Here’s the thing…I’m not scared of the concept of flying, as such. I simply dread the idea of being forced to remain seated for a long period of time. I think if you met me, you’d instantly understand.
Considering this will be my first solo long-haul flight, and being an already nervous flyer, I’m consumed by fears of worst case scenarios. I have flown by myself before, but I’m talking a quick trip to Dublin, this is ten hours on my own.
For me, the ultimate worst case scenario would be being seated next to an unfriendly/unconscious flyer who has no intention of offering any form of reassurance to me for the forthcoming flight.
I’m not asking for much though, really. I am just holding out for a cheery face to greet me as I take my seat. They don’t have to be the next John Candy, I don’t want my ear chewed off, although I would take that kind of a human over a unsympathetic, stone-faced, expert flyer, any day.
If I get the immediate impression that my seat sharing companion will not be partaking in some casual and (for me) calming conversation, or even if they seem like the sort of person who will make me feel uncomfortable about asking to pass them to pee, my only option will be to befriend one of the more approachable looking hostesses and beg for them to rethink the entire flight’s seating plan.
On the whole I don’t really consider myself an irrational person, I just happen to have been dealt an over-active imagination that is prone to run wild in anxious situations. Allow me to shed some light on the last flight I was on for more than a few hours, as this may paint a more accurate picture of the strange behaviour that I fear could resurface.
It was on a flight home from Miami, summer 2012, I was 19. I find myself becoming increasingly anxious on the way to the airport, which was new for me as our flight to New York went smoothly. In hindsight, I put that down to sheer excitement and not having been on a plane for longer than 4 hours for about 10 years. The Miami – London flight, however, was proving to be a cause for concern, potentially a result of the turbulent red eye that had ‘flown’ us there from New York.
Noticing my even paler than usual pale face, my Dad suggests picking up a packet of Xanax in the airport, much to the amusement of my ever-sympathetic sister. What happened next can only be described as the most tense nine hours of my life so far.
Feeling comforted and under the impression that the two Xanax I’d taken would kick in quickly, I tried to settle down for a little nap, desperately convincing myself that this wouldn’t be anything like the bumpy death trap from New York.
Much like the rest of the flyers, my sister and father drifted off with ease, leaving me awake and anxiously grabbing for the Xanax.
It was probably around my fourth pill: approximately four hours in, that my anxiety finally took over. I’d managed to convince myself the drunk guy relentlessly chatting up the flight attendant closest to me was actually part of an elaborate plot to distract the flyers while an accomplice slowly made their way along the snoozing cabin, massacring everyone one by one and eventually taking control of the flight – this is the over-active imagination coming into play here, can you see?
It was at this point that I realise the pills aren’t having the desired effect.
So this time around, despite recommendations from fellow nervous flyers that swear sleeping pills are the only sure fire way to sleep through a long flight, I am going to simply (and literally) sit it out. My plan is to equip myself with enough reading materials, music and films to entertain even the most ADHD child.
I must remind myself that although I am anxious, the final destination (as in where my plane will arrive, not the violent, deathly horror series) will be totally worth it.