1. You’re constantly looking around to evaluate the facial expressions and body language of other flyers’ after every bump and sound. Was that loud hiss normal? According to the face of the lady next to me who didn’t even flinch, everything is peachy. Wait, was it just me or did the captain sound a little uneasy about the “rough air” we’re approaching? Is this much turbulence routine? Considering there are people calmly reading gossip magazines, I’ll assume that I should hold off on screaming “May day!” for right now. Basically a plane ride for terrified flyers is a time to think up all of the scariest worst case scenarios, and believe they’re probably going to happen to you any second.
2. You begin evaluating the ungraspable concept of a giant, heavy piece of machinery successfully gliding through the air and landing perfectly where it needs to. No, I’m not a physicist and no, I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn recently, so I don’t have any of the answers, but I have plenty of reasonable questions. I’m just wondering how so much more isn’t possible if airplanes are a thing that exists. Like, why do my grown-up vitamins have to be the size of a chubby toddler’s fingers and taste like hate, but a machine made of aluminum can fly in a controlled manner amongst the clouds, efficiently carrying a bunch of humans to various destinations.
3. Everyone thinks that it’s your first time flying, even when it’s not. Maybe you nervously fumbled the seatbelt or tightly clenched the armrest as takeoff commenced, or perhaps you were even on the brink of weeping—either way, your actions gave your neighbor the impression that it was a result of your thousands-of-feet-in-the-air-on-a-freaking-machine virginity being lost. Surely your antsy, anxious ways aren’t the tendencies of a person who’s flown before, right?… Wrong. They are. It’s not necessarily something you can adjust to. I’ve probably seen thousands of spiders and cockroaches in my life, every single one of which instilled a great deal of fear in me. Will I be well-adjusted 20 tarantulas from now? Absolutely not, and the same probably goes for plane rides.
4. Distractions are limited. As a nervous eater, the baby-sized handful of pretzels and two gulps of Coke are only a 30 second distraction from the fact that all you can see below is a dark, petrifying body of water. When our cellphones aren’t available, eating would make for a great distraction. AT&T is not functioning up here, can we have more food, please? We want more, we want more – like, we really like it, we want more.
5. Good sleep is essentially impossible. I once napped on the floor of a Geo Metro and it was better sleep than I’ve ever had on a plane. Whatever position you choose, from face against the window to tray out, head down, nothing seems to result in more than 30-second intervals of low quality sleep.
6. Sometimes a plane is your only option. If you want to see certain parts of the world, taking a plane may be the only viable choice for you to make. We can’t drive our way to every continent, and that’s unfortunate for those who want to travel the world, but aren’t fond of the flying process. Usually these flights are also the lengthier ones, forcing you to decide just how bad you want to visit specific places.
7. Someone will tell you that statistically, flying is safer than driving. We understand that, really, we do – but there are so many reasons why a car is more comfortable, starting with the fact that it isn’t thousands of feet in the air and four wheels joining forces with a motor to move along pavement is a feasible invention. Plus, we’ve seen, been inside of or operated cars for our entire lives, whereas the functionality of airplanes is a whole lot of mystery and unknown to most of us. I don’t care what the numbers say, you can’t convince me that a shaky aircraft 20,000 feet in the air isn’t less intimidating than a Toyota Corolla doing 65 on the highway.