Flying is stressful for almost anyone. There are long waits, cramped spaces, overpriced food, and delays or layovers. For some people, it’s even a fearful experience. It is a genuine phobia; in fact, it’s called aerophobia, and it can cause a lot of angst among some passengers. On the other hand, having a flight attendant that is kind, patient, and gentle can make all the difference.
Flight Attendant Shows Vast Kindness
Floyd Shannon-Dean has touched the hearts of many when he went above and beyond for one anxious passenger. He is a flight attendant for Delta Airlines and clearly a compassionate asset to their team. A photo that’s now gone viral depicts him sitting on the floor next to a crying passenger.
Facebook was flooded with heartwarming responses when Molly Simonson Lee posted the photo. After a January 14th flight from Charlotte, North Carolina, to New York’s JFK airport. “When the woman in the photo boarded, she made it clear pretty quickly that she was anxious about flying. [She] hadn’t flown in a long time.” Lee continued, “About midway through the flight, she had tears streaming down her cheeks.”
She explained, it was then that the compassionate flight attendant took action. “He quickly and calmly came and sat down and took her hand.” She further explained he began talking with the anxious passenger and sat on the floor with her for 5-10 minutes.
Appreciation for Flight Attendant
“With everything flight crews have to deal with and how hard they work. I thought it was incredible that he was spending so much energy to go above and beyond when he didn’t have to.” Lee said. “To see [the flight attendant] being so kind and warm to a stranger, especially when there was no obligation to do anything, was really moving to me.” She also stated, “I hope there is a second chapter to this where we find out that Floyd was promoted and/or got a raise. His actions should be appreciated!”
Delta Airlines has since released a statement, “We are touched by the kindness shown by this flight attendant, working on a Delta Connection flight. And proud that this humanity is displayed by our people every day. Delta and partners are dedicated to embodying warmth and care – the Delta Difference – to ensure our customers enjoy a premium overall experience.“
What is Fear of Flying
Aerophobia is the fear of flying, a real condition estimated to affect around 25 million adults in the US. Weirdly, it’s possible to fly for years before developing the phobia and it is most commonly found in those ages 17-34. According to Cleveland Clinic, the cause is likely because this time period brings about a lot of important changes, milestones, or moments in one’s life. Leading to the realization that one’s safety might be put at risk. Because it’s a fear-induced condition, symptoms are similar to those of an anxiety attack. This may look like dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, trembling, or excessive sweating. However, some good news may be available for those suffering from aerophobia.
Turning to a flight attendant may not always be an option, but NPR published a list of helpful recommendations for staving off an anxiety-induced flight. One suggestion is to talk yourself down. Death from a plane accident is uncommon, and yet our brains rationalize all of the possible things that could go wrong. Dr. Luana Marques is an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard. She explains that staying informed may help you trick your brain into remaining calm. “If you believe planes are dangerous, “every time you see a news article that says a plane crashed, you go, ‘Yep, see? Dangerous. But if you look up how many planes take off and land safely every day, you’ll see that plane crashes are very rare and can talk yourself down from the belief that flying is dangerous,” Marques said.
Keeping Anxiety at Bay
When on a flight, remaining calm is important for both you and the other passengers around you. It is a flight attendant’s responsibility to ensure you have a safe and comfortable flight. They have so much else to do that they can’t always be there to hold your hand like the Delta flight attendant. When this is the case, you can still do other things to help yourself feel better. Another recommendation is to face your fear in small but frequent doses. This technique is called exposure therapy. Dr. Marques says exposure therapy “is the idea that being exposed to something you’re afraid of over and over again calms down your limbic system, so it doesn’t fire up as fast.” She said, “You’re basically moving up a ladder of fear.”
Next, it is suggested that you keep yourself distracted while in flight. Download some shows, play games on your phone, read, or color in adult coloring books. You can also listen to music or a guided meditation. The ultimate goal of this strategy is to keep yourself from fixating on the flight or how much time is left. Additionally, speaking to your doctor about prescription medications might be a helpful resource for those suffering from severe anxiety.
Moreover, your flight attendant may have some additional suggestions. Delta flight attendant, Shannon-Dean, showed an immensity of compassion for his passengers. Furthermore, he represented his company in a way that was not only heartwarming but it also represents his company in a way that reflects their desire to achieve customer satisfaction.
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- “Delta flight attendant goes viral for comforting nervous woman on flight to JFK.” New York Post. Yaron Steinbuch. January 23, 2023
- “Delta flight attendant sits, comforts jittery passenger in touching photo.” FOX 5 Atlanta. Chris Williams. January 25, 2023.
- “Flight attendant goes viral for helping a nervous passenger.” Good Morning America. Haley Yamada. January 25, 2023.