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Which U.S. States Are Most Afraid of Flying? [Data Survey]

Alex Miller's image
Alex Miller
Alex Miller's image

Alex Miller

Founder & CEO

Countries Visited: 34U.S. States Visited: 29

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
Keri Stooksbury's image

Keri Stooksbury


Countries Visited: 44U.S. States Visited: 28

With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

We may be compensated when you click on product links, such as credit cards, from one or more of our advertising partners. Terms apply to the offers below. See our Advertising Policy for more about our partners, how we make money, and our rating methodology. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone.

Sharks, heights, and flying — these are some of Americans’ most common fears, and they’re not unfounded. Whether it’s the turbulence, the fear of heights, or the loss of control, the extreme fear of flying — aerophobia — isn’t easy. Enduring these anxieties at 35,000 feet in the air can be a daunting experience. Your mind may start to race, beads of sweat can form, and suddenly, you’re gripped by the fear of a potential crash.

To determine which states harbor the most fear of flying, we surveyed over 3,000 Americans, delving into their flying nightmares. Continue reading to discover which states embrace the skies with ease and which ones might be skipping their flight.

Which U.S. States Are Most Afraid of Flying?

U.S. map showcasing which U.S. states are most afraid of flying
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

Wondering how fearful your state is of flying? We’ve assessed each state’s fear score using 3 key factors: the percentage of respondents afraid of flying in each state, their level of fear on a scale from 1 to 10, and how early they typically arrive at airports. Find out whether your state’s residents can handle the challenges of air travel, including pressure changes, turbulence, and liftoff.

The top 5 states most afraid of flying are: 

  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 takes the top spot as the most fearful state when it comes to flying, with 54% of residents sharing this fear, closely followed by Utah, where 43% of respondents fear flying. In West Virginia, the average resident rates their fear of flying at 5.2 out of 10 — the highest in the nation. 

The top 5 states least afraid of flying are: 

  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 emerges as the least fearful state, with only 18% of residents considering themselves afraid of flying. New Mexico is also the only state where less than 20% fear flying.

In Nebraska, the average resident rates their fear of flying at a low 3.3 out of 10. Kansas boasts 72% of respondents who claim to have no fear of flying.

Fear of Flying in America: Insights and Statistics

Infographic showcasing statistics about fear of flying
Image Credit: Upgraded Points

We delved into various aspects of this common phobia to better understand Americans’ fear of flying. From the prevalence of preflight rituals like having a drink to the most anxiety-inducing parts of air travel, our survey revealed some interesting insights.

On the Fear of Flying: 

  • 1 in 3 (33.5%) Americans admit to being afraid of flying, with women being 11.8% more likely to experience this fear than men.
  • Surprisingly, among those who have never flown, 74.1% express a fear of flying.

On Avoiding Trips: 

  • Of those who have never flown, 59.3% have missed out on travel opportunities due to their fear of flying.
  • 19.5% of the general population have skipped trips because of their flying anxiety. 

On Coping Strategies: 

  • Roughly 34.8% of individuals with a fear of flying resort to medication and/or alcohol before a flight to manage their anxiety.

On the Most Stressful Flight Moments: 

  • 38.7% find turbulence to be the most anxiety-inducing part of a flight.
  • 34.8% consider the airport security process the most stressful aspect of flying.
  • 34.3% are most anxious during the flight itself.
  • 11% identify exposure to germs (e.g., COVID-19) as the most stressful aspect of flying.
  • Interestingly, Gen Z is more likely to stress about finding their gate (12.4%), while baby boomers worry more about getting to the airport (16%).

On Seat Preferences:

  • A surprising 12.6% would avoid sitting in an exit row, and 21.7% would sit there, but it would stress them out.
  • Men are 9.8% more willing than women to sit in an exit row.

On Safety Instructions:

  • Alarmingly, 1 in 4 passengers admit to not listening to safety instructions on every flight.
  • Less than half (48.5%) of frequent flyers pay attention to safety instructions during flights.
  • 28.2% fail to identify the nearest exit row when instructed.

On Flight Safety: 

  •  A majority (58.8%) believe that flying is safer than other forms of travel like driving.
  • An even higher percentage, 75.2%, are confident that air travel is becoming increasingly safe over time.

Perception vs. Reality: Flight Worst-Case Scenarios Unveiled

Ever wondered about the actual likelihood of your plane getting hijacked or your luggage going missing at the airport? We quizzed participants on how probable they thought these events were. Brace yourself for the startling disparity between perception and reality:

  • Losing a Bag: Participants assumed a 43.30% probability, but in reality, it’s a mere 0.60%.
  • Flight Delays: The assumed probability stands at 40.50%, while the actual figure is 22.50%.
  • Plane Crashing: Shockingly, people guessed a 34.20% probability, but it’s actually nearly 0.00% — a 1 in 11 million chance, to be exact.
  • Flight Cancellation: Estimated at 29.60%, the actual probability is a modest 1.70%.
  • Getting Sick: Believed to be 26.70%, the real probability is 3.00%.
  • Plane Getting Hijacked: Participants assumed a 16.10% likelihood, but it’s a 0.00% (1 in 10.4 million chance).


We surveyed more than 3,100 participants, encompassing both frequent and infrequent flyers. The fear score is derived from a combination of the percentage of respondents afraid of flying, their self-reported fear levels on a scale of 1-10, and how early they typically arrive at airports. Please note that certain states, including Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming, were excluded from the analysis due to insufficient sample sizes. Our actual probability data is sourced from BTS, PBS, FiveThirtyEight, and PNAS.

Final Thoughts

Fear of flying affects even the most seasoned travelers, with states like Florida, Utah, and West Virginia ranking high on the anxiety scale. In contrast, states like New Mexico and Nebraska seem unfazed by the idea of flying. Our survey reveals that 1 in 3 Americans grapple with this fear, but there’s a silver lining: a majority of respondents believe that air travel is steadily becoming safer. We encourage you to confront your fear of flying and soar through the skies with confidence!

Alex Miller's image

About Alex Miller

Founder and CEO of Upgraded Points, Alex is a leader in the industry and has earned and redeemed millions of points and miles. He frequently discusses the award travel industry with CNBC, Fox Business, The New York Times, and more.


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