Aerophobia: when the fear of flying is pathological

If the technological advances of the last 100 years have been noticed in any field, it is that of interconnection and globalization. Today we can be on the other side of the planet in a matter of hours, and we can even live in two countries at the same time, if the money allows. Passenger planes make this possible.

However, not everyone enjoys the benefits of international flights equally. People who are afraid of flying, or who are aerophobic, can go to extremes not to panic on the plane. and the stress that these types of experiences put on them.

What is aerophobia?

Aerophobia is a type of phobia in which what produces intense fear is the situation of seeing inside a plane that is flying or that may take off. What is scary is the idea that a plane crash can happen, which by its nature is associated with a very high risk of death.

however, not all cases of fear of flying are considered a sample of aerophobia. As in almost everything, there are varying degrees of intensity in fears, and aerophobia as such will only exist if the panic is so intense that it is a limiting factor in a person’s quality of life. .

Therefore, although it is estimated that around 25% of people are afraid of flying, the proportion of people with aerophobia is estimated to barely reach 10%.

Emotions take control of the phobia

Sometimes this fear goes further and even extends to planes which, for different reasons, will not fly, either because there is no regular flight or because they are imitations of airplanes and do not work, for example. In these cases, there is a generalization.

As with all types of phobias, this fear of flying is not based on a feeling of danger which is based on reasonable fears, but is fundamentally irrational. This occurs despite the fact that the in-flight safety measures are optimal..

Although reason understands aircraft safety guarantees, emotions follow a completely different path and often exert a great influence on the former, distorting and causing thoughts to appear almost delusional.

Symptoms of terror on airplanes

Among the symptoms of aerophobia are many of those that are typical of the rest of phobias:

  • Lots of sweating.
  • Increased heart rate and breathing.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Nausea.
  • Headache.
  • General agitation.

Causes of theft phobia

One of the elements that best explains the onset of aerophobia is the fact having experienced a traumatic event related to an aircraft in the past. This means that you may have been in a plane crash in first person, or seen one, or someone you know suffered as a result.

In other cases, aerophobia occurs when certain personality traits interfere with the way the situation is handled.

For example, people with a strong tendency to control may feel very stressed out at times when they have no control over what is going on, and flying on an airplane is one such context.

Likewise, a general propensity for anxiety leads us to analyze what is happening in the environment in order to find numerous clues that can be interpreted as indications of an accident about to occur. All of this leads to increased stress, which in turn keeps looking for false signs of danger.


The most common treatments for extreme fear of flying include gradual exposure to the situation that produces the terror.. The goal of this strategy is to create progressive desensitization.

In this way, by accompanying a person on a real or virtual level and letting them make small progress, the person learns to stop associating these situations with the extreme fear they usually produce.

The fear-producing situational awareness programs that are based on virtual reality are very useful because they are cheap and easy to perform without relying on the owners of a real aircraft, and also allow you to control everything that happens in what he wants. and end the session at any time.

Leave a Comment