Do You Have Any Traditions You Must Perform Before Your Flight Takes Off To Keep Your Nerves In Check?

Somewhere over Iceland.

Personally, I love to fly. I have zero issues with it and even when we hit turbulence and many people gasp and reach for the closest person as if this is the end, I’ve always been fine with it. I guess when I’m flying I know that I’m either coming or going from someplace, and I’m much more comfortable when I’m on the move. New York may be my home, but I’ll hop on a plane out of town every chance I get. As a friend pointed out, New York will always be there; New York won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Since I don’t get nervous and am happy just to stare out the window and mentally check out, I don’t have any traditions that I must perform in order to keep myself calm. But I’ve noticed some interesting ones.

On my way to Key West, I was stuck in a middle seat. Each man on either side of me did the sign of the cross multiple times before take off. The one to right of me then proceeded to rub his rosary beads on the top of his knee. Obviously, there was nothing subtle about it, so he apologized for it and explained that he absolutely had to do that during the first part of the flight, and then again when the flight was descending. I shrugged, because, hey, if that’s your thing, buddy, go for it. It’s probably better than having a public breakdown.

On my way back from Iceland last year, there was a man who, not long after take off, got up and started to do squats. At first the flight attendants seemed a bit confused and asked him to go back into his seat. He explained that he had forgotten to take his anti-anxiety medication, and if he didn’t get that nervous energy out of him someway, he’d probably end up crying. He also said that he usually did push-ups in the terminal before getting on the plane, but had forgotten this time. Unfortunately, this man was in the row opposite me, so I got to watch him in action for a good 20 minutes or so before he was finally told to sit down since it was time for the drink cart to make the rounds.

I understand a lot of people don’t like to fly, and like I said, do what you must to cope. Does anyone else have anything they must do in order to avoid losing your shit on a plane?

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    • Elizabeth

      Does alcohol count as a tradition? He’s lucky I wasn’t sitting next to him. Nobody gets in the way of my drinks cart.

      • Amanda Chatel

        Yes. And what a fine tradition indeed.

      • mm

        Best tradition ever. I will say, that if someone meets you at the airport, for me at least, it’s hard to pretend to be sober. I get myself wasted on planes. Not even because they scare me, but because it goes faster if you do. I’ve been flying my whole life so it’s not scary at all….it’s just boring. Boy oh boy does booze help.

    • Cydnii

      I always try to touch the outside of the plane just before I step on board. Just a nice, discreet rub & pat. I don’t know why that’s my good juju, but it is. Maybe it’s reassuring knowing how strong the plane is. Maybe I feel like the good vibes in my pat will reassure both the plane and myself that we’ll be fine. Either way, it’s comforting.

      • Jessi

        O.M.G This is my ritual too!! I like to think of it as a nice rub behind the ears on a dog.

    • Maggie

      I read the safety handbook every. single. time. I know it’s hardly changed a letter since I’ve been flying, but for some reason I feel better knowing I’m as prepared for an emergency as I can be. Otherwise, I’m totally fine. I mean, I have to chew gum obnoxiously because my ears don’t handle the pressure change well, but that’s not an anxiety issue, that’s just a regular old “my body is silly” issue.

    • Sean

      I normally take a quick glance at the plane on the tarmac to make sure it has at least two wings.

    • MR

      My brother’s an commercial airline pilot. Flys jets for one of the majors. But it’s the small fast propeller plane just a little above 6,ooo to feet when the atmosphere’s moving. Now that’s something that you have to work up to getting used to.

    • Nicole B

      My tradition: 3 bloody marys at the bar closest to my gate and sweet talking the bartending into putting a 4th into a to-go mug.