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Fearful flyers increasing in number: survey

written by WOFA | May 21, 2019

A file image of an aircraft cabin. (Airbus)
A file image of an aircraft cabin. (Airbus)

More than one in three Australians suffer from a fear of flying. And it’s getting worse.

That’s the conclusion from a survey commissioned by travel insurance specialist InsureandGo, which found that 37 per cent of a nationally representative panel of 1,000 recent air travellers admitted to a fear of flying.

InsureandGo spokesperson Jonathan Etkind said that the prevalence of flight-related fear is at odds with the reality that accidents related to air travel were extremely rare.

In 2018, there was only one fatal accident per 2.52 million flights, according to Aviation Safety Network figures released in January.

“When accidents do occur, however, they are widely reported and gain a great deal of media attention, which can contribute to travellers’ heightened fear,” Etkind said in a statement.

And if you thought older fliers were more likely to get sweaty palms as the plane readied for take-off then you should think again, because the survey showed that as the years advanced, the fear retreated.

Despite their image as carefree adventurers, 59 per cent of 18-to 29-year-olds said they felt fear when flying.


The fear factor declined as travellers get older. It’s the very oldest, the 60-plus group, who feel most relaxed, with only 24 per cent – or fewer than one in four – putting a tick in flight-induced fear box.

While it should not be surprising that a sizeable proportion of passengers felt fear when flying, a standout finding of the survey was that despite flight becoming more routine as ticket prices fell, travellers were not becoming less scared.

On the contrary, fear of flying was becoming more common, with 56 per cent of passengers surveyed saying they had become more afraid.

Etkind said that given the extremely low chance of anything actually going wrong in the air, travellers would do better to focus on problems they were more like to encounter and that they could do something about.

InsureandGo offered four tips that could make travel less risky.

  • First, do your research so you can steer clear of accommodation in unsafe areas, even if this means paying a bit more, to cut down the risk of theft and other crime.
  • Second, set up a Smartraveller account and register your trip so you can benefit from updates on a range of topics including security alerts, and travel advice like tips for backpackers or those travelling with children.
  • Third, protect yourself with the right comprehensive travel insurance policy, which could include options such as upgrades for specific types of sporting equipment (skis or golf clubs for example), or cover for delayed baggage.
  • And fourth, reduce the likelihood you’ll need to make a claim by limiting the valuables you carry or wear, splitting your credit cards and cash into different bags and locations, and doing what you can to avoid drawing attention to your valuables or electronic goods.



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