Becky says things about … fear of flying

Yasas from a remote cove somewhere in Greece, most precious and distant Listener. I hope you are in fine health and jovial spirits.

I am thoroughly enjoying my holiday in Greece, thank you. I thoroughly enjoy being in any place where I can sit and stare at a 90 year-old fisherman’s bottom poking out of his shorts as he bends over to tend to his boat for an hour. Who wouldn’t?


What I don’t enjoy, my loveliest listeners, is the mode of transport I must utilise in order to get here.

Let me tell you how much I dislike flying: I would rather lie naked under a rhinoceros with unpredictable bowels than get on a plane.


In my fearful little brain, me boarding a plane and me approaching an ill-humoured bull, calling it a smelly idiot, punching it in the face, then donning a red shell suit and standing in front of it, will have the same result: I will definitely die.


If, by some miraculous good fortune, the plane’s wheels don’t burst on a piece of debris that fell off the plane in front and we career off the runway in a blazing ball of flames and body parts, then one of the following Death Events will certainly occur: Death by birds sucked into engines, Death by plane wings falling off, Death by power failure, Death by lack of oxygen, Death by random explosion, or, perhaps the most unfortunate of aviation deaths, Death by choking on a forkful of quivering, gelatinous scrambled egg on an otherwise safe and uneventful flight.


An irrational fear? A rational fear? I don’t care what it is; the simple fact is that my brain does not currently have the ability to comprehend how a huge metal tube can fly me and many, many other people to my destination without something going horrendously and irreversibly wrong.


I’ve learnt to cope with this fear over the years – inasmuch as curling up into the foetal position, stuffing my fingers in my ears and crying constitutes “coping” with anything – and fortunately the fear loses against my determination to continue to travel.

However, as well as having to cope with this chronic and traumatic fear of instant and pulverising death, one must also contend with those Things That Happen on a Plane That in No Way Help to Alleviate Your Fears or Calm Your Nerves But Instead Make You Want to Commit Aviation Genocide and Scream:

1. Noises.   

You KNOW in your heart that that whirring sound you hear when you first board the plane is just the air conditioning or general harmless mechanical noises, but your fear-addled brain tells you it is SOMETHING GOING DRAMATICALLY WRONG WITH THE PLANE AND THERE IS A FLURRY OF PEOPLE UNDERNEATH YOU DESPERATELY TRYING TO FIX THIS PROBLEM BEFORE IT KILLS YOU ALL. 


And you KNOW that that hideous cranking noise just after take-off that sounds exactly like a major piece of the aircraft falling off and hurtling to the ground, is simply the wheels tucking themselves neatly back into their compartment – but unfortunately, your fear-consumed brain tells you that A MAJOR PIECE OF THE AIRCRAFT HAS JUST FALLEN OFF AND HURTLED TO THE GROUND AND WE WILL DIE AS A CONSEQUENCE. Because that is precisely what it sounds like.

(Note to any listeners who make airplanes: PLEASE do something about this. ANYTHING would be better than listening to the wheels-tucking-themselves-back-where-they-belong sound.)


2.    Children and Babies

I understand that children and babies are not silent creatures. I understand that, despite the efforts of the leathery old sow in front of me who yelled ‘Shut up!’ down the cabin to a crying baby, the baby in question is not going to respond thus:


However, when one is faced with the certainty of imminent death, the last thing one needs is babies screaming and playful 5 year olds making the following comment on the plane’s noises: ‘What was that sound, Mummy? The plane’s broken! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha the plane’s broken!’

Not funny. Not funny at all.

3.  Difficult Passengers

One wants to relax before Certain Death. One does not need to be riled by the aforementioned leathery old sow making loud demands for gins and tonic (at 8.30am no less), or saying to the person in front of her ‘Excuse me, but I think you’re abominably rude to put your seat so far back into my lap,’ and then proceeding to put her seat so far back into my lap that I was practically eating breakfast off her head.


Nor do I need to be vexed by a nearby passenger saying this to a stewardess:


Yes, that really happened. The stewardess deserves the ‘Diplomacy in the Air’ Award for not replying ‘Yes that’s fine. In fact, why don’t we stop off in Munich and get you some strudel?’

We’d all like an omelette or some strudel. None of us enjoyed the food. But your ludicrous demand has only served to increase my stress levels and pique my ire. Stop it.

4.  Turbulence

You know that planes don’t just fall out of the sky. You know that turbulence is just ‘bumpy air’ (what the ruddy hellfire is ‘bumpy air’????). But when you are suddenly thrown from your seat and the woman behind you starts saying the Lord’s Prayer, it does absolutely NOTHING to reduce your conviction that YOUR DEATH IS ON THE VERY IMMEDIATE AGENDA.


If I can offer you one piece of turbulence-related advice, it is this: do NOT look at the faces of the stewards. Your frantic search for comfort in a calm, smiling face will backfire spectacularly if the steward has


written all over their face. It happened on a flight from New York. I didn’t enjoy it.


Other than all that, I love flying.

46 thoughts on “Becky says things about … fear of flying

  1. I guess you echoed everyone’s intermittent thoughts on Certain Death while flying. So now i know i’m not crazy to have thought about all of that.

  2. Thank you thank you for validating my fears. Whenever I board a plane, I too marvel at the complacency of the passengers around me at the prospect of their imminent deaths. I am currently looking into getting drugs (or general anaesthesia) for my flight to the midwest next month. Your illustrations are awesome, btw!

    1. Haha, I spend most of the flight marvelling at the complacency and sheer BLINDNESS of the other passengers in the face of Certain Death. How can they be so blasé about their looming demise?
      Notwithstanding that, flying is perfectly safe and you’ll be absolutely fine on your flight. 🙂
      Thank you for reading!

  3. It should be international aviation law that flight attendants must always smile no matter what, just like in the safety videos where they’re strapping their oxygen masks on.

    1. That is a blinding idea. Who do we need to write to to get this put into place? The exits are here, here, and here, and this is my smile WHICH WILL NEVER LEAVE MY FACE.

  4. I was torn between laughter and fear reading this. I HATE flying…HATE IT, but I have to do it. When people say you’re more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash, that really doesn’t help at all. There are more cars on the road than planes in the sky so OBVIOUSLY that’s more likely. But speaking of odds, you very rarely hear of plane crashes, and there are a bunch of flights every day so I guess that makes me feel better… … …

    1. I TOTALLY agree on the ‘you’re more likely to die in a car crash than a plane crash’ thing. Well OF COURSE I AM. I get in a car LITERALLY EVERY DAY. But the car does not FLY.
      But you’re right, it’s a very safe form of transport, and we all just have to be sensible and not let our imaginations run away with us. 😉

  5. The worst part about flying are the other passengers…oh and the possible crashing and stuff, but the other passengers can be very annoying.

  6. more about the abominable food, please. (haha, that’s ok, don’t need to know) Crazy that someone really asked for an omelette. How DID the stewardess respond? You have an extremely active imagination, Becky. Curious: Does Stick fly with you or do you check him with baggage?

    1. The stewardess was dumbfounded, bless her, and just said ‘Er… no, I’m afraid I can’t’. What else do you say to such a ridiculous question?!?! I mean, where did they think they were???
      Stickman wanted to fly 1st Class, but I soon put a stop to that, and simply folded him up and put him in my hand luggage.
      Thanks for reading Liz 🙂

  7. My partner shares your fears, however as avid travelers who live on an island we often find ourselves in the air en route to our destination. I actually enjoy the odd bit of turbulence, is that crazy? Loved the spoon drawing, cracked me up!

    1. I know lots of people who enjoy turbulence. I really, really don’t understand. You may as well tell me you enjoy having a tooth pulled out. I DON’T GET IT. 😉
      Glad you liked the spoon drawing, I think that one was my favourite too! 🙂

  8. This is absolutely spot on. I have a complete meltdown EVERY TIME that the landing gear goes up or down. We’re talking a loud gasp, gripping of my arm rests, panicked looks everywhere meltdown.

    Yet, despite flying sending me into an hours long panic attack, I insist on booking long-haul flights constantly because I’m addicted to traveling.

    It’s a vicious cycle that is certainly going to put me into an early grave — either from plane crash or, much more likely, from flight-related anxiety.

  9. These are some of the many reasons I have not been on a holiday in 8 yrs. Good to know it’s not just me.

    1. Nope, not just you at all. I’ve started reading Alan Carr’s The Easy Way to Enjoy Flying, and so far it’s making me look at things differently and is actually really helping. Search for it on Amazon, it might help! No one should deny themselves a holiday. Go for it! 🙂

      1. Thank you. Now looking it up. Was considering alternative travel, like a cruise ship…even though I am scared of large bodies of water (anything bigger than a bath).

  10. If you want to give me your tickets next time so that you don’t have to worry about flying, I’d be fine with that 🙂

    I’d like to see the stats on per capita deaths for rhinoceros-induced squishings for people who come into contact with rhinoceroses, and compare that to airplane-related deaths for people who come into contact with planes. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rhinoceroses were the true culprit! 🙂

  11. This is sooo funny! I love it. I’m also terrified about turbulence! It’s not fun at all, I’m not sure how people can think that spotty deathtrap air is somehow fun! I’m more scared of the passengers than the plane sometimes the way some of them act! Yes, its perfectly fine for you to put your seat back! I’d love to have your body laying on my lap for a four hour plane ride! 😀

    1. ‘Spotty deathtrap air’. That’s EXACTLY how turbulence should be described from now on. That has made me snort with mirth into my coffee. 🙂
      Thank you for reading!

  12. Good lord, this made me laugh. I know I shouldn’t laugh at your stories of potential imminent demise and all, but I couldn’t help it. The sound of the wheels retracting is the one that gets me every time. I *know* what it is, but my first thought is always “That’s an engine falling off.” And don’t get me started on air pockets, where the air pressure changes and the plane just DROPS a few thousand feet. No. Very very bad.

    Having said all that, I hope you’re having a lovely time. Greece is beautiful. Maybe you can sail back home? You know, except for the horrific ocean storms and cracks in the hull of the ship and stuff.

    1. Dropping a few thousand feet is AWFUL. WHY DOES THAT NEED TO HAPPEN? Urgh. And I did fly back from Greece, avoiding terrible demise, and arrived safely back in England where I shall have a word with myself about not being so utterly terrified next time.
      Glad it made you laugh 🙂

  13. At least you don’t have sweaty TSA agents named Earl, with brutish clumsy hands, who seem to think you have an explosive device on your person, and it must be somewhere in the vicinity of your groin.

  14. I feel exactly the same way about flying as you! I jump at every weird noise and I especially hate those huge 747 take offs where the entire plane rattles and shakes. Can I narrate for my blog?

  15. Thankfully I’ve never had the “pleasure” of hearing noises on a plane, but I have experienced turbulence and annoying passengers rolled into one. At one point the plane was shaking somewhat badly and an old lady next to me started crying and clutching my arms and wailing stuff like, “Pray! Pray for our deliverance!” Uhm. Yep.

    Plane food has always been good to me though! My favourite meal will always be the juicy salmon slathered with white sauce and served with yummy steamed veggies. =D

  16. Listen to the Radio 2 comedy Cabin Pressure – it’s on youtube. They’re so blase about flying it’s really comforting. Also, you get to listen to Benedict Cumberbatch.

      Sorry for shouting. Got over-excited.
      Thank you for reading and glad I made you appear to be mentally ill 🙂

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