For the seasoned business traveler, a little turbulence is nothing to worry about. However, occasionally, the skies turn angry and rattle even the most frequent flyers. Likewise, those new to the travel game may find themselves in an uproar at the slightest bump in the “road.” In the case of unwelcome and uncomfortable flying conditions, these thoughts will help everyone remain calm, cool, and collected.
Know what turbulence is. A great deal of fear is rooted in the unknown and the “what ifs.” Being aware of the scientific facts surrounding turbulence can calm fears. Airplanes travel on wind flow. When the smooth air turns choppy, like ocean waves, it is called turbulence. Turbulence generally has one of three causes: thermal, such as warm air rising through cooler air; mechanical, such as a mountain altering air flow; or shear, which occurs along the border of two pockets of moving air.
Know what turbulence is NOT. It may seem like a roller coaster ride, with rapid drops of 100 feet or more. Passengers sit, nervously expecting the worst and bracing for a tailspin. In reality, that massive drop was likely about 10 feet or so and a tailspin wasn’t even a remote possibility. In fact, the complimentary soft drink held by the most nervous passenger didn’t even slosh out onto the floor.
Understand why it isn’t usually dangerous. Turbulence can be scary to many. However, the following facts provide a great deal of reassurance. First, airplanes are built and tested to ensure that they can face dangerous and challenging situations, from storms to extreme temperature changes. Second, pilots are trained to cope with turbulence and have technology that usually lets them know when it is coming. Finally, of the 8 million people who fly every single day, only about 58 per year are injured by turbulence. The majority of those are flight crew, who were up walking around during the disturbance.
Follow directions. The above reassurance is meant to calm fears, but not to induce a completely cavalier attitude. If the pilot or attendants instruct passengers to remain seated and fasten seatbelts, then it is time to do so. Stow away loose items and pay attention. Take all instructions seriously, at all times, assuming that the safety of all on board is the priority of the flight crew.
Remain calm. The last thing the attendants or other passengers need to deal with is an individual acting out or being overly dramatic. Take deep breaths. Have the motion sickness bag handy if needed. Remind yourself of the safety facts. Think positive thoughts. All will be well.
As always, we wish you the friendliest of skies, business traveler.