Airport Stress Management Techniques


Have you ever stopped and thought about why people rush to board the aircraft. It occurred to me a few years ago and at that moment, I stopped, sat there and had one of those light-bulb moments. Before the counter is even open, there usually are long lines of people standing for extended periods of time just waiting to get on the plane.

There is no rule that says if you do not get on the plane first then it will leave without you. If you have a boarding pass, you’re getting on the plane so why rush? There is also a lot of stress and anxiety normally in the air at this moment, so I have put some anxiety management techniques to help you have a better travel experience.


Priority Boarding


If you are like me, this is not the category you fall into. Priority boarding is reserved for First, Business and Economy Plus classes in addition to Frequent Flier program members and a select few other categories. So unless you are part of these groups, just chill out, you will be allowed on the plane.

I have seen people standing in these queues almost fuming when these other groups pass them or when they are made to stand aside and it made no sense until my wife put it in terms that even I could understand. We are all living in a “me-first” world where the good of the many is sacrificed for self-interest and promotion. That has become so ingrained in us that even when we logically know that there is a place on board for us, some will still be subconsciously reacting emotionally to this.

This is actually a subconscious stress trigger that can put us on edge without even realizing it. I have adapted my boarding procedure to include staying seated until the lines have shortened considerably as there will still be a wait on the other side where people are trying to find their seats.

I have addressed this point in a bit more detail below and have included a video on how this can be practically handled with only small adjustments to how conduct ourselves.


Overhead Storage


The worst that can happen when boarding slightly later than others is that you might not have space enough for your carry on right above your or in the absolute worst case, this might go in the hold. If this happens, there is no need to panic that this will be a security problem as there is almost no time even for the professional thief to rummage through your carry on and you will get it back when you disembark.

I had the experience recently flying to Stockholm, Sweden, where there the flight was full with a film crew filming the Amazing Race Reality Show. They took all their expensive camera equipment with them as carry on luggage and let me tell you, there was absolutely no overhead storage for anyone as they made sure to be the first ones on the flight. So it did not matter when you boarded, in that case, nobody got a space in the overhead storage other than the film crew.


~~Click Here For Tips On Better Sleep on Long Haul Flights~~


Mental Preparation and Body Language


There was a recent interview analysis of a really uncomfortable interview of Dr. Jordan Peterson where the YouTuber “Charisma on Command” highlights the influence of body language on our minds and the way we react to various situations. In the interview, the interviewer baits Dr.Peterson a number times trying to draw him into a confrontation and yet he remains calm during this period even though most would not have been able to.

The reason he was able to remain calm is that he maintained a relaxed body posture that was sending subconscious messages to the brain telling it that it did not have to activate the fight or flight response. Even though mentally the baiting and confrontation was going on, this physical interference prevented his mind from escalating to a heightened state of aggression or engagement.

When I watched this, I thought I would try this and it really works. If there are delays or problems while boarding, force your body to assume a relaxed posture. This goes a long way in keeping the mind calm and preventing stress and aggression from building up. So by relaxed posture, this means to sit back, with legs slightly apart and arms either stretched out or a relaxed posture. Crossing arms or sitting forwards are signs to the brain of either imminent danger or that it needs to prepare to defend itself. These are all stresses that will put you on high alert even before joining the Que to board.


Final Thoughts


There are small things that when you are made aware of them, can have major influences on your holiday as a whole. For those that think posture does not have that big an influence on the psyche need to remember that everything is connected and just because it is not a cognitive thought or action does not mean there is no subconscious influence or action taking place without you even knowing it.

So take it from me, sit back, relax, enjoy the view and remember, your place is guaranteed and you will land at your destination at the same time as everyone else….even the first class passengers.

I would love to hear what you think of this so please leave me something in the comments section and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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8 Responses

  1. W.E. Helper says:

    I love these stress management techniques for airports – brilliant!  I found the sections on mental preparation and body language particularly helpful.  Seeing how the mind-body connection can play out is so interesting – when you can’t calm the mind, calm the body instead and the mind will follow!  I’ve always found airports to be stressful, so I will keep these strategies in mind next time I travel.  Thanks so much!

    • Richard says:

      There is so much we still do not understand about how the mind really works but this is a great example of a simple technique that can have huge implications on your travel experience.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.


  2. swangirl says:

    Those are great suggestions. I did not realize assuming a relaxed position could actually help keep our brains calm! I watched the video and it was full of great tips as well! These pointers should make anyone better at diffusing an awkward situation weather it is in the airport or in an interview. 

    Personally I am not in a huge rush to get on a plane either. I would be if there was a situation like the one you describe where all the carry on space is taken up though! It is nice to be able to get into your seat and get situated without crawling over someone else as well. 

    When getting off a plane I don’t rush unless I have a tight connection. I am happy to wait for the traffic to die down first. 

    • Richard says:

      I was astounded how our posture is able to influence our subconscious which like you said was brought out in the video. Sometimes it just takes someone to put into words what we subconsciously feel already.

      I am far more relaxed once I have let the stressed people disembark exactly as you have described. 

      Thanks for leaving a comment.


  3. cristina says:

    Hello there,

    Tell you the truth i am never in a rush or in need for a priority boarding. i think we all go in the same plane so arrive in the same time, isn’t it? What for the stress? 

    You are right a relaxed body help you have a relaxed mind. Good point here.

    I loved your post and for sure, next time i travel, sit back, relax my body , chill out and maybe read a book. This is what i usually do when flying. i like to read something.

    Thanks for a nice and relaxing read and of course very helpful.


    • Richard says:

      It has been an eye opening experience to note how important body language is when related to how we react to certain potentially stressful situations. Reading relaxes me too which is why good books are never far from me when traveling.

      Thanks for leaving a comment.


  4. Cory Haasnoot says:

    I also have noticed that people at the airport get crazy. When I fly I try to take it as easy as I can but sometimes that’s harder to do than it seems. All those people rushing around and some with very high anxiety. I like to bring along a good book to read. That helps calm my nerves and makes me relaxed. I will have to try the body posture next time and see if that helps me more. Thanks for the informative article.

    • Richard says:

      Its important to learn how our bodies react in certain situations and reading I find has a relaxing effect on me too. The body language aspect was something I only recently started to take note of after watching this video.

      I am glad that you have taken something practical away from this article and thanks for leaving a comment.


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