, you'll have more open space to move around and can avoid the windows.

Learn breathing techniques: Regulating your breathing rhythm is another excellent way to combat anxiety during the flight. During flights, your heart rate increases, and your mind becomes disillusioned. Tactical breathing helps you combat these symptoms and keeps you focused. Maintain a relaxed posture and try taking a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds, and then exhale. This will slow down your heart rate and promote a sense of calm.

How to Manage the Stress of Flying: Effective Strategies for a Smooth Travel Experience

Flying can be a stressful experience for many, from the uncertainty of airports to the discomfort of being thousands of meters above the ground. Up to 40% of the general population experiences flight-related anxiety, often manifesting as irritability, nausea, disorientation, and flushed skin [1]. Here, we provide a series of strategies to help you manage the stress of air travel, taking into account airport waiting times, boarding queues, and onboard conditions.

Preparation Before the Flight

Anticipating what's to come can help alleviate pre-flight anxiety. Research answers to flight-related questions, such as how you will get to the airport, the check-in process, flight duration, and any expected turbulence. Bring along a comfort kit that includes water, wet wipes, snacks, chewing gum, eye drops, earplugs, and entertainment such as a book or a movie [1].

Avoid caffeine and alcohol before flying, as they can increase anxiety levels and cause dehydration [1].

At the Airport

Airports, such as Leeds Bradford Airport in the UK, recommend arriving 2-3 hours in advance to allow sufficient time for check-in and security checks [2]. If you have extra time, consider taking advantage of airport amenities to relax before the flight. This may include access to lounges or food and beverage services [2].

Onboard the Plane

Distract your mind from anxiety with activities that keep you focused, such as reading a book, watching a movie, or solving puzzles. You can also listen to relaxing music to block out the noises on the plane [1].

Talking to the flight crew can help you feel safer and alleviate anxiety [1]. If being in a small space or the height causes you stress, you can request an aisle seat to have a bit more room and avoid the windows [1].

Learning and practicing breathing techniques can also be helpful in managing anxiety during the flight [1]. Additionally, try to focus on positive thoughts and remember that anxiety doesn't equate to real danger [1].

Please note that this article does not specifically address poor in-flight service as it can vary widely among different airlines and is not something passengers can directly control. However, anticipating possible shortcomings and planning accordingly (e.g., bringing your own snacks or entertainment) can help reduce the stress that poor service might cause.

I hope these tips help you have a smoother and stress-free flight. Have a great trip!

Dr. Pablo Odeley Puente Fumero, MD


[1] Citation: Camacho, B. (2021). How to manage the stress of flying: effective strategies for a smooth travel experience. Medical News Today. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnew

[2] Citation: Leeds Bradford Airport. (n.d.). Passenger Advice. Retrieved from

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