Fear & Loathing in the Sky

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Today’s Red Dress Club prompt is non-fiction from my point of view. It is to “write a formal complaint letter to my deepest, darkest fear.” **not necessarily looking for concrit here, just felt like being snarky/funny about it!**

Dear Boeing 737,

Your long metal tubes replete with recycled air nauseate me; your rattling overhead compartments are completely unnerving, and let’s not even talk about your germy blankets and pillows. Honestly, how often do you wash/sanitize/disinfect them? I’m also curious if there’s any truth to the rumors I’ve heard about how dirty your ice is. I avoid your restrooms at all costs and clean the tray table and armrests with wipes as soon as I sit down. Alas, ’tis far easier to conceal my fear in loathing.

While I am 34 years old, I often appear quite younger when there are unexpected bumps and jumps on  a flight. Do me a favor: don’t let your pilots announce turbulence too far in advance lest I start sniveling in my seat. Then again? I’d like them to let me know before the flight attendants get to my row so I can score some of those cute little bottles. Liquid libations quell my fears somewhat, but I’ll still hyperventilate and grab the hand of the stranger seated next to me if it gets that bad.

Essentially, I just can’t stand the idea that I’m 30,000+ feet above ground. That at any moment, your plane’s engine could choke, catch fire and die, and we’d plummet to our death.


Possibly it’s just that I don’t like not being in control, as I’ve often felt if I was the one in the pilot’s seat, flying might not scare me so much. But my fear runs deep, and began when I was young and an unfortunate incident occurred while I was on a Pan Am flight to Houston.

Maybe it’s a fear of death, not just one of lack of control? I don’t really know. All I know is that I feel infinitely safer in my minivan on the ground although statistics people insist on sharing indicate we’re all far safer flying the friendly skies.

Regardless, I am doing my damndest not to pass my fear on to my children. It’s not easy, especially when I fly on my own with them. But I don’t ever want them to know this feeling.


Erin Margolin

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  • Anonymous

    I never used to be a nervous flyer… until after I had kids. And now? I panic. Total mess.

    • Anonymous


      That’s so interesting to me!! Did something happen to trigger it? I think we both need some Xanax!

  • MiMi

    BAHAHAHA! You took this letter out of my head. I hate flying.

    • Anonymous


      I’m glad we share the same fear! Well, not glad, really….but you know what I mean!

  • http://www.reddoorsandramekins.blogspot.com Kelly

    I share your fear. I just about didn’t read your post because I didn’t want to add fuel to the flame. And yes, flying with my children brought this fear to a new level.

    • Anonymous


      So sorry! Hope I didn’t make it worse for you! I also hate when I fly with my husband and leave the kids (i.e. for vacation, which isn’t often). I don’t like to think about what could happen and leaving them behind. Ugh.

  • http://www.fromtracie.com From Tracie

    I have a fear of escalators. I know it sounds crazy, but it is one of my biggest fears. When I was six, a little boy (who was probably about 3) in Sears got a piece of his clothing stuck in an escalator, and I watched as he wet up up up, screaming. His mother screaming. The manager tryed to stop the escalator, but couldn’t get the key to work. In the last second, another employee flipped the switch for the electricity to that part of the store and it stopped. I didn’t ride on another escalator until I was a teen (and then only because of peer pressure). So now, as a mom, when I hold my little girl’s hand and step onto that moving staircase, I have to stop myself from hyperventilating or quickly stepping off and running for an elevator. And as much as I have been careful to never tell her that story, and have forced myself to ride on them with her, she still gets nervous when we ride one, every time.

    My husband (although he has never had a bad plane experience) feels the same way you do about flying. I’m pretty doubtful that I will ever get him on a plane again.

    I’m glad you linked to the older post, it was from before I knew you, so I had never read it before. I got two new Erin Margolin posts today. I love that!

    • Anonymous


      I have heard similar horror stories about escalators before and am so sorry you have to deal with this. It’s no fun…especially since riding on those is a lot more common than having to get on a plane, I’m sure. Thank you for stopping by to read—I’ve been so out of the loop and am trying to get back on track now! xoxo

  • http://www.sexandthesingledad.com Sexandthesingledad

    OK. I was digging this, then I got to the picture of the plane going down in flames–JFK Jr. style– and the post became abso-fucking-lutely rad. Awesome!!!!!!

    • Anonymous


      Yes, sadly that type of image is what regularly pops into my head whenever I think about flying or am on a plane. I hate it. Can’t seem to stop. Maybe I need some hypnosis or something??

  • http://www.wantapeanut.com Jennie B

    It’s amazing how childhood experiences leave us scarred for life! I love that you addressed the letter to the airplane itself, and the line about the ice cracked me up.

    • Anonymous


      Yeah, it’s bad enough that I hate to fly, but then I have to think about what kinds of bacteria are swimming around in my apple juice. Which I refuse to drink warm. Ugh. ;-)

  • Erin

    Ohh you described that fear perfectly!
    I absolutely loathe flying! It doesn’t help I have vertigo and it messes with my head!
    I have yet to fly with my boys but dread it!

    • Anonymous


      Oh no! I can’t imagine adding vertigo to the mix. I’ve never had it, but I’ve heard it’s no picnic for sure. Maybe you can get some good drugs?

  • Dawnmfischer

    Its a common analogy – not being in control/being the passenger of a plane and not the pilot, though you brought intense personal meaning to it! Bravo!
    lol@ sex…dad
    Causes me to wonder, how it is that my own number one fear is heights, yet flying (and I fly often) does not cause me anxiety or worry

    • Anonymous

      That is funny! But my mom’s the same way. She hates heights, but doesn’t really have a fear of flying like I do. Maybe it’s about being in a confined space as opposed to, say, walking on the edge of the Grand Canyon? ;-)

  • Dwmatty

    I’m not crazy about flying, but I do it. That element of knowing you might crash is in the back of my mind, and when we land I feel a sense of relief.

    What you describe in your post about the flight back in 1983 happened to me too. Only I was an adult, and we were over the Atlantic Ocean on my way back from San Juan. We could see dark clouds in the distance and then all of a sudden, we were in those clouds. There was lightening and thunder all around us. It got real dark, and the plane was bouncing and banging and shaking so bad that I thought it was going to come apart. Even the seasoned travelers were afraid. Then just like that we were out of it and it was smooth sailing again. Whew.

    • Anonymous


      I think that’s the worst—when you look around and EVERYONE else is afraid, too. Normally I keep a close eye on others and on the flight attendants. If they look cool, that helps me a bit. But when I was 7 on that flight to Houston? EVERYONE was freaking out. Oy!

  • http://www.theumbels.com Evonne

    Flying never used to bother me. I’ve flown over an ocean, twice, and didn’t have any issues with it. Other than my friend who wouldn’t let me sit by the window!

    One bad flight home from Florida over solid ground? I much prefer driving!

    • Anonymous


      I’ve flown over oceans before, too. NOT my favorite thing, although it usually seems to be smoother when you’re over water for some reason (or maybe coincidence)… I prefer window seats as well so I can see what’s coming/in store. Even though sometimes that makes it worse!

  • Mindy

    So, my fears are actually the opposite of yours. If I don’t have a kid on my lap and the person next to me shuts their trap, I can fall asleep before the plane takes off. This is my preference, actually. I used to kind of like flying, but all of the security hassles and snarky flight attendants make it miserable now. Even turbulance doesn’t get to me that much. I did, however, get in a car accident about 7/8 years ago where I did a full turn on the freeway and hit the side rails (no other cars involved). I just couldn’t get that sense of loss of control out of my head. For years (and still now many would say) I was the worst kind of back seat, grabbing the door, pushing my foot to hit an imaginary brake kind of back seat driver. My husband to this day is still too aggressive for me and I find myself falling into these old habits. We’re supposed to go on a cross-country road trip home this summer and I’m dreading it – hours in a cramped car with no handy bathroom? Now that freaks me out!

    • Anonymous


      How I wish I could fall asleep on the plane! But you’re right—-definitely not with kids around.

  • http://twitter.com/frelle JennaFarelyn

    thank you for sharing this fear with us, and your bravery in facing it every time you fly. I havent read another response about a fear of flying, and you sure have good reason, sorry you went through that!!

    • Anonymous


      I guess I do have a good reason, but it still sucks. I hate being such a coward and feeling like a little kid. I’m not quite as bad as I used to be about it, but…I have a loooooong way to go.

  • http://goodgirlgoneredneck.blogspot.com Andrea B.

    I’m an anxious flier, but not an awful one. I’m bad at takeoffs and landings, but I have a tradition that I wear a hand of G-d to protect me. G-d forbid I should ever fly without it. Seriously. It’s a bit obsessive of me, but it soothes me a little bit. I have not yet flown with my daughter, but we’re getting closer to that and I know I’ll hope that she doesn’t feel it and is as relaxed as her daddy!

    • Anonymous

      That’s a great idea—maybe I need something like that to wear that will protect me….

  • http://twitter.com/tsonoda Terri Sonoda

    I concur. Especially regarding the cleanliness of the ice, pillows, and tray tables. Liquid libations are my salvation when airborne. You tell ‘em Erin!

    • Anonymous


      So I’m not the only one obsessed with these things? ;-)

  • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

    I am not a fan of flying and have been through a few rough spots. I’ll never forget a trip to Israel when the plane was struck by lightning. Flying isn’t something that I avoid, but I tend not to run towards it either.

    • Anonymous


      Struck by lightning? Oh no. I can’t imagine. The storm we flew through when I was 7 was no picnic, but I have no idea/memory if that is actually what happened. Oy. I HATE FLYING!

      • http://www.thejackb.com/ The JackB

        Most of the time I manage to get lost in music or a book. As long as I distract myself time passes pretty quickly. Funny thing is that I really don’t remember or think much about that lightning strike.

        Other moments stick out more than that. I can’t say that they were worse, just more recent.

  • http://www.mommyshorts.com/ Ilana @ Mommy Shorts

    This is the one anxiety I do not possess. Plop me in a seat with a magazine and a mini-tv and I’m just peachy. Add a baby to mix however and all bets are OFF.

    • Anonymous

      I totally agree— flying with kiddos is NOT fun. But at least when I fly with my girls, I am distracted and annoyed and dealing w/ their dramas…so not quite so focused on my fear (which doesn’t mean it goes away completely!).

  • Mama Track

    This was fun. I don’t share the fear but I understand more about it now. Fun take on the prompt.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, Mama Track! I wish I didn’t have this fear. I’ve improved over the last few years, and the more I fly, the better I am about it….but still…argh!

  • http://twitter.com/juliecgardner Julie Gardner

    I hate to fly. H.A.T.E. And I’ve heard all the statistics. I’m a rational human being. I’m 42 years old. But nope. Don’t like to fly.

    So of course, I had to go marry a man whose entire family lives 3,000 miles away from us.


    All our vacations are flying to New York. But not “cool” New York. Manhattan? No. We have to fly to Albany. And then drive two hours to this remote town with 200 occupants – all of whom are related to my husband.

    Not that I’m bitter.

    Just fearful and loathsome. That’s me.

    I like the ground. A lot.

    • Anonymous


      I like the ground a lot, too. And am relieved to know there are others like me who feel exactly the same way and share my fear. Seriously? The last bad flight I had? I was crying and snotting everywhere and my husband was with me! And people around were looking at me (I was pretty much hyperventilating). So mortifying.

  • http://www.theselittlewaves.com GalitBreen

    Oh Erin, I heart your writing. That is all. XO

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Galit. You are always so kind to me. And I hope you know how much I love your writing as well even though I haven’t been around much lately. ;-)

  • Ally

    Loved your choice for this prompt. And I agree with pretty much all of it!!

    • Anonymous

      Hooray, Ally! FRAIDY CAT FLYERS UNITE!

  • ByWordofMouthMusings

    Love to fly because I love to get to another time and place … my kids love to travel too and are excellent fliers. They have not seen me when I quickly close my eye’s and say a prayer when we take off and when we land.
    The inbetween is blissful but I like some reassurance for the rest ;)

    • Anonymous

      My kids love to fly, too. So far I’ve managed to concel my insecurities…I’m hoping the day won’t come when there’s another episode in the air that causes me to lose my cool.

  • http://moveovermarypoppins.com/ CDG

    My Mom shares your fears and we never knew until long after our first flights. My brother and I are both enthusiastic fliers, so it can totally be done.

    You win in the end!

    • Anonymous

      I am sooooo happy to know that—I really hope I can hide it from them. I hate having this fear, and although I’ve gotten much better about it, it’s still definitely there. Ugh.

  • Anonymous

    We’re contemplating a vacation that would require air travel.

    I’ll need some Xanax just to BOOK the flight.

    Is not the flying that scares me. Is the fiery free fall to my death that makes me pee my pants with fear.

    • Anonymous


      May the force be with you! And also Xanax. Share with me? I just booked a flight home to visit family in June. It’ll be just me and the kids. In some ways it’s better because they distract me and I’m constantly having to deal w/ someone and some drama. ANd I’m forced to be a big girl as much as I can….

  • Anonymous

    I remember when I wasn’t afraid of flying. Now? Not so much

    • Anonymous

      We are two peas in a pod then! xoxo

  • Anonymous

    Holy crap after reading about your Pan Am flight I can totally understand your fear and loathing. I would be right with you on that..

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I often wonder if I’d be better about flying if that hadn’t happened. Oh well. ;-)

  • http://www.shadesofblueandgreen.com/ Ash

    That picture cracks me up. In an I-so-get-you kind of way. Hate to fly. Hate. It. But I love to travel. Sigh.

    Need that teleportation technology to move along a little faster.