Fear Of Flying: Terrorism And Fear Of Flying After 9/11

Do you know anyone with a fear of flying? In my clinical hypnotherapy practice, I’ve seen a huge increase in nervous flyers. Many of these have developed a fear of flying since 9/11. And many more have a fear of “flying terrorism”.

Many people have developed an outright fear of flying phobia because they have a perception that flying is more dangerous than before 9/11.

Of course it is important to ask, “How ‘real’ is this threat and how can you overcome it?”

The first thing is get into perspective: 9/11 was a unique and terrifying experience. Most of the folk who died as a result of it were not flying at the time. They were innocent office workers, surprised by the attack on the twin towers. They were on the ground.

It is also important to look at what happened as a result of 9/11. The fear of flying terrorism caused lead to a huge increase in airport security. As a British citizen travelling to the United States, I have been interrogated at length several times on why I am entering the country (when I was clearly on holiday or there for hypnosis trainings).

Police presence at airports has increased now, and any bags that are left unattended are quickly labelled “suspicious packages.” So you can be assured that, not only is passenger aircraft safety a priority, but the security measures are more stringent than ever.

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Fear of flying terrorism or a fear of a repeat of 9/11 is understandable but does not bear up to the facts.

That’s why the next step for any person serious about getting over their fear of flying phobia is to gather quality information:

  • What is the real safety record of airplanes?
  • How secure are airports?
  • What sort of rigorous training do pilots undergo?
  • Did you know they can land a plane safely, even if the engines cut out?
  • Did you know that airplanes now have bullet-proof doors to prevent terrorists getting inside?
  • Did you know that pilots have a security camera so they can see if it is safe to open the door to the cock-pit?

The sad fact that is that when I was a boy, you could go and visit the pilot in the cockpit. Now security is so tight that it simply is not allowed.

Once you know the real facts, it becomes easier to face your fear for what it is: False Expectations Appearing Real.

It is true that, at this moment in time, there is genuine concern about the security of cargo planes. Experts are concerned these could be used as missiles in the same way as 9/11. One reason is probably because passenger aircraft are subject to so many security measures that it is would be very difficult for terrorists to gain the upper hand. So they are not likely to try to compromise commercial airlines: they are simply too well protected.

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Since 9/11 some people have behaved almost to the point of paranoia. One story goes that a plane was forced to land because the flight crew saw a discarded sickness bag with the letters BOB on it. They interpreted it to mean “Bomb on Board”. The mind can play tricks on you. But you can overcome this with a good fear of flying book or clinical hypnotherapy sessions.

Fear of flying terrorism should not put you off flying. Airplanes are safer than ever. In the United States, flights often have an Air Marshall on board. His job is to serve and protect during the flight.

Fear of flying after 9/11 has lead to many more people developing a fear and phobia of flying. In my clinical practice, I help folk deal with the unconscious triggers that are causing this. With fear of flying, terrorism is an irrational worry that is blown out of proportion. Once a person is helped to see that, to understand the true facts about safety, then they can use the power of their mind to overcome a fear of flying.


by Richard Haggerty