In Destination Wedding, my wedding planner heroine is afraid to fly. To cope she chants, “I do. I do” while throwing back a couple of tiny vodka bottles. Shortly after, the handsome stranger sitting next to her kisses her silly. She lands safely in Hawaii! While the odds of this happening to me the next time I fly are slim, I asked fellow Crimson Romance author and flight attendant Jaye Shields to offer some tips to ease flying fears.
Robyn: What quirky rituals have you seen passengers do to calm their nerves?
Jaye: I haven’t noticed anything “quirky”, just a lot of drinking and white-knuckle fisting of the arm rests. This one time though, I did have a passenger in the very last row look back at me with white fear on her face and beg to be let off the plane before takeoff.
Robyn: What tips do you have for a nervous flyer to try to ease anxiety?
Jaye: Talk to your flight attendant. As in the case above, the woman had let me know she was deathly afraid, which enabled me to help her. I moved out of my jumpseat to kneel in the aisle above her and explained how and where our planes were made and that they are specifically designed for rough flying and that both of our pilots had been flying longer than I’d been alive. I then grabbed her a glass of ice. Chewing on it is both distracting and cools the body temperature which usually heats during fear, making the passenger even more uncomfortable.
Robyn: What exactly is turbulence and how does the flight crew prepare for a potential bumpy flight prior to takeoff?
Jaye: There are different kinds of turbulence and when it comes to flying, it’s the last thing you need to worry about. Planes and pilots are built and trained for different wind patterns and occurrences. I deal with heavy turbulence on a day to day basis and you’d be shocked at how much battering the aircraft can take and how smoothly a pilot can land in it.
Robyn: Is there anything passengers can do before they board the plane to ease their nerves?
Jaye: If you fly Southwest, you may not have this opportunity because you can’t choose your seat, but arranging to have a seat in the forward part of the plane is your best bet. In the back of the aircraft, you feel the tail moving side to side more. Basically, you feel every movement more. Also, as soon as you board, let the flight attendant know you have a hard time flying and request a can of ginger ale and extra garbage bag in case you feel ill. Ginger ale soothes nerves well and a garbage bag…well, those tiny paper bags don’t do much and definitely don’t disguise smell.
Robyn: Throwing in some fun questions, too! Have you had any memorable flights? (If you tell me Bradley Cooper was on one of your flights, I’ll die!:)
Jaye: This is going to sound cheesy, but all my flights are fun and memorable. I love my job and the people I fly with. I have had celebs on my flight and seen many in the airport. David Spade actually approached me once in an airport while I was in uniform. That was pretty cool. My friend had Hugh Jackman on her flight and said he was really nice. Rob Pattinson was flying on us a lot when they were filming Twilight in Canada, but I never got him on my flight.
Robyn: You are also a romance author and have multiple books published. Tell us about your books. Are your experiences as a flight attendant reflected in your stories?
Jaye: Not really. But I do tap into a lot of my travels. My June release, Secrets of the Jaguar, takes place partly in Mexico as my character explores ruins to unearth an ancient Aztec curse. I just recently started writing a flight attendant destination story. I got the idea one day while our plane was broke down. I brainstormed the idea with one of our captains. I’m so excited to finish it—it’s a very cozy romance.