fear of flying over water

Fear of Flying Over Water: What Should I Do?

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We all know a lot of people are scared of flying. It’s a remarkably common fear. I give a lot of tips for fearful flyers on this website in the hopes of helping.

But, like any other phobia, a fear of flying has many different faucets and faces. It’s not fair to claim each person’s underlying anxiety is identical.

As such, this post will particularly focus on if you have a fear of flying over water, and the different ways you can address this specific anxiety until (hopefully!) it’s long gone.

Honestly, for me, night flights over the Atlantic Ocean are the worst. I don’t know if it’s due to the fact that I suddenly became scared to fly on a transatlantic international flight or if water is just … scary.

I don’t think I’m alone in this apprehensiveness either. I mean, oceans are big, man. Shudder.

fear of flying over water

I hate the be the bearer of bad news, but it comes with the territory of being a travel blogger, I suppose. You’re going to have to “deal with” flying over water.

Sorry, no way around it. I know I don’t want to take a long boat ride, and teleportation hasn’t been invented just yet. So we’re stuck.

Honestly, if international travel is a lifelong dream for you, you’re going to have to fly over water, probably an entire ocean.

I know. I know. It’s an intense thought. Sometimes the mere thought of flying over an ocean is scarier than the actual experience of boarding a plane and gritting your teeth.

But I have faith you will complete your journey.

If I can sit on a plane, one soaring high over the sea, then you will be able to do it too. Have confidence in yourself.

fear of flying over water

Tips for Helping Your Fear of Flying Over Water

1. Choose an Aisle Seat or Close the Window Shade.

Honestly, if flying over water freaks you out, then you don’t want to have visual reminders of its bloody existence. You know what they say … Out of sight, out of mind.

Therefore, put that damn water far out of your mind!

In order to accomplish this task, you need to take control of your seat as soon as you book your airline ticket. Most airlines, especially major ones, will let you choose your seat online during the booking process.

You want to select an aisle seat. No windows, no reminders of the ocean. You can pretend you’re riding the bus in your hometown if you want.

Now let’s say you get stuck in the window seat. Close the shade and keep it closed. I don’t care if you annoy your seat mates either. Your comfort takes priority.

Now I understand some airlines are super annoying about prices, and thus, they’ll charge an unseemly fee for selecting a specific seat ahead of time, but you need to determine if you’re willing to fork over cash in order to be comfortable. If you are, great! Then do it!

fear of flying over water

2. Oceanic Air Traffic Control Exists.

You might be thinking it is impossible to track airplanes over the ocean. You’re remote. Gone. No hope.

Well … that’s not 100% true.

Air traffic control is more than capable of tracking planes over the ocean. Two examples of oceanic air traffic control are Gander Center located in Newfoundland, Canada and Shanwick Center in Ayrshire, Scotland.

Say whaaaat? Yes, it’s true.

For instance, Shanwick monitors the area of international airspace located in the northeast portion of the Atlantic Ocean. This is some awesome news for you.


Well, a huge chunk of flights coming from the United States and Canada will fly through this area. Meaning, it’s okay, the pilots are communicating with other highly trained individuals, all of them promising to get you safely to your final destination.

At the end of the day, you’re never too far from oceanic air traffic control. Planet earth is smaller than we think, yeah?

fear of flying over water

3. Remember All the Flights Successful Completed Over Water.

Seriously, if you try to actually do this task, you won’t be able to count all the routes without dedicating a significant amount of time. I’ve tried it, haha.

Now I know it’s super easy to pretend that your little plane is alllllll alone over the big scary ocean. But this simply isn’t the case. We’re all well connected. You’re on the same route as many other pilots and planes.

I want you to think about the gigantic number of airliners soaring over water every single day.

For example, visit Newark Liberty’s Departure page and see how many planes are venturing across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe, or taking the polar route to Asian countries such as China and Japan.

How many of these planes have ever crashed? … … Not many. At all. The odds are in your favor, as they say.

Not to mention, these pilots are always in frequent contact with one another and monitoring conditions. You’re not all alone over the scary ocean, I promise.

fear of flying over water

4. Pilots are Aware of All Primary Alternate Airports (duh!).

Okay, there’s no law in the books stating that planes are only allowed to land at the airports printed on the tickets. Common sense, I know, but I still feel like it needs to be written plain and clear.

At the end of the day, a commercial jet is never all that far away from an alternate airport should an emergency occur over the ocean.

Let’s go back to the United States – Europe route example. Reachable diversion airports include Bangor International, Gander Airport, CFB Goose Bay, Halifax Stanfield International, Keflavík International, Shannon, Bermuda, and Lajes (Azores), just to name a few.

Need more airports to relax your fears? What if you’re flying over the Pacific Ocean? Indian Ocean? The Polar Route? My favorite website Wikipedia (har har har) lists all the diversion airports available for commercial jets.

At the end of the day, the odds are you’ll probably be flying a route where an airport isn’t incredibly distant. So breath.

fear of flying over water

5. Planes have so Many Back Up Systems that It’s Wild.

Man, I wish my adorable Honda had as many back up systems as a commercial jet! It’s really remarkable when you think about it.

Now I know some of you are probably aware of this fact, but I still think it bears repeating, especially if you have a deep fear of flying over water.

A Boeing 777 is not just going to fall out of the sky into the ocean. It just isn’t.

Am I making a bold claim? I don’t think so.

There are redundant systems for all critical systems on an airplane. Landing gear? There’s a back up. Flaps? Back up. Engines? You bet.

Even if a system fails over the ocean, your plane is equipped to deal with it. Crazily enough, planes can even glide for very long distances with no engines at all.

And keep in mind a plane is a multi-million dollar piece of engineering equipment. It is in everyone’s financial interests to keep the physical plane itself safe and sound.

fear of flying over water

6. Remember those Bloody Statistics and Hold Them Close!

I know, I know. You’re probably already rolling my eyes at what I am about to write, but please hear me out.

I get it. At this point, we fearful flyers have all heard about the safety statistics regarding commercial air travel. But still, the numbers are comforting.

For example, according to estimates, you have a 1 in 7,000,000 chance of perishing on a US-based airline. For comparison, you have a 1 in 14,000 chance of dying in a coast-to-coast car trip.

You likely have a better chance of winning the lottery than perishing in a flight over water. Numbers and science are both firmly on your side. See them as allies.

fear of flying over water
Oh wow! Me smiling on a plane!

Still Scared to Fly? Don’t Worry!

I hope I helped you face your fear of flying over water. It’s a long journey, but if you stay brave, you’ll be able to tackle this challenge and many more to come in your life.

As you already know, I’m afraid to fly and I want to help other nervous flyers finally achieve their travel goals.

Coping with a fear of flying is challenging, but at the same time, it’s not impossible to overcome. Check out some of my other posts if you need more advice.

scared of flying over water

Fear of Flying Resources

43 Tips for Fearful Flyers: The many suggestions I’ve collected over the years for how to best defeat your pesky fear of flying.

Common Flying Fears and How to Confront Them: People are scared of flying for many reasons. Figure out your “trigger” and how to best combat it!

Conquer Your Fear of Turbulence: Turbulence is one of the common reasons why people feel anxious flying. Manage your turbulence fear once and for all!

The Fearful Flyer’s Guide to Long Haul Flights: Without a doubt, long haul flights pose very specific challenges for people with flight anxiety. Here’s how to handle the next international long haul if you’re nervous about soaring in the air.

fear of flying over water
Be tough like a lion!

Do you have a fear of flying over water? What tips would you give to anxious travelers? Share all your opinions in the comments. 

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1 thoughts on “Fear of Flying Over Water: What Should I Do?

  1. Katrina Khanna says:

    Hi there,
    This has really helped me. I have a massive phobia of flying over the ocean. Every scenario possible comes into my head. My husband on the other hand loves flying and in August we have booked to go to Mexico from the UK. I am so anxious about it that I dream about it at night and it is only March. The last time we went across to Florida I had to do a fear of flying course, but that didn’t address my ocean phobia really. I would be very grateful if I could receive your emails as I need all the support I can get.

    Many thanks,

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