I wrote in an article earlier this year which revealed that, despite living in five different houses and three different countries in the first decade of my life, I didn’t get on a plane until I was twenty. Although I hopped around Europe for much of my early life, I always travelled by car or ferry for long distance journeys. None of my family holidays required me to fly, and it wasn’t really on my radar as a mode of transport. I was the odd one out amongst my friends for having not flown, but not having undergone this experience yet was never a worry of mine.
It wasn’t until university when I began to realise I felt like I wanted to avoid flying. The thought of flying completely freaked me out, and became a source of anxiety if I thought about it for too long. My mind would fill with the idea that there would be a disaster: the plane would crash, or something would stop working and we would simply fall out of the sky.
In 2019, my best friend convinced me that we should go to Amsterdam just before our third year began in September. I can’t entirely remember how it came about, but we settled on the idea that we should go by plane. It’s a flight of less than an hour, and I realised that I couldn’t spend my whole life avoiding this thing that in reality posed little-to-no risk to me. We booked the trip months in advance, and it was so far away I felt like it would never actually arrive, and I would never really have to get on a plane. We got a good deal for an early morning flight from an airport near London, so began our trip with an overnight coach journey. The process of getting ready and starting the journey was so exciting that I managed to put all thoughts of the flight out of my head.
However, once we hit the airport, everything changed. I began to panic, slowly at first. I took two sips of an overpriced cider before I couldn’t stomach anything else, and in the hour before the flight, I even told my friend that I simply wasn’t going on the holiday anymore. Magically, once we boarded the plane, my anxiety settled down. Even when it was announced our flight was delayed by two hours and we were going to have to sit on the runway, the panic didn’t rise. I came to terms with my environment, and my friend and I did simple things like listen to podcasts and attempt to French braid each other’s hair in the very cramped space we had.
I was nervous about taking off, as I’d heard many people hate the start of a flight, but I genuinely really enjoyed the feelings of taking off and landing. However, I hated being in the air. My worries about something going wrong and our plane suddenly falling to the earth lurked in my mind for the whole flight, particularly when we were over the ocean. I was relieved when we landed, and had a decent enough experience that I didn’t spend our whole trip dreading the flight back like I had worried I might. Despite this, I’m in no hurry to get back on a plane. I have no plans to do so in the near future, and it would take a very tempting holiday to make me give it another go.