There’s an old saying among pilots: “Every mile of road will take you a mile. Every mile of runway will take you anywhere.” But what about those bumpy miles in the air? For many, airplane turbulence can turn an exciting journey into a nerve-wracking ordeal. But what if there were ways to understand, manage, and even mitigate your experience of turbulence? That’s precisely what we’re here to explore today.
- Turbulence is a common occurrence during flights, often caused by atmospheric pressure changes, jet streams, and thunderstorms.
- Although uncomfortable, turbulence is not a safety threat.
- There are effective strategies to manage your experience of turbulence, enhancing your comfort during flights.
- Choosing seats over wings and keeping seatbelts fastened can help handle turbulence.
- Understanding and anticipating turbulence can significantly reduce associated anxiety.
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What Causes Turbulence?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, turbulence is a common part of flying, typically caused by atmospheric pressure changes, jet streams, and thunderstorms. These natural phenomena can create air movement that rocks the plane, often leading to passenger discomfort. However, as Captain John Cox, an aviation safety consultant, reminds us, “Turbulence is uncomfortable, but it is not dangerous. An aircraft is designed to withstand the forces of turbulence.“
So, How Often Does Turbulence Occur?
Turbulence is an everyday part of air travel. However, severe turbulence, which can cause significant discomfort and alarm among passengers, is infrequent. It’s important to remember that pilots and air traffic controllers work tirelessly to predict and avoid turbulence, ensuring passenger comfort and safety.
1. Anticipate the Bumps
Knowledge is power. Understanding that turbulence is a normal part of flying and not a safety threat can help reduce anxiety. As aviation anxiety expert Dr. Martin Seif explains, “It’s like driving on a bumpy road in a car. It’s uncomfortable, but it’s not dangerous.”
2. Choose Your Seat Wisely
The location of your seat can affect your experience of turbulence. Seats over the wings often provide the smoothest ride, as they are closest to the plane’s center of mass.
3. Stay Buckled Up
Keeping your seatbelt fastened, even when the seatbelt sign is off, is a practical tip to avoid unnecessary jolts during sudden turbulence.
4. Try Distraction and Relaxation Techniques
Listening to calming music, practicing deep breathing, or focusing on a gripping movie can help distract your mind and ease the discomfort of turbulence.
5. Use the Power of Visualization
Imagining the plane as a ship riding the waves can help normalize the experience of turbulence. Visualization techniques can be a powerful tool for easing flight anxiety.
6. Stay Hydrated and Avoid Alcohol
Hydration can prevent headaches and feelings of nausea, which can be exacerbated by turbulence. Conversely, alcohol can dehydrate you and increase feelings of anxiety.
7. Talk About Your Fears
Expressing your fears to a sympathetic flight attendant or seatmate can help alleviate anxiety. You’re not alone in your feelings, and a kind word or reassurance can go a long way.
8. Consider a Fear of Flying Course or Counselling
If your fear of turbulence or flying is severe, consider seeking professional help. Many airlines offer fear of flying courses, and there are therapists who specialize in this phobia.
Ultimately, the best way to deal with airplane turbulence is to understand what it is, why it happens, and that it’s a normal part of the flying experience. By arming yourself with knowledge and helpful strategies, you can ensure a smoother, less stressful journey.
What Is Airplane Turbulence?
Airplane turbulence is a sudden change in airflow that can cause the aircraft to rise, fall, or sway. It’s often caused by atmospheric pressure changes, jet streams, or thunderstorms.
Is Turbulence Dangerous?
No, turbulence is not dangerous. As Captain John Cox explains, “an aircraft is designed to withstand the forces of turbulence.”
How Can I Reduce My Fear of Turbulence?
Understanding what turbulence is and that it’s not a safety threat can help reduce fear. Additionally, distraction techniques, staying buckled up, choosing your seat wisely, and staying hydrated can all help alleviate the discomfort associated with turbulence.
Where’s the Best Place to Sit to Avoid Turbulence?
The seats over the wings, closest to the plane’s center of mass, often provide the smoothest ride.
Should I Worry If the Plane Shakes During Turbulence?
No, it’s normal for the plane to shake during turbulence. Remember, airplanes are built to withstand these conditions.
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- Federal Aviation Administration on Turbulence
- Expert insights: Captain John Cox and Dr. Martin Seif
- International Air Transport Association on Turbulence