Need Advice from all You Seasoned Travelers on Turbulence...

Need Advice from all You Seasoned Travelers on Turbulence...


  • Total voters
    29

ewyckoff

New member
I'm hoping to connect with someone who may have had a similar experience to what keeps happening to me. I have some serious problems with turbulence. As an FYI, (1) I am an engineer by education and understand the laws of physics very well, (2) I have to fly 10-14 times each year between San Jose, CA and Denver, CO at all times of the year, (3) whenever I hit turbulence I totally lose it.

I know in my mind that the wing is the most stable place to sit and that it is just air pockets that no one else would even blink at, but something VERY wrong happens to me physically when the plane horizon starts to fluctuate back and forth and we experience drops akin to 'air potholes'. I usually hyperventilate until my lips and sometimes my whole face goes numb and start tearing up uncontrollably until I pass out and go limp in my seat. This of course causes all sort of problems when kids or other people see this happening - its incredibly embarrassing and I feel like crawling into a cave and hiding when it happens. My husband has suggested we see a doctor and look into some hard-core elephant tranquilizers or something when we know we'll have to fly in winter. Any suggestions beyond the basic physics-oriented explanations? Thanks,
-Erika
 

Lynda

New member
I hate turbulence but somehow we learn to live with it, it is part of flying.
I once tried Diazepam but I don't like the spaced out feeling.

If I was to tell you the one thing that helped me with turbulence the most it would be the glass of water trick.

Place a half glass of water on your table and just watch how much it moves, usually it is very little and this helps to put the movements in to perspective.
Do the same in your car and you will have very little left and a quite wet dashboard.

Slow down your breathing and you will feel better.
 

kucher

Lifetime Elite
I do have an avtivan perscription, however the 1mg does absolutly nothing for me. I tested it on my last flight and discoverd that I felt the same if I took it or not. I found having a stiff drink was way better!!!!
 

lynnhopes

New member
I took Valium on a few flights in the past and it worked beautifully. I swear the plane could have imploded and it would have been fine with me! However recently every single flight I get on has turbulence and I am now TERRIFIED to fly for this reason. Last trip I took 2 valium as the flight was turbulent the whole route from Ireland to the U.K. We couldn't move out of our seats the entire flight and on this flight the valium really didn't work at all.

I don't know why the valium didn't work, maybe my tolerance has built up. I am still searching for the answer. I have flown on my own for 9 years now and always been fine, but this recent series of bad flights has changed everything and now I am terrified of flying.
 

gmoran

Lifetime Elite
I am one of those people who is a pretty seasoned "road warrior" flying almost every week for my business. I was never afraid to fly at all ... in fact, was always far more uncomfortable in my car ... until a flight about 1.5 years ago from BWI-ALB where we flew through a terrible storm (we were the last flight out of BWI before they shut down). Many moderate and a couple severe pockets all the way only cushioned by constant light/moderate in between. People praying, crying, screaming, vomiting (vomiting included a flight attendant) ... the works. This started a fear for me that I never had before. But, I cannot (and will not) stop flying for business and pleasure.

First, it sounds as if something truly physical is happening to you. I have a close acquantance who suffers from Vertigo that has some similar affects though not with the same severity. Perhaps ask your doctor about an examination for vertigo. Second, as simple as it sounds, the water glass trick mentioned by someone else in this tread does work. (A half full glass of water on your tray to see the actual motion of the plane. It is rarely as bad as your sensation.) The other simply trick that I almost always use is to get a seat in either row 1 or the last row within eye sight of the flight attendants. My rule of thumb is that when I see concern on their faces (which I have NEVER including the vomiting FA who insisted she had an upset stomach before leaving), I will be concerned. They live with the reality of turbulence everyday.

My own remedy is a couple drinks after takeoff but it does not affect me in the same manner as you are experiencing (and this is only possible when I do not have meetings after landing).
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
Another way to look at it, is even during a turbulent flight, it's likely to be smoother than a car ride on a pothole filled road. Do the water trick in your car, and you'll be soaked, every time, and it'll be over 10 times a quick (550 mph vs 55mph).

And always try to sit near the wing, or up front. The back is the worst part.

Second, as simple as it sounds, the water glass trick mentioned by someone else in this tread does work. (A half full glass of water on your tray to see the actual motion of the plane. It is rarely as bad as your sensation.) The other simply trick that I almost always use is to get a seat in either row 1 or the last row within eye sight of the flight attendants.
 

flufferama

New member
And always try to sit near the wing, or up front. The back is the worst part.


Very true.
I actually worked as cabin crew for an airline for six months and never had any problems flying until one particularly nasty trip from Sydney to Singapore as a passenger.
We were seated in the last row and the captain had told us from the outset there would be some uncomfortable turbulence over Indonesia.
No problem, I thought.... until all crew were told to strap in and secure trollies and I was bouncing around down the back like a Jack in the box!

You definitely feel every bump down the back.

Fortunately, I got over my short spell of 'turbulence fear'.
Relaxation techniques work well, as does controlled breathing.
 

dilbert.rules

New member
Clinical Definition: You are FREAKING OUT. I used to freak out sometimes, too....nothing to be ashamed of.

Personally, I really don't like turbulence, but your issue is psychological - that doesn't make it less real to YOU, it just means there are other ways to control it. AMAZON.com has CD's by GLENN HARREL for fear of flying that I really liked.

Link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/19...11189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=1901923371

The CHEAPEST trick is the old water trick there - I've used that one a few times myself. ALso, NORTHWEST AIRLINES, DELTA, and SOUTHWEST really seem to try and get a smooth ride for you. WING is the best seat (Other than 1st class) and try to give yourself something else to do - not reading, which can confuse your brain, but TV is nice. I like apple iTunes TV on the laptop when I fly. Keeps me occupied.
 

daniel_T

New member
Hi there, I love to fly but cannot handle turbulence. I have only flown about 5 times in the past four years, but ever time I have, it has been fairly turbulent. Even the lightest turbulence can freak me out. What I do is put both my hands on the handrests, shut my eyes, and take deep breaths. That usually helps.

I took off out of Las Vegas this Past July 2007 into a massive thunderstorm. I actually started crying when we hit an air pocket and we dropped and the plane went straight up. Everyone went back in their seats and the G-forces made it so you couldn't move. Everyone let out this holler and we all gasped at what was happening. This one man tried getting up from his seat and the flight attendant had to yell at him to make him sit down. The F.A.fell down!!

So just take a deep breath, count to ten and you should be okay.
Daniel_T
 
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Brave

New member
Relief Band

Relief Band

Recently, an herbalist concocted some formula that was supposed to knock me out, but it didn't work. So far, the Relief Band has been the best remedy to counter fear. Do a Google search, most seem to swear by it.
 
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monkeyshaved

Lifetime Elite
Valium certainly helps with the pre-flight nerves in my case, and a swift gin and tonic once underway doesn't hurt either (NB. I'm not advocating mixing drugs and booze!). The only bummer is if you need to drive or attend a meeting once you land...

But, as an example, in the last few days I flew 2 hrs out on holiday and needed Valium for a relatively smooth flight in daylight (my preference), and took nothing for the equivalent night flight back. Maybe its down to how "brave" you are feeling at the time, or how well you can keep the anxiety under control.
 

pepper7428

New member
xanax :) it helps a lot with anxiety.
i am a nervous flyer but i have become better over the years.
And yes, that included a trip to the hypnotist (don't knock it until you try it!).
And I think the majority of my issue is the fact that i'm not in control and that i'm having somebody that i don't know, fly the plane. But as my mom (she used to be a flight attendant ) says, (and i'm sure a milliion other people).
"do you think the pilot wants to die?" Answer: no :)
Keep nice controlled breathing. turbulence is my biggest fear, but you know what, after flying for 34 years, i'm still here! panicking won't make the turbulence go away....i think half the time, us nervous flyers make out the turbulence on a flight to be worse than it really is :) i can't tell you the amount of times, i thought the flight was so turbulent, yet looking around, i was the only one panicking, ignoring my book, turning off my ipod, and waiting for some instruction from the pilot!!!!!!!
 

tb_neg

Administrator
Staff member
Hello everyone. I have yet to write a full review, but I requested and got a review copy of this CD direct from the author (linked below). It's a bit timely since I myself have a flight coming up in February, it will be the first time I've flown in over a year. As they say, physician, heal thyself.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1901923371...iveASIN=1901923371&adid=1G5RPC09WT2J9K8GEYQ5&

I just listened to it last night, and I think it might help some of you, if you have an open mind. I'll be posting a full review on the blog next week.

Basically though, it's a hypnosis CD that goes through some relaxation techniques and positive reinforcement. I feel if you let your self be swayed by it, it might be helpful, but if you don't believe in such things, or don't want it to work for you, it probably will not.

Stay tuned for a full review, coming soon. Link below.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1901923371...iveASIN=1901923371&adid=1G5RPC09WT2J9K8GEYQ5&
 

6threplicant

New member
I usually hyperventilate until my lips and sometimes my whole face goes numb and start tearing up uncontrollably until I pass out and go limp in my seat. This of course causes all sort of problems when kids or other people see this happening - its incredibly embarrassing and I feel like crawling into a cave and hiding when it happens. My husband has suggested we see a doctor and look into some hard-core elephant tranquilizers or something when we know we'll have to fly in winter. Any suggestions beyond the basic physics-oriented explanations?
-Erika

Sounds like you go into panic attack mode when your plane hits turbulence. Welcome to the club...:frown: . I know exactly how you feel. I'd recommend: (a) a good book on how to overcome panic attacks, (b) a good read on fear of flying, and (c) Ativan.

It is also a good practice to think as positively as you can when this is happening. Try to remind yourself that this is a normal human response that is simply happening out of context (it'd be a bad thing if you didn't have it). Personally, the kind of thinking that has helped me the most is: (1) "I might not be in control of turbulence, but I sure am in control of how I want to feel", (2) "it's only temporary; and it will go away", (3) "I deserve to feel good", and my personal favourite (4) "so what?"

My wife's coaching and empathy through the process also helps a lot. You are not alone. You WILL make it. By the way, I'm an engineer too :) .
 

matsharris

New member
My Remedy

My Remedy

First, I've never thought of taking medicine since I feel that it would compromise my ability to see what's happening, though I know I have no control over turbulence.

Second, I have found my own little trick to overcome bouts of turbulence. In my mind I rate how I think the turbulance is on a scale of 1 to 5. I usually find that I tell myself bad turbulence is a 3, and I rarely if ever subjectively rate it a 4 and never a 5. 2 would be moderate, and 1 light chop. It's a neat way to sooth your mind.
 

easr

Lifetime Elite
I have taken Xanax, and then when pregnant/nursing, Ativan. Both have helped me tremendously. My issue is generally the anticipation of having a bad flight, and since X & A are anti-anxiety drugs, they really help take the edge off enough to make me much more relaxed. For long-haul flights I usually increase the dosage a bit and it helps me sleep.
 

mimi

New member
I'm also a nervous flyer, but I've gotten better about dealing with turbulence. My plan of attack when mild turbulence hits is to take several deep, slow breaths, evenly spacing them out. I also pop in a piece of chewing gum...the chewing mechanism and the flavor of the gum calms me down.

I also bring some essential oils for aromatherapy, which surprisingly works pretty well. I use Olba's oil (which you can find at Whole Foods or any other store dealing in Natural/Organic foods and products). The minty smell calms me down immediately and kind of distracts you a little from the turbulence. It also helps block the smell of when people start getting sick.

I also press on some accupressure points on my hands and wrist, which gives my hands something to do (if I'm not grabbing the armrests!).

When turbulence hits, I tell myself that it won't last longer than 5 minutes, which is usually the case. Mentally looking forward to a smoother patch of air helps a bit too :)
 

ksjhawk

New member
I've been there for years. Met with a counselor and listened to the CD, Flying without Fear and did two relaxation sessions. I don't overthink why it worked, but it has helped greatly.

I still hate turbulenece, but I handle it pretty good for domestic flights. I still take Ambien for transatlantic - mostly to kill time, but also to avoid dealing with the turbulence (like I had from ATL to Malpensa in 2005 when somewhere over or off the NC coast it felt like the hand of God knocked the left side of the plane. I still tend to sit as far forward as possible, b/c I'm convinced the turbulence is less.
 

tropheuss

New member
i go nuts as well when it comes to turbulence. in fact, just talking about it makes my hands sweat. my fear was triggered on a very bad flight from MIA to SFO where we were tossed around, people screaming and the whole bit. after that, i promised myself i wouldn't subject myself to flying again.

unfortunately, i had to make a living and my job had me running divisions in separate cities so every other week i went back and forth from JFK to SFO. thus - the need to find solutions to cope (particularly over the mountains where it can get really bumpy) became a real necessity.

this has what helped me:

1/ i check this website to see if there is large occurrences of mod to higher turbulence based on the flight path i see via flightaware on prior flights. i weight higher data points that are of commercial jet liners over smaller planes more. i have chosen _not_ to fly if there is > mod turbulence in the path. having some knowledge helps me; i.e. when to expect turbulence and when to time #2. oh yeah, i also try to fly on 777's - i just feel more comfortable knowing i'm on a more modern plane w/ a more durable wing and lateral turbulence attenuation features.

2/ i have tried various benzo class anti anxiety pills. the one that works for me is klonopin (generic: clonazepam). it is similar to valium and other anxiety medications that take about 20min to kick in. you should experiment w/ dosage and as prescribed by your doc _prior_ to engaging on your flight. you should also understand the effects w/ alcohol (i tend to drink more on planes since i try to 'take the edge off' turb fears) as the last thing you want to have happen is OD'ing on anxiety pills 35k ft in the air. vallium didn't work for me, but klonopin did - everyone's different but the effect it had on me was similar to someone else on this board - you kind of stop caring what happens around you.

3/ other ways i have coped was to try to convince myself that I enjoyed the turbulence and to listen to hip hop / rock and 'roll with the punches' so to speak. another thing i do to cope is to keep telling myself that turbulence is expected and if there are sections of non-bumpiness than that's 'out of the ordinary' versus the other way around. also, it really helps to travel in the front of the plane. one of my friends (who stopped flying completely for the past 10 yrs and just started up again) copes by looking outside and thinking how great it is that he is flying and how amazing flying is. he also recommended i read 'the art of happiness by the dali lama' although i have yet to get to this, which speaks to confronting fears and understanding why they persist

4/ over time, i started getting more numb to it, but i'm still freaked out. each time i go through mod or worse turbulence, i just keep thinking that i'm making progress toward my goal of being able to fly fear free again and how great it would be to have another notch under my belt toward my goal and be like my old self (i used to have an int'l job having me fly half way across the world and around each region at least once a month). i think of all the great vacations I can take to explore new places and of all the great relationships i'll build in business being able to see ppl face-face

5/ to each his own, but my fear of turbulence stems from the lack of control of being in an enclosed space and being unaware and able to control what's happening up front and the world around me. i tend to have a difficult time 'trusting people' and always try to 'manifest my destiny' - i.e. defensive driving, buying safe cars, healthy living, etc. etc. turbulence / air incidents hit home to me b/c you can't control the events - you're subject to the weather, the competency of the pilot and mechanical integrity of the plane; none of which you control. but, i started thinking about all the other things i can't control in guaranteeing my safety, i.e. crazies on the road, shootings in the schools, crossing the street w/ drivers running reds - you get the point - i couldn't _guarantee_ safety but I could maximize the likelihood of that and that is the best that I can do. what that means is, not flying in bad weather, being on a more modern plane, using turbulenceforecast to see weather maps and PIREPs. after that - you just gotta let go!

anyway, my 2cents
 

Brave

New member
The one thing about checking this site, the weather, etc., is that even if all signs point to a bumpy flight, there's very little I can do about it as the flight is booked. That is, I usually only fly for work, so the meeting or event is set in stone.

I've used some of your psychological tricks, and many others, every bit helps. Another is wrapping a blanket around your legs, a "security blanket" so to speak. I also break the flight into phases: ascent, cruising, decent (can be broken into initial and final.) Each has their pattern traits.
 
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