Aims: To study 1) the prevalence of flight anxiety among Norwegian airline passengers according to sosiodemographic variables 2) situations that make concern during flights and situations not related to flying and 3) whether passengers feel more afraid after the terror act of September 11, 2001.
Methods: A questionnaire was distributed randomly to passengers and completed during domestic flights in Norway in 2002. There were 484 responses (48% women, mean age 41 years and 52% men, mean age 43 years). To asses flight phobia, a six point scale was used, from 0= not afraid at all, to 4= always very afraid, but never cancel flights because of that and 5= always very afraid, and sometimes avoid flying because of that. Grade 4 and 5 were considered flight phobia. A 10-cm visual analogue scale (VAS) was used to measure the degree of anxiety in different situations during flights and in situations other than flying. (0 = no anxiety and 10 = maximum anxiety.)
Results: There were 12 women (5,1%) and one man (0,3%) with flight phobia, seven (1,5%) with grade 4 and six (1,3%) with grade 5. There were 50,8% who were not afraid at all. However, 22 (4,5%) had cancelled flights because of anxiety during the last two years. There were 84 (17,4%) who answered the question about how many years they had been afraid, and 70% of them had been afraid for more than 10 years. Situations that make most concern during flights are turbulence, terrorism and high jacking. In situations other than flying, both men and women are most afraid of heights. After September 11, 48% were not more afraid, 38% a little more, 10% to a moderate degree, 3% to a rather much and 2% very much. The passengers are not more afraid in 2002 than in 1986.
Conclusion: About 3% of Norwegian passengers have flight phobia. Women who fly are significantly more concerned during flights than men. They are also more afraid than men in situations other than flying. The impact of the terror act September 11, 2001 is significant, but rather moderate. The prevalence of flight anxiety among Norwegian airline passengers is the same in 2002 and 1986.