Overseas travel can be stressful, but one passenger took his relaxation routine to the extreme this week when he refused to sit in his seat during meal service.
The passenger, 72-year-old Hyongtae Pae from Korea, wanted to do yoga and meditate in the back of the plane. When the flight crew told him to return to his seat, Pae became agitated.
The disagreement escalated to the point that five Marines seated nearby got up to help restrain Pae, but Pae only bit and head-butted them.
The plane, en route from Honolulu to Japan, was forced to turn back to its start location. Pae is now facing a $25,000 bond and official orders to seek a mental health evaluation in Hawaii before boarding a plane again.
Pae told the FBI that he recently took up yoga to help with anxiety. The flight was stressful and he had not gotten enough sleep on his trip. He was only trying to calm down!
But the fact remains, when it comes to in-flight safety, it is imperative that passengers obey flight crew instructions while in the air—even when they’re feeling anxious. If Pae’s story can teach us anything it’s that coping with stress while traveling is challenging but crucial.
What are some better ways to relax onboard?
Here Are 5 Tips to Calm Your Nerves on Airplanes—Without Blocking the Aisle!
Being stuck inside a tiny airplane seat where you’re not in control of anything and the world hurtles by at 600 miles per hour can be an unpleasant experience at best. For many people like Mr. Pae, flying can be a nightmare. Here’s what you can do:
- Ask for a seat near the front of the plane.
Turbulence is always worse at the back of the aircraft. So if you’re distressed by a bumpy ride, snag yourself a seat as close to the front of the cabin as possible. You’ll also get to be one of the first to exit when the plane lands. Plus, letting the flight crew know ahead of time that you’re prone to mid-flight panics might make them be extra nice to you. It’s worth a try, right?
- Distract yourself.
You don’t need to disrupt the flight attendants by practicing your latest yoga moves in the aisle in order to distract yourself with a calming activity. Watch a movie, read a book, or do a crossword puzzle. Drink one or a few of those mini wine bottles and doze off while listening to some peaceful tunes on your headphones. You don’t have to be a jerk to be zen.
- Don’t forget to breathe.
This one might sound obvious, but remembering your deep breathing exercises really can do wonders for your peace of mind. Inhale slowly for eight counts, then exhale for eight counts. In fact, breathing is a major component of yoga and meditation. But the secret here is that you can still do it without causing a $25,000 transoceanic emergency.
- Avoid coffee and other stimulants.
Coffee, caffeine and other stimulants can cause a hyperactive state of mind. So if you’re anxious about in-flight anxiety, think about skipping the usual stop at Starbucks on the day you’re traveling. If you’re really desperate for a warm beverage to wash down your non-caffeinated pills, try a relaxing herbal tea. Or just plain water. Dehydration can exacerbate your nerves.
- The rubber band technique.
This one might sound like it’s straight out of the book of Sade, but psychology proves that it actually works. Wear a rubber band around your wrist, and if you ever feel yourself becoming upset or irritated, snap the rubber band against your skin. This technique is usually recommended to troubled teenageers, but let’s be honest. Sometimes airplane anxiety is very troubling. The sting of the rubber band snap just might help take your mind off the turbulence.
There’s no need to cause disruption on an airplane. With these easy stress management tricks, you’ll be able to handle even the snarkiest and most condescending of flight attendants.
Go out and fly without fear, fellow travelers!
On long flights over the Pacific, I have found areas toward the back of the plane where I had enough room to do my 20-minute relaxation poses. I was never in the way of the meal service or lavatories. It’s just common sense and consideration for the flight attendants and the other passengers.
My favorite was the near the rear upstairs stairwell on the A380. The stairway is hardly used in flight and is good for stretching.
It always makes for good conversation, as long as you’re polite and relaxed, which is the whole purpose of yoga anyway.