Sunday, April 17, 2011


Pteromerhanophobia is a lot of letters that simply means fear of flying. Allow me to first reintroduce myself...Hi my name is Kay and I have a insane, irrational, extreme fear of flying....and I'm an alcoholic (kidding).

So background on first flight was at 2 weeks old, I started flying by myself at 5 ( aaahh the good ol' safe days) and I clock at least 15 personal trips per year. I LOVE traveling...I love the research, I love the anticipation, the shopping for the trip "looks" and obvi, I love the memories....butttttttt what I go through from take off to touchdown is a whole other story.

I'll paint the picture for you, and I forewarn you a lot of my "rituals" or theories might not make any sense, but whoever said fear was rational? It starts the morning of travel, I check the weather and then look up hoping for clear skies. In my head clear skies = no turbulence. I'm always cool on the way to the airport, but if I haven't already reserved my seat I'm panicking that all that might be left are seats in the back. Yes, there is special seating...Per my research, I know that sitting in the back of the plane is the safest. That's why the black box is in the back, but for me, the front of the plane is where it's at. No screeching engine noises, no stinky bathroom and less turbulence.
Regardless of my departure time, I go down my special contact list (you should feel honored to be on it) and start my last will and testament messages. You know the kind "if anything happens to me make sure they don't find my journals and oh, you can have my shot glass collection". I have the best friends and family because regardless of how long they've been on the special contact list they all respond like its the first time getting my frantic message.

And now it's time for...drinks!!! Could be a 6a flight or a 6p flight it doesn't's GOING DOWN. My drink of choice is a rum and coke. Some may like to pop a Xanax, but I prefer liquid confidence. It works quickly and is yummy on the way down. By "works quickly" I only mean takes off about 5% of the edge. I've had many a "Care Bear Stare" from other passengers that are shocked by my early morning drinks...I usually give those prudes a wink and a smile.

My first obstacle is always the take off. Just writing about this is making my hands clammy...bleh. The feeling of the plane accelerating down the runway...with hopes that the wind pattern kicks in as planned and takes that metal bird up...aaahhhh it's just not natural. Once up, I don't exhale until I hear the "ding, ding" that signifies that we're 10,000 feet above ground. If it's safe enough for iPads to be turned on, it's safe enough for me to let go of my neighbors hand. Which leads me to my next point....airplane besties! I'm sure many of you HATE sitting next to peeps like me. You paid your plane fare and are looking forward to checking out, taking a nap or catching up on some good reading...until you sit next to me. I'm pretty intuitive so I know who to mess with...the friendly neighbors that make small talk when stuffing their bags under the chair, the ones that compliment me or the ones that ask me about my reason for travel. After I identify prey, I go in for the kill... OK I'm lying, usually after I grab a thigh or damn near leap into your seat, its pretty hard not to become fast friends. Once, coming back from Italy, I sat in first class amongst a group of nuns. After the first bump of turbulence I had them launch into a full Rosary. I've met some amazing people as a result of my little fear and many of them I call friends to this day.

I love a chatty pilot. It really puts me at ease when the captain comes on and tells us where we are, how many mph we're going and what the expected turbulence levels will be. Once he turns the seat belt light off I'm as happy as a pig in shit! Now don't get it twisted, I'm never comfortable enough to sleep. I've NEVER slept on a longest flight thus far has been to Buenos Aires, Argentina - 11 hours overnight and I never so much as blinked too long. When everyone is deplaning refreshed and ready to hit the streets, I'm dragging and   ready for a quick nap.

The absolute best part of every flight is hearing the captain say "Flight attendants please prepare the cabin for arrival". It's like music to my ears. I can care less about the descent...just get me on the ground. I'm too excited to even know if its a rough way down.

I can't really pin point when this fear started... as a kid I couldn't wait to get my wing pin and sit in the cockpit (R.I.P Eastern Airlines). I do know that my love for travel always wins and that I'll never let this fear cripple me. I fully understand that flying is the safest way to travel, but until they convince me that planes don't fall out the sky, I'll carry on with my crack of dawn cocktails.

What are some of your travel rituals?!


Doneisha said...

Talk about irony. I am still cracking up with laughter because you are admitting what some of us try to deny. As one of the "special contact list" members, keep pinging and ringing whether it's 4am or 4pm so I can "toss one up". While I'm def NOT on your level, I certainly have my own flight goes

1. Whereas you sit in the front Kay, I'm with the black box ;)...if the seat number isn't in the "20's", I start to twitch.

2. AISLE SEAT, AISLE SEAT, AISLE SEAT. I need to be the one making the 1st move in case of emergency, so I have no problem being disturbed to release my row mates to the bathroom, no matter how many times.

3. I pass on the "pre-flight cocktail". With NO appetite on travel day, I do a "pre-flight fish tea" ala Island Grill (big up). By the time I get to my destination, safely of course, I've earned the right to gorge myself with food.

...and in case you are wondering my rituals are ALWAYS performed in that order, a ritual within the ritual...oy vey! LOL

BB said...

Aww boo, I definitely feel lucky to be on the "special contact list"! It's always interesting when I don't even know you're going somewhere to get the BBM message "Throw one up for me"! Like Doneisha, I don't care if it's 4am -- keep on pinging! :-)

For me, I don't really have a ritual although I *always* have the random "OH-EM-GEEEEE what if this plane crashes and my mom finds my (insert embarrassing object here!)" thought flash through my head that I have to wrestle into submission before takeoff! After that, I'm golden as I rest my head on the window (me gusta the window seat) and snooze. It doesn't matter how short the flight, I'm probably gonna catch a 'z'... or three. Lol.

Interestingly, I'm actually more freaked out by landing than taking off -- all those tons of steel coming down onto an immovable object makes me ever so nervous....