Fear of Flying



Don’t Let Your Fears Keep You Grounded!plane

It is estimated that one out of every five Americans are afraid to fly.  If you are afraid to fly, you can overcome this fear and become a comfortable traveler. 

Imagine how great your life could be if you looked forward to vacations, rather than dreading the anticipated flight.  How many of you have passed up promotions and job opportunities because of your terror of flying?

Dr. Marty Seif is one of the nation’s most experienced specialists in the treatment of flying phobias.  Twelve years ago, Dr. Seif created Freedom to Fly, the preeminent airport-based group program for fearful fliers.  Freedom to Fly is run through the Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center at White Plains Hospital.  Freedom to Fly has helped many hundreds of people overcome their fears of flying.

Freedom to Fly Now

In 2012, Dr. Seif started Freedom to Fly Now (FTFN). It offers group weekend airport-based flying workshops for people afraid or uncomfortable with flying. Participants meet on a Saturday and Sunday, and the program includes a round trip commercial airplane flight. (This program is not affiliated with the freedom to Fly program at White Plains Hospital.) The next workshop is November 2nd and 9th, 2014. For more information visit Freedom to Fly Now.

Dr. Seif also provides individual treatment, tailored specifically for you, to help you overcome your fears of flying.

Fear of Flying is a term that describes a variety of phobias. Many people who describe themselves as "afraid to fly" are claustrophobic, and don't like the idea of being enclosed in the airplane. Others fear heights, turbulence, the idea of crashing, terrorists, flying over water, or traveling long distances.


Martin N Seif — January 08, 1999 — Interview with Dr. Martin Seif about fears of flying


New York Times - July 24, 2007 - Freedom To Fly Program

Fear of Flying


News Briefs on CBS-880 Radio


Interview on Radio Times, WHYY Radio, on "Why We Fear Flying"

Why Radio


How I Got Over My Fear of Flying

Wall Street Journal

Travel + Leisure
Published August 2014
By Molly Jong-Fast

Aaron Spelling had a train car. Aretha Franklin has a custom bus. Even Marge Simpson suffered from it. I came by my pteromerhanophobia (fear of flying) honestly: my mother wrote a novel called Fear of Flying. Read More>>

Ask The Experts
How can I overcome my fear of flying?

Wall Street Journal

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Response from Martin N. Seif, PhD, ABPP:

Overcoming a fear of flying takes a lot of courage and practice. But it is possible with appropriate treatment. I never flew until I was almost 30 years old, and getting over my own fear of flying was one of the most difficult achievements of my life. Read More>>

Flying With the Greatest of Ease

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal - June 23, 2011
By Scott McCartney

They clutch armrests and push mindless conversations on seatmate strangers. They bite their nails or bow their heads in prayer as engines roar for takeoff. Some load up on antianxiety drugs or alcohol—perhaps both—in an attempt to get through the air-travel experience. Read More>>

For Flying Phobia, There is Help


January 01, 2012|By Cara McDonough, For The Inquirer

Several years ago, before I was married and had children of my own, my parents, brother, and I were flying together.

I don't remember the location, but I clearly remember the shameful exclamations of fear regarding what I do recognize as a commonplace and - yes - safe form of travel.Read More>>

Conquering a Fear of Flying
By Karen Keller - AOL Family Health
Sep 8, 2010

For 25 years, Judith Kiss' fear of flying made her avoid airports. "I've driven to Florida; I've driven to Alaska," said Kiss, a social worker who lives in New York state.

She started suffering from claustrophobia in 1985 when she became pregnant. She said that as soon as the airplane door closed, she would panic that the plane's ventilation system wouldn't provide enough oxygen. Read More >>

Will Fear of Flying Hit New Heights?

ABC News

By DAN CHILDS - ABC News Medical Unit
Aug. 6, 2008

A spate of highly publicized emergency aircraft landings in the past three weeks may be enough to elevate apprehension in some travelers who fear flying, psychological experts say. Read More >>

Anxiety center helps travelers beat fear of flying

ABC News

Ken Valenti - 
The Journal News
November 23, 2009

Phobias are bullies, and the fear of flying is a tough one. This is what I learned when I talked to Dr. Martin Seif, a psychologist, and two people who had not flown in years before taking a class in overcoming their fears. Justin Tolbert of Yonkers had flown a lot as a kid, but had been unnerved nine years ago by a severely turbulent flight home from college in Atlanta. After that, he made his trips back and forth to school "on Greyhound, driving, Amtrak, you name it," the 27-year-old said. Read More >>

For Fear of Flying, Therapy Takes to the Skies

New York Times

By TIM MURPHY - New York Times
Published: July 24, 2007

For most of the 100 or so sleepy-eyed people boarding the U.S. Airways shuttle to Logan Airport in Boston from La Guardia in New York on a recent hazy Saturday morning, the 35-minute flight could not have been a bigger nonevent. But that was not the case for about 20 passengers clustered nervously near the gate. Many clutched puzzle books and bags of sour candy as though they held talismans. Some made nervous jokes, others sobbed quietly. Read More >>

You’re Grounded! (But you don’t have to be)

Your Grounded

July 10th, 2009

An estimated 20% of adults have a fear of flying (aka aviophobia, aviatophobia and aerophobia), and the recent news regarding devastating airline crashes is causing more people to question the safety of air travel. Is it safe to fly? Is there a safer way to travel? Should I just stay home and avoid the risk altogether? Read More >>

One Size Does not Fit All

New York Times

Letter to the Editor - New York Times
Published: October 1, 2006

Your article about nervous fliers portrays the medical management of post-9/11 flight fright. But anti-anxiety medication by itself cannot overcome the fear of flying for the majority of flight phobics. Read More >>

Typologies for the Fear of Flying: Implications for Flight Personnel and Therapists


By Ronald M. Doctor, Ph.D. and Martin Seif, Ph.D.

The purpose of this presentation is to provide a clinical picture of fearful fliers so that in-cabin personnel, therapists and airline staff can better help them to understand and manage their fears. Read More >>

Comments from formerly fearful fliers

Here is what formerly fearful fliers say:  

Just want to wish you "Happy holidays"! Twenty plus flights under my belt since I took the course! We are flying to MD next week...then FLA in February, and Puerto Rico in the Spring. Thank you! --Jessica

I flew up and back to Boston this weekend.  Prior to this, I suffered terribly from claustrophobia and could not fly for five years.  I had sought treatment for my claustrophobia through different therapists and cognitive therapy organizations.  I would like to commend Dr. Martin Seif, who…helped me understand my claustrophobia and how to deal with it. --Dorothy

I feel as if I am in paradise.  Perfect weather and beautiful views.  It took 20 years to return to Hawaii.  I handled the flight well and look forward to the return flight.  Thank you for making this possible.  Aloha. --Laurie

"I attended your flying classes a couple of years ago. I had been deeply phobic for many years, and I was certain that I would never be able to travel by air.  Today I fly on a regular basis.  It is one of the greatest triumphs of my life.--Richard"

Dr. Marty Seif wants to help you become a comfortable flier!