Fear of flying: added extras that’ll help you cope
It takes a lot to get me on a plane. I really hate to fly, it makes me anxious, no matter how many times I’ve read the safety stats or been talked through the process by an experienced flyer.
I spent two years avoiding foreign travel but last May decided enough was enough – and got back on board.
I’ve discovered that, while flying will never be a pleasurable experience for me, there are several things I can do to make the experience more bearable. And I don’t just mean a shot of Jack Daniels at the airport bar… These added extras do not always come cheap but it’s a small price to pay for my health and the increased chance of actually ENJOYING my holiday (heaven forbid).
1. AIRPORT HOTELS AND PARKING
The best way to get me on a plane feeling cool, calm and collected is to make the journey to the airport as stress-free as possible. If I’m flying from Bristol or Bournemouth, this is easy enough – I either take public transport or ask a friend or travelling companion to drive me to the door. For London airports, it’s best to book a hotel the night before.
At Gatwick, the Hilton is such as oasis of calm, full of bustling business types and unflappable staff. The Hilton London Gatwick Airport South underwent a £20million revamp last year and the new rooms are plush and comfy. In fact, the beds are so well-made, you may need to set a couple of alarms to ensure you make check-in on time.
Start your holiday in Amy’s Bar, where the cocktails are made by the UK’s second-best UK mixologist. There is a fine-dining restaurant if you are hungry and, if you have an early flight, the on-site Costa Coffee is open from 5am.
Prices start from £139 for a Park & Fly package that is also available at other Hilton airport destinations.
If you are flying from Heathrow, I recently discovered the Radisson Edwardian Heathrow Hotel. It is perfect for a pre-holiday holiday and reminds me of the high standard hotels in Miami.
Dinner at The Brasserie will take the most anxious mind off the travel ahead. The food is excellent, focusing on accessible comfort food such as leek and apple sausage and mash, sirloin steak and steak and peppercorn pie. A buffet breakfast is also served in The Brasserie, including hot and cold options to build you up for the journey ahead.
The Stay, Park and Fly package includes four to 15 days on-site parking and an overnight stay from just £78.50. Upgrade to a deluxe room for £49 and receive chauffeur transport to the airport; glass of wine with dinner; and a personal meet and greet at arrivals with your car keys, so all you need do is drive home. Very civilised.
For other airports and hotels, contact APH, who have affordable hotel and parking packages all over the country. An overnight stay at the Arora International (Gatwick) costs from £110 including one week’s parking, or book one week’s parking only packages from £46.96.
2. AIRPORT LOUNGES
If there is the option to use a specific airport lounge at the terminal, I will jump at it. I used to love browsing Duty Free but, nowadays, the crowds unfortunately make me jumpy. My favourite lounges at the Virgin Atlantic rooms at UK airports, especially the new V-Room at Gatwick and Manchester – they also have lounges at various international airports.
The advantages, ahead of peace and quiet and Fast Track through security, include free newspapers and magazines to distract me, free food (I often forget to eat when stressed and that plays havoc with my blood sugar levels) and, at Gatwick, the Cowshed Spa, which offers mini treatments for ultimate relaxation.
Prices vary according to your ticket type, expect to pay around £40pp.
I also recommend swapping caffeinated drinks for herbal teas and water – this not only keeps you calm but also prevents panic bloat, which can make your flight uncomfortable. If your stomach does swell up, dissolve a sachet of Optibac (£8.69) in water for almost-instant relief.
I love thisworks: sleep (£10), which includes a calming pillow spray and inhaler, perfect for long haul flights when sleep alludes you.
If you are lucky enough to jump on a plane without thinking twice, I envy you. Getting myself in the sky can be a bit of a mission nowadays but the more I fly, the easier I find it. Hopefully one day soon, all I will need is a swift JD and coke in the departure lounge and I’ll be on my way.
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