Even for the most experienced fliers, turbulence can be unsettling. Though the pockets of air are "uncomfortable, but not dangerous," it's hard for some anxious travelers to overcome the bumps the plane encounters along its journey.
We distract ourselves by snoozing, becoming engulfed in a good book or movie, but sometimes turbulence is hard to ignore. But this weird trick may solve all our anxious problems.
Interested in learning the best way to distract yourself from turbulence, TODAY correspondent Jeff Rossen visited a special turbulence simulator to get some answers. Rossen, along with producer Jovanna, spoke to pilot Captain Ron Neilsen about the best ways to fight the fear of flying -- and his tips were surprising.
Related: Secrets you didn't know
22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you
22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you
1. Want to start off on the wrong foot with me?
Put your carry-on in a full overhead bin, leave it sticking out six inches, then take your seat at the window and wait for someone else (me!) to come along and solve the physics problem you just created. By the way, this is what your flight attendant first notices about you.
2. Yes, passengers are incredibly rude...
..but stealing a beer, cursing out passengers, and jumping out of a plane is not the way to handle it. You disarm an unruly passenger by introducing yourself, asking his name, and saying something like ‘I’ve been incredibly nice to you for three hours. Why are you treating me like this?’ Generally, that gets the other passengers on your side—and sometimes they’ll even applaud.
3. We don't have a boyfriend in every city.
And our median age these days is 44.
4. An all-too-common scenario?
I hand you a cup of coffee and say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ I say, ‘Cream and sugar?’ You say, ‘What?’ Come on, people. What do you think we’re going to ask after we’ve handed you coffee? Your favorite color? (But in all honesty, you probably shouldn't order coffee on a plane.)
5. If you’re traveling with a small child and you keep hearing bells, bells, and more bells...
If you’re diabetic, bring syringes. If you have high blood pressure, don’t forget your medication. That way, I’m not trying to make a diaper out of a sanitary pad and a pillowcase or asking over the intercom if someone has a spare inhaler. Here are some other little flying etiquette rules you know.
8. Just in case you hadn’t noticed, there are other people on the airplane besides you.
So don’t clip your toenails, snore with wild abandon, or do any type of personal business under a blanket!
9. If you’re traveling overseas, do yourself a favor and bring a pen.
You would not believe how many people travel without one, and you need one to fill out the immigration forms. I carry some, but I can’t carry 200. Here are some more tips to know before your next flight.
10. Passengers are always coming up to me and tattling on each other.
‘Can you tell him to put his seat up?’ ‘She won’t share the armrest.’ What am I, a preschool teacher?
11. I hate working flights to destinations like Vail and West Palm Beach.
The passengers all think they’re in first class even if they’re not. They don’t do what we ask. And the overhead bins are full of their mink coats.
12. Do you really have to go to the bathroom right now, while we’re wrestling a 250-pound food cart down the aisle?
You can’t wait 90 seconds for us to pass?
13. Is it that difficult to say hello and goodbye?
I mean it. No one likes to be poked, but it’s even worse on the plane because you’re sitting down and we’re not, so it’s usually in a very personal area. You would never grab a waitress if you wanted ketchup or a fork, would you?
16. I don’t care if you want to be in the mile-high club, keep your clothes on.
Who decided the mile-high club was something that everyone wants to do anyway? It’s cramped and dirty in those bathrooms.
17. If you hear us paging for a doctor...
...or see us running around with oxygen, defibrillators, and first aid kits, that’s not the right time to ask for a blanket or a Diet Coke. Here are some other pet peeves of flight attendants.
18. The only place you are allowed to pee...
...on the airplane is in the lavatory. Period.
19. Don’t ask us if it’s OK to use the lavatories on the ground.
The answer is always yes. Do you think what goes into the toilet just dumps out onto the tarmac?
20. You really expect me to take your soggy Kleenex?
Or your kid’s fully loaded diaper? I’ll be right back with gloves.
21. Sure, I don’t mind waiting while you scour the seatback pocket
...and the floor for candy wrappers and other garbage, then place them in my bag one by one. I only have 150 other passengers to serve.
22. I’m sorry it’s taking forever to get you a wheelchair.
That’s one thing you can’t blame the airline for. The wheelchair service is subcontracted to the cities we fly into, and it’s obviously not a top priority for many of them. Want more insider air travel info? These are the secrets your airplane pilot won't tell you.
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Neilsen suggested to Jovanna to write her name on a piece of paper with her opposite hand.
"It first causes her to focus extra-hard on what she's doing, because she doesn't normally write with her other hand -- and not on the turbulence," explained Neilsen. "And the second thing is, it's actually crossing over her motor function in her brain, using the other side of her brain from what she would normally do. We're disrupting the thinking."
He also suggested breathing through a drinking straw to calm fears.
For more flying tips from the 40-year veteran, watch the video above!
Related: Weird things seen on the plane
Most bizarre things flight attendants have seen
Most bizarre things flight attendants have seen
Poo smelly enough to land a plane
The BBC reports that in March 2015, a British Airways flight from London to Dubai was forced to turn around because of a "smelly poo."
Abhishek Sachdev, who was on board the flight, told BBC, "The pilot made an announcement requesting senior cabin crew, and we knew something was a bit odd. About 10 minutes later he said, 'You may have noticed there's a quite pungent smell coming from one of the toilets.' He said it was liquid fecal excrement. Those are the words he used."
A BA spokesperson said the situation posed a health and safety problem because only half the air is recycled and cleaned on an airplane.
Passengers were put up in a hotel overnight since the next available flight was 15 hours later, according to the BBC.
"A passenger stood on top of the closed toilet and defecated," a flight attendant with 30 years of experience told Business Insider.
Dangerously impatient passengers
In 2014, a passenger on a China Eastern Airlines plane who said he wanted to "get off the plane quicker" deployed the emergency slide after the aircraft landed at Sanya Phoenix International Airport.
The incident caused the aircraft to be delayed for two hours and reportedly cost about $16,000 in damage.
While battery-powered portable electronic smoking devices are permitted on planes as long as they're not checked, the lithium ion batteries in e-cigarettes have shown a propensity to ignite if they are damaged.
Spiders on a plane
Strange item requests
A flight attendant with the pen name Betty writes in her online series "Confessions of a Fed-Up Flight Attendant" that the strangest things people have asked her for on planes are actually fairly ordinary items — what's surprising is what some of these items would be used for.
Items requested include tweezers for pulling thorns out of a passenger's butt; a pen to clean ears with; a screwdriver "to take the seat apart"; and a cup, lid, straw, and knife "to make a catheter."
Strange announcement requests
A flight attendant with three years of experience told Business Insider that she's gotten her fair share of strange announcement requests.
"One gentleman was angry, and he asked me if I could make an announcement over the PA. When I asked him what he wanted me to announce, he he said, 'somebody in this vicinity is passing gas, and I need them to stop,'" she said.
Another passenger asked her to make an announcement asking a neighboring passenger to give up the armrest.
Among the strangest were people who made soup using the airline water. "Guys, the water lines haven't ever been cleaned — ever," she said.
Virtually undetectable turbulence
"One of the weirdest things I experienced was clear-air turbulence. I was bounced between the ceiling and the floor twice and broke my foot in two places when the bar cart landed on it," a flight attendant with 27 years of experience told Business Insider.
The worst place to put a baby
"I know more than one fellow flight attendant who has had the uncomfortable situation of having to tell a woman that she can't breastfeed her ... cat! You read that right: Breastfeeding. A. Cat. And this isn't an isolated incident," Betty wrote.
She says the cat feeders' responses are always the same: "I'm just feeding my 'baby.'"
Betty writes that passengers tend to get more inebriated on flights to Las Vegas. In his drunken state, one passenger passed out while he was in the restroom, fell backward, and ended up on the floor with his fly still down and his privates exposed.
After much debate among the attendants about what to do, "they finally decided to get the long metal tongs that we use to serve bread in first class to move the exposed body part back into his pants! He didn't feel a thing," Betty wrote.
From streaking down the aisle totally nude to falling like an axed tree, when passengers consume an unfortunate mix of Ambien — which people take to sleep on planes — and airplane cocktails, it makes even the most normal people do very bizarre things, Betty says.
"These folks are sleeping, which means they think they are at home and safe in their beds. When they are home and safe in their beds they think it is perfectly acceptable to take off all of their clothes," Betty wrote.
Alas, this is not acceptable behavior on a long-haul international flight.
A severe fear of flying
"I had a woman run to the front of the plane and throw herself in my closet. (She thought she was going to bathroom.) She then curled up in the fetal position in the closet and started sucking her thumb. She later told me that she forgot to take her anxiety medicine before flight," a flight attendant with 30 years of experience told Business Insider.
States of undress
"One passenger attempted to board the plane wearing a raincoat and no pants," a flight attendant with 40 years of experience told Business Insider.
"Never say never. Weirdness will always outdo itself if you challenge it," a flight attendant with 21 years of experience told Business Insider.
"For example, a passenger stole a sandwich off the galley counter. It was a crew member's, who bought it at the airport. They'd taken a bite and left it on the counter (with a little lipstick around the bite mark) to assist someone. When the crew member came back to the galley, it was gone.
"The crew member later found the thief eating it at their seat. When asked how they could just take a used sandwich with lipstick on it, they shrugged and said, 'I was hungry.'"
So many feet!
A bloody mess
"I haven't seen this, but I did have flight attendants tell me about blood dripping from the overhead because someone was bringing in a goat's head from a Caribbean island. That was before TSA and all their security procedures were put in place, of course," Annette Long, a flight attendant with 13 years of experience, told Business Insider.