Coping with Turbulence

I started flying regularly when I got involved with Mozilla in 2006, and back then I couldn’t stand flight turbulence. Every little bump or dip would startle me; I’d grab the armrests and wish for it go away.

After a few flights like this, I decided that it was something I should be able to overcome mentally. I knew I was flying 600 miles an hour 30,000 feet in the air, but if I felt the same bumps riding in a car, I wouldn’t even think about them.

The trick I came up with was to pretend I was on a roller coaster or another ride at a theme park. At first, this was a very conscious and literal process, where I’d actually picture different Disney World rides in my head. Sometimes, the turbulence would even turn fun. Gradually, I was able to calm myself with just the reminder of a roller coaster.

The last couple years, I’ve apparently convinced myself that planes are so safe that turbulence no longer bothers me at all, even when it gets pretty bad. I don’t even have to think of roller coasters any more; I just continue doing things as if nothing’s happening.

We’re going to have to do our pre-landing safety check on the honor system, so look at your neighbors and if their seatbacks and tray tables aren’t up, give them the stink eye.— Flight attendant on a very turbulent flight last week

I’ve mentioned method this to a few people and it seems to have helped them as well, so if you have issues with turbulence, you might try thinking of theme park rides and realizing it’s something you can get over mentally.

  • Good tip, Fligtar. I started doing something similar a few months ago. I just pretend I’m on the caltrain or the bus… and consume several glasses of wine. 😛