Being afraid of flying is more common than one would think; one out of three people are afraid of flying to some degree. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most treatable phobias with a high success rate.

How to overcome fear of flying

We can help you! Our fear of flying course will allow you to:

  • Travel with confidence
  • Fly without stress
  • Learn techniques to control your anxiety
  • Understand how airplanes fly

Your chance of success

To ensure the highest possible chance of success, our course is backed by scientific research and our instructors are active aviation professionals and experienced behaviour therapists. In addition, a team of clinical psychologists and behavioural therapists will determine if participants will truly benefit from the course and they will also guide participants over the two days.

What is fear of flying?

Fear of flying (or aviophobia) is often described as the intense fear of being on an airplane. However, fear of flying can be experienced at any other moment related to air travel. For example, during the booking process, when packing, or on the way to the airport.

Being afraid of flying is more common than one would think; one out of three people are afraid of flying to some degree. Air travel has undoubtedly become an essential part of modern life. A fear of flying can therefore drastically limit life’s possibilities, both in private and professional spheres. For example, a business man can miss career opportunities because he’s unable to meet partners abroad, the family has limited holiday options because mum had a bad flight in the past and so on. Fortunately, it’s also one of the most treatable phobias with a high success rate.

Fear of flying is also an umbrella term for more specific fears such as:

  • Fear of landing / take-off
  • Fear of turbulence
  • Fear of not being in control of the plane
  • Fear of plane crashes

Being scared of flying exists as a phobia in itself but it can also be a symptom of another, larger disorder. Common underlying causes of fear of flying are:

  • fear of large spaces (agoraphobia)
  • fear of confined spaces (claustrophobia)
  • fear of heights (acrophobia)
  • anxiety disorders

As with all phobias, the fear level will differ from person to person. Some people are still capable of flying, while others will go to extreme measures to avoid any type of air travel.

What causes fear of flying?

Some travellers experience fear of flying after an unpleasant flight experience. A bad flight experience can have a negative effect on other flight experiences in the future. Others causes are related to the overestimation of the risk of an accident. Air travel is one of the safest means of travel; it is even vastly safer than travel by car or train. Unfortunately, this can be hard to recall with the heavy media coverage of airplane crashes, airport incidents and terror attacks involving airports or planes.

Another common cause is the fear of not being in control. For some people it can be quite scary to put their lives in the hands of someone else, even though pilots put flight safety at the very top of their priorities.

Finally, fear of flying can also be part of a bigger underlying issue. In this case, fear of flying is a symptom rather than an independent phobia. For example, a person with claustrophobia may be afraid of flying because the aircraft cabin is a confined space or someone suffering from anxiety disorder may feel an extreme fear of getting a panic attack on board.

Course created by

  • Brussels Airlines

    Brussels Airlines is the leading Belgian airline and a member of the Lufthansa Group and Star Alliance. From our hub at Brussels Airport, we connect the capital of Europe to more than 90 destinations in Europe, Africa, North America and Asia.

  • Brussels Airport

    Brussels Airport is Belgium’s main airport and connects Brussels to more than 200 destinations worldwide through 78 international airlines. Nearly 22 million passengers choose to fly via Brussels Airport, making it one of the most important economic hubs of the country.

  • Ghent University

    Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of Belgium’s top universities. The Department of Experimental Clinical and Health Psychology of Ghent University has put together some practical treatment guidelines based on behaviour therapy that offer the best possible chances of success.

Our course

fear of flying course

Enrolment steps and course programme

  • 1

    Before the course

    Registration and payment
    After completing the registration form, you will receive an email with payment instructions. The registration fee for this course is € 999, VAT included (or € 825.62, excl. VAT). Included in the price: Analysis of the questionnaires, interview with a psychotherapist, the entire two-day programme at the airport, a return flight under supervision of a psychotherapist on a commercial flight, meals, coffee breaks and airport car park.

    Complete the questionnaire
    Once we have received your payment, you will receive another email with a login and password. With these credentials you can access the 5 questionnaires that will help our psychotherapists understand your particular fear of flying better.

    Completing the questionnaires should take no more than 30 minutes.

    In-person interview with a psychotherapist
    When a psychotherapist has fully assessed your questionnaire results, they will contact you personally for an in-depth interview. The results of the questionnaire and the interview will determine if you are a suitable participant for the treatment.

    Should the psychotherapist decide that you have other causes that need to be treated first, the registration fee will be fully refunded.

  • 2

    During the course

    The fear of flying course consists of two parts, on two separate days. During these days, you will meet several airline professionals and psychotherapists who will provide you with guidance.

    Day 1: Theory – How planes work and how to manage fear

    You will get a detailed explanation of the many technical aspects of flying by experienced Brussels Airlines pilots, while specialized psychotherapists will give you a better understanding of fear and how to overcome it.

    See full programme
    • Welcome
    • Introduction
    • The ins and outs of flying

      How does an aircraft fly? How is an aircraft constructed? What are the sounds one hears on board and what do they mean? How safe is an aircraft and how is flight safety ensured? A Brussels Airlines pilot explains.

    • Aircraft visit

      Guided aircraft visit with the pilot. Learn all about important aircraft parts such as flaps, slats and speed breaks. The flight instruments in the cockpit are explained and you will learn more about what you experience as a passenger in the cabin.

    • Lunch break
    • Psychological education

      What is fear and how can you learn to overcome it? A closer look at the anxiety symptoms one can experience. Tips & tricks for getting through your flight.

    Day 2: Practice – Flight day

    To overcome your fear, it is essential to put what you’ve learned into practice. On our course, we don’t use a flight simulator; we go on a real Brussels Airlines flight. You will be guided in small groups by the psychotherapists. The crew on the flight is also notified of your attendance and they will keep an eye on you as well.

    See full programme
    • Briefing

      Group discussion about each other’s anxieties and expectations. Preparations for the flight are taken together with the psychotherapists.

    • Bus to the airport

      Bus ride to the airport with the other participants and psychotherapists.

    • Outward flight

      Flight accompanied by a psychotherapist. Normally a flight of about 90 minutes is chosen.

    • Intermediary evaluation

      At the destination airport there will be about half an hour to prepare for the return flight and to analyse the anxieties experienced.

    • Return flight

      You return to Brussels. Your psychotherapist is still with you, but you should now be ready to do this on your own.

    • Evaluation and debriefing

      How did you experience the return flight and were there any problems? Discussion with your therapist and fellow participants.

  • 3

    After the course

    You will be asked to complete the questionnaires a second time to evaluate your progress. You chances of success are high. Of our participants, 81.3% have fully conquered their aviophobia and can now fly with confidence, while the remaining 18.7% are considerably less fearful and capable of flying without stress.

Our team

Workshop in Dutch:

  • Barbara Depreeuw, Clinical psychologist – behavioural therapist (
  • Marieke Impens, Clinical psychologist – behavioural therapist (
  • Peter Vanden Bilcke, Clinical psychologist – behavioural therapist (
  • Birger Naert, Co-pilot Airbus A330 Brussels Airlines
  • Luc Michiels, Captain Airbus A319/A320 Brussels Airlines
  • Jan Verbeke, Coordinator fear of flying course Brussels Airlines

Workshop in French:

  • Hilde Nachtergael, Clinical psychologist, specialization in psychotherapy (
  • Guy Sydor, Clinical psychologist, specialization in psychotherapy and social psychology (
  • Denys Ghymers, Captain Airbus A319/A320 Brussels Airlines
  • Luc Michiels, Captain Airbus A319/A320 Brussels Airlines
  • Jan Verbeke, Coordinator fear of flying course Brussels Airlines

Fear of flying course: Enrol here

Complete the enrolment form below.

Afterwards, you’ll receive an email with further instructions.

For more details in the enrolment steps and the course programme, go here.

Attention: The course is only available in Dutch and French. A good working knowledge of Dutch or French is needed to participate to the course.
Participants need to be at least 18 years old.