Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Chick Wit: Uneasy flier clips wings

Lately, I'm grabbing men on airplanes. This could be the new, for frequent fliers. Let me explain. I have a medical excuse.

Lately, I'm grabbing men on airplanes.

This could be the new, for frequent fliers.

Let me explain. I have a medical excuse.

I seem to be developing a fear of flying.

And I blame Liam Neeson.

Because after seeing the movie Nonstop - as well as lots of other airplane crash movies - I can visualize all too well what happens when planes become lawn darts.

And sadly, I also keep thinking of all of those poor people on that Malaysian plane who have not been found. The TV news keeps updating the story, and each time I feel so sorry for them and their families.

It might be too much information, or too much imagination. Either way, all of a sudden, I'm nervous when I fly.

I found that out last week, when I took a business trip to Florida from Philly, down one day and up the next, which describes the turbulence both ways.

There had been bad rainstorms all over the country, and the plane ride south started off rocky and never got better. I popped flop sweat. I gripped the armrests. I gritted my teeth.

But when I looked around at the other passengers, they were reading their books, e-books, newspapers, and answering e-mail. Oddly, they seemed not to realize that the world was about to end.

The captain got on the speaker and said things about "random air pockets," "being rerouted," and "keep your seatbelts fastened," but I was too stressed out to hear any of it, and all I can tell you is that it was the first flight I wouldn't get up to go to the bathroom.

I almost went in my seat.

Then the plane dropped suddenly, and I instinctively reached over and clutched the arm of the man next to me.

I say instinctively, but God knows if it's instinctive. Maybe it's instinctive for single women.

Either way, he looked over and smiled, and I apologized.

Then he said, "Don't worry. We're at 35,000 feet."


I said, "That's exactly what worries me."

He shook his head, patiently. "It shouldn't. If anything goes wrong now, the pilot has 30,000 feet to fix it. The only times to worry are at takeoff and landing."


So I gutted it out, and I helped land the plane through the sheer power of will, hope, karma, prayer, or all of the above.

It took the next three hours for my stomach to settle, and I dreaded the flight home the next day.

Which was even worse - the sky was sunny and clear, but wind buffeted the plane, up and down, right and left, and again, when we made a sudden drop, I grabbed the guy next to me.

Are you getting the idea? Don't sit near me on a plane.

But this guy was nice, too. He laughed patiently as I apologized and unhooked my nails from his arm, one at a time, like a kitten.

Then he said, "You don't have to worry. There's nothing out there."


I told him, "That's exactly what worries me."

"It shouldn't. It means there's nothing for us to hit, or to hit us."

"But it also means there's nothing underneath us."

"No worries. You're in more danger on the street, with all those crazy drivers. This is nothing, and the plane's on autopilot. Do you know they don't even drive with their hands on the wheel?"

I almost threw up.

Then, by some miracle, after we landed safely, I filed weak-kneed down the aisle, where the pilot stood next to a flight attendant. I asked the pilot, "Is it true that you don't drive with your hands on the wheel?"

"No," he answered.

"Yes," answered the flight attendant, at the same time.

And I'm driving to Florida from now on.