14 April 2007

14-April-2007 The Walls Are Closing In! ...... No They Are Not! (Simple Ways To Avoid A Fear of Flying)

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14-April-2007 The Walls Are Closing In! ...... No They Are Not! (Simple Ways To Avoid A Fear of Flying)

I am not going to profess to know about anxiety and what causes fears, panic and that feeling some people have that they are like a vacuum sealed peach in a can as soon as the aircraft door closes. What this post is about is a few ideas to try that make make flying a more enjoyable experience for those who tend to be a little nervous about flying.

Obviously I have no fear of flying, From a very young age, like under one year in age, my parents took my brothers and I down to Florida to see my Grandma. This trip involved flying from the airport five miles from our house, New York's JFK, down to my Grandma's local airport in Florida, Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood (FLL) on a Delta (DL) L-1011. I always looked forward to these trips, the excitement of watching the planes come and go, watching the people in the terminal rushing from gate to gate.

Something my father told me as a very young child has stuck with me through all my travels and flying. It was a trivial, humourous comment, but is always in my head when I am booking my seat selection, "If you can see the wing you know you're doing just fine." With this in my head I almost always book my seat on the wing or just behind the wing. By sitting in these seats I am able to watch the wing , which using my father's logic means we're going OK.

I do have more practical advise, which I'll get to, I just always liked the advice I got as a young........so onto the other suggestions.......

Prior to flying try and make yourself as relaxed as possible. I know travel can be stressful, packing, traffic, the wait at the ticket counter, etc. Don't worry about these things. Try and put yourself in a happy state of mind before heading to the airport. Try and leave plenty of time to get through the airport, even as an experienced traveller with access to the "priority" check in lines and the "priority" security lanes, I still like to leave myself two hours at the airport when possible. Leaving plenty of extra time takes some of the mental burden off checking in baggage, getting through security and allows you to sit down and relax prior to boarding rather than running for your flight. I know this is not always possible, but it helps.

While waiting for your flight DO NOT DRINK! (OK, water , Gatorade, soda, those are OK, but NO BOOZE!) Alcohol can make the affects of jet lag much worse and overall it tends to have more of a negative affect on people when flying than the normal idea that it will calm you down. Is there anything wrong with drinking pre-flight or on board? No, obviously not, they'll serve you the drinks, but it is not the best idea for people who have jet lag problems or anxiety about flying.

Once in the gate area and the gate agent starts calling boarding zones, if you are in Zone 5 don't get up and start queuing. Queuing very early just clogs up the boarding area, it raises tensions and often brings on anxiety. Once your zone is called, then line up. You have your boarding pass, your seat is assigned, if you are in the gate area the plane is NOT leaving without you. So relax!

If you are taking a long haul flight and want to sleep while on board, it is best to try and take your sleep medication as the boarding zones are being called. Taking the pills prior to boarding, especially for a long haul flight which can take quite a while to pushing back from the gate, means you have a better chance of being asleep when the door gets closed. With both over the counter and prescribed medications you always want to try out the medication at home before you travel. One medication you may want avoid Ambien due, to it's original purpose as an anti-psychotic medication. There are many horror stories about Ambien from very frequent flyers and in-flight cabin crews.

Once on board remember to remain calm. It may sound funny, but it is important. I have seen a number of people start to hyperventilate once they board the aircraft. There is no reason for this, you are on the ground, the door is open, people are walking around, just breath slowly and relax.

A great way to block out everything and make your own personal space is to travel with a hooded sweat shirt and a good set of noise canceling headsets. I suggest a dark sweat shirt because it will block out the light. When you setting into your seat, place your headsets over your ears and pull your hood up over your head. Try and pull the hood slightly ahead of your face on the sides and just over your eyes in the front. This will eliminate most of your peripheral vision, and combined with the noise canceling headsets, you should have now created your own personal space. I often click my iPod on and just zone out from the time I board until I either get fed or I feel like watching a movie (if you fly on United Airlines, you can listen to the air traffic control conversations from the cockpit on Channel 9 during departure and arrival!).

On a long haul flights you want want to consider bringing your own small DVD player with an auxiliary battery. Energizer makes a very compact one that lasts about 4-5hrs on a 7" screen DVD player for around US$30. Watching your own choice in movies , rather than the movies forced on you by the airline, can always make your flight more relaxing.

Remember to also keep yourself hydrated, walk around when you can to stretch and keep the circulation going. If you can do some simple exercises from your seat. These three simple things can make you more relaxed and feel more in control regarding your time spent on board the flight.

Kick back plan your trip and (if I may steal a catch phrase from Virgin Atlantic) Go Jet Set Go!

Happy Flying

01 April 2007

31-March-2007 : Planning For Things To Go Wrong, A Humourous Look At The Past Day

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31-March-2007 : Planning For Things To Go Wrong, A Humourous Look At The Past Day

Well I arrived in my hotel on the out skirts of San Francisco International Airports (SFO) around 11:PM PST (2:AM EST for my body clock) last night, I did the usual things. I plugged in my chargers, checked my next day's itinerary, and in my final planning I padded in extra time in the morning. This time padding was really for traffic delays, because there was no way to plan for the double delay I faced this morning on my way to photograph a wedding.

I was supposed to be in Walnut Creek, Calif, at 10:AM so I left my hotel room a little after 8:AM to head back to SFO and the rental car center to pick up my rental car. The shuttle for my hotel is scheduled to run about every 15 minutes so I went to the lobby and inquired when the next shuttle was and was met with this answer "Sometime after 2:00 in the afternoon." I stood stumped and repeated my question and got the exact same answer. It turns out the hotel's shuttle bus was involved in an accident that morning and would be out of service until sometime after 2:PM!!

OK, this is irritating, but not a problem, I called a cab and a few minutes later, and $20 lighter, I was at SFO's rental car facility. As I entered the complex I was promptly met by a Police Officer who asked me if I heard the fire alarms and he pushed me out. In all honestly I didn't hear the alarms and airports always have false alarms. I was a tad taken back when two engines and a ladder all showed up (standard response to this building) but with the crews dressed in full turnout gear , air masks on, carrying portable fire extinguishers. It turned out that a rental car was on fire in the rental car center. This further delayed me an additional 20 minutes

Had I not padded my time, as I always do, I would have been very late for my bride's prep photos. Instead I was only 10 minutes late (due to the traffic I had padded my time for) and when I arrived I found my bride on the steps reading the paper, seems as if no one was awake but her in the house, so I had time to kill upon arrival.

While I was terribly stressed this morning, looking back at my time allowance planning while on the road , I am now finding this whole situation funny. Seriously what are the odds of your hotel shuttle bus being in an accident and there being a car fire in the car rental facility in the span of 30 minutes when you are in a hurry?

Below are two photos shot from the balcony of my hotel this morning.....who needs an alarm clock when you are facing Tandem Arrivals from commercial airplanes?

.........................what's with the landscape shot of San Francisco after midnight? (shot shortly after midnight on April 1), well I flew into SFO and I knew I was flying home out of Oakland (OAK), however I forgot this while leaving the wedding and was headed back to SFO! Once I remembered where I was heading (unfortunately after I paid the toll) I drove around a bit looking for a nice photo and I came up with this shot of the San Francisco skyline.

-Click On The Photos Below To Enlarge The Images-