Survey Reveals High Fear of Flying Among Americans in 2023

A new study by Upgraded Points has delved deep into the American psyche to uncover the prevalent fear of flying, revealing intriguing state-by-state variations and widespread misconceptions about air travel safety.

“Facing the fear of flying is a daunting task for many Americans,” explained Keri Stooksbury, editor-in-chief of Upgraded Points. “Our study aims to demystify this fear by providing factual insights into the actual risks involved in flying.”

The Study’s Methodology and Key Findings

The study surveyed over 3,100 Americans, including both frequent and occasional flyers, employing a unique fear score based on three factors: the proportion of respondents afraid of flying, their self-reported anxiety levels on a scale from 1 to 10, and their tendencies to arrive early at airports.

Top 5 States Most Afraid of Flying
  1. Florida — 93.3 out of 100
  2. Utah — 74.5 out of 100
  3. West Virginia — 73.4 out of 100
  4. Connecticut — 66.2 out of 100
  5. Massachusetts — 63.9 out of 100

Florida tops the list, with 54% of residents admitting to a fear of flying. West Virginia residents have the highest average fear rating at 5.2 out of 10.

Top 5 States Least Afraid of Flying
  1. New Mexico — 16.0 out of 100
  2. Nebraska — 24.7 out of 100
  3. Kansas — 25.2 out of 100
  4. Colorado — 29.1 out of 100
  5. Illinois — 29.5 out of 100

New Mexico is the least fearful state, with only 18% of residents fearing flying.

USA Fear of Flying survey infographic
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Insights and Statistics on America’s Fear of Flying

  • One-third of Americans (33.5%) admit to being afraid of flying, with women more likely to experience this fear.
  • Among those who have never flown, 74.1% express a fear of flying.
  • About 34.8% resort to medication or alcohol before flights to manage anxiety.
  • Turbulence (38.7%) and airport security (34.8%) are the most anxiety-inducing aspects.
  • Generational differences are evident, with Gen Z stressing about finding gates and baby boomers worrying about getting to the airport.

Safety Instructions and Flight Safety Perceptions

  • A quarter of passengers don’t always listen to safety instructions.
  • Frequent flyers (48.5%) are more likely to pay attention to safety instructions.
  • A majority (58.8%) believe flying is safer than other forms of travel, with 75.2% confident in the increasing safety of air travel over time.

Perception vs. Reality: Unveiling Flight Worst-Case Scenarios

The study also highlights the gap between perception and reality regarding air travel risks:

  • Losing a Bag: Perceived probability is 43.30% vs. actual 0.60%.
  • Flight Delays: Perceived 40.50% vs. actual 22.50%.
  • Plane Crashing: Perceived 34.20% vs. nearly 0.00% (1 in 11 million).
  • Getting Sick: Perceived 26.70% vs. actual 3.00%.

Final Thoughts

The study highlights how states like Florida and Utah have high flying anxiety, while New Mexico and Nebraska are more comfortable with air travel. Despite one in three Americans grappling with this fear, the majority recognize the increasing safety of air travel.

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