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Flight or fright: 59% of young Aussies fear flying – and their fears are growing

May 8, 2019 Statistics & Trends No Comments Email Email

New data reveals that 37 per cent of Aussies are afraid of flying – with the fears higher among under-30s, at 59 per cent. Worse still, our anxiety about flying is growing, despite statistics suggesting that air travel has become measurably safer over the past 3 decades.

The findings come from a survey of an independent, nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian adults who have travelled in the last six months[2], commissioned by InsureandGo (, Australia’s travel insurance specialist.

The 37 per cent of Aussies who admitted to having fears about flying experienced anxiety when taking off, landing or due to turbulence. For 56 per cent of Aussies who fear flying, the fear has increased in the last five years, which contradicts a decrease in the risks posed by flying over the same period.

Which age groups fear flying the most?

In addition, the survey results found that the younger the traveller, the more likely they are to fear flying internationally, with 17 per cent of under 30s declaring their fear, followed by 17% of those in their 30s, 9 per cent of 40-49 year olds, 6 per cent of those aged 50-59, and only 4 per cent of over 60s.

However, the results show at least half of respondents, regardless of age group, reported they have come to fear flying more now than they did 5 years ago. Fear of flying has increased for 50 per cent of under 30s, 70 per cent of 30-39 year olds, 58 per cent of those in their 40s, and 51 per cent of those over 50 years old.

Which planes do we fear the most?

The survey respondents were asked which types of planes they fear flying with the most. Surprisingly, there was negligible difference between the proportion of travellers who fear flying on small planes and large planes. Among travellers who fear flying, just over one in three (35 per cent) fear small planes with exposed double propellers used for regional flights. Thirty-one (31) per cent fear flying most on medium sized passenger aeroplanes, normally used for domestic flights. Thirty-three (33) per cent most fear large passenger aircraft, like those used for international flights, such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A380s.

What causes our fears?

The estimated worldwide air traffic last year was 37.8 million flights, with the accident rate being one fatal accident per 2.52 million flights[3]. Despite these statistics, when accidents do occur, they are widely reported and gain a great deal of media attention, and this is reflected in the findings. Hearing news of plane accidents heightened the fear of flying among 39 per cent of respondents – and 56 per cent of under-30s respondents. In contrast, 73 per cent of over-60s and 66 per cent of those in their 50s weren’t affected by such news.

InsureandGo spokesperson, Jonathan Etkind, says: “While the findings reveal a large proportion of Aussies, particularly young people, fear flying, flight-related accidents are a rare occurrence. When accidents do occur, however, they are widely reported and gain a great deal of media attention, which can contribute to travellers’ heightened fear. Instead, travellers should be warier of on-ground incidents that are more likely to happen, such as overseas medical expenses, theft and lost luggage. Since travel always has some element of risk, it’s essential that travellers purchase an appropriate level of travel insurance cover. Doing this ensures they have the best support if something were to occur, and that they can avoid any out-of-pocket expense due to unforeseen events.”

Here are InsureandGo’s top four tips to maximise your safety when travelling:

  1. Research your destination’s neighbourhoods to find suitable accommodation. Eliminate the likelihood of theft and crime by researching the country and areas you are visiting. Avoid booking accommodation in unsafe areas, even if this means paying a bit more.
  2. Check Smartraveller and register your trip. Ensure you stay safe and informed by creating a Smartraveller account and registering your travel itinerary. You’ll benefit from updates on a range of topics including important security alerts, and advice for different types of travel, such as helpful tips for backpackers, or those travelling with children.
  3. Protect yourself with the right comprehensive travel insurance policy. It’s essential that you purchase an extensive policy that covers your specific travel requirements. For instance, InsureandGo’s Gold One-Trip policy provides up to $750 coverage for delayed baggage, which can be particularly useful when flying. If sports activities are planned for the trip, ensure you have the relevant additional upgrade such as winter sports cover if skiing or golf cover if you’re bringing your golf equipment.
  4. Limit carrying and wearing valuables. Split up your credit cards and cash into different bags and locations. Leave some cards and cash locked in your hotel safe with items like your passport. Try not to draw attention to any valuables or electronics you are carrying and store them away in secure locations if you must carry them with you.
What type of flight do you fear? Overall 18- 29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50-59 years 60+ years
Yes, mostly domestic flights 6% 14% 8% 6% 3% 3%
Yes, mostly international flights 10% 17% 17% 9% 6% 4%
Yes, both domestic and international flights 21% 28% 19% 21% 22% 17%
I don’t experience any kind of fear of flying 63% 41% 56% 64% 69% 76%


Of those who fear flying, has your fear of flying increased in the last 5 years? Overall 18- 29 years 30-39 years 40-49 years 50-59 years 60+ years
Yes, I fear flying more now than before 56% 50% 70% 58% 51% 51%
No, I fear flying less now than before 44% 50% 30% 42% 49% 49%

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