Over the past 25 years my fear of flying has gradually increased.  Not to the extent it has stopped me flying, but it’s certainly an anxious experience for a couple of days beforehand.  It all started on a return flight from Nice back in the 90’s, which wasn’t even an eventful flight!

Perhaps it’s surprising for someone who not only works in the travel business, but who chooses to travel personally and regularly on business.

Determined to overcome my fear of travelling, which isn’t as strong as my love for travel itself, I have attended airline safety courses, jumped down inflatable slides and done smoke filled cabin exercises that are designed to instil confidence of feeling better equipped in an emergency. This massively helped, however my anxiety about things going catastrophically wrong remained. The staggering thing is I have also been in a commercial cockpit during take-off, landing and turbulence where I observed how calmly these things are managed. But it still hasn’t done the trick.

I was therefore surprised to find on my recent trip to Italy – I had never felt more comfortable.

The airport experience was far better than I imagined it would be.  It was quiet, prepared, well-organised and almost stress free.  There wasn’t any crowding when boarding the flight or waiting in long queues at the departure gate (the flight was 80% full). On the flight itself the cabin crew were relaxed and informative about how we can protect one another. When we landed not a single person jumped up to grab bags and instead, we waited in our seats to disembark row by row.  No-one told us to stay seated and we all just seemed to conform to the new experience!

I appreciate the above may not seem to relate to my fear of flying, but on reflection I believe it does.  It felt like everyone’s focus was on safety.  Airport staff created no reason to hang around in groups and cabin crew weren’t distracted with drinks trolleys – it was safety, safety, safety.  Everything ran like clock work and my usual nervousness had lessened on the way home as I knew the environment would be different.

I’m passionate about travelling and looking forward to the day when we can travel more normally – but I hope we can retain some of the calm for a more relaxed travel experience for everyone.

Singing off for now – a slightly less nervous traveller.

Max Hensser

Director of UK Sales

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