1. First of all, don’t even think about getting on an airplane! What is wrong with you? What are you, some kind of daredevil??
2. When you must buy plane tickets because someone you love is having some bullshit wedding, think carefully about your seat choice. You might think you want to be near an emergency exit so that you can get on the chute first. But what if the emergency exit door blows off mid-flight? You’d be the first to get sucked out. Don’t say, “I’ll bring a parachute!” You can’t—some people have asked about that, and it’s not allowed. You also don’t want to be too near the middle, because if the plane snaps in half, you’ll end up hanging off the edge like Mufasa, and we all know how that ends.
3. One week before your flight, look up safety statistics and fearful flying tips. A good choice is this one, by the adorably named Captain Stacey Chance. Learn so many things! For instance, did you know that no plane has been shaken out of the sky by turbulence? (Yet?) And that you are more likely to die in almost ANY other way than in a plane crash? (Haha, that doesn’t help.)
4. Two days before the flight, start crying. It helps to worry literally as much as humanly possible, because everybody knows that worrying about something reduces the likelihood that it will happen.
5. Take a Xanax an hour before the flight. This doesn’t help that much, but it weakens your survival instincts. Sometimes it also makes your arms feel like they’re going to fall off, which is just as well, because you might not have any of your body parts pretty soon.
6. When you’re sitting at the terminal, look out the window for clouds. Do some of them look like the kind of clouds that planes could get lost in? If so, call your dad. “Dad, there are weird-looking clouds outside.” “What am I supposed to do about this?” “I’m just letting you know. It’s not too good out there. Not…too…good.”
7. Monitor the departure time. If your flight is delayed, keep in mind that it’s probably because the pilot and crew know that the airplane is full of cracks, and they’re buying time. If your flight is on time: well, that’s weird. It’s almost suspiciously on time.
8. Board the plane. Trace a bunch of religious symbolism on the outside of the plane with your finger as you walk through the door. Instant God-force-shield. Draw a little Yoda too, just to be safe. If you have time, a Dumbledore.
9. Try to make eye contact with the captain. Give him or her a meaningful look when he or she says, “Welcome aboard.” It should be friendly, but stern, but respectful, but threatening. Show that you’re terrified, but also really strong and normal.
10. Take your seat. Watch everyone else get on board. Does anybody look like bad luck? Does anyone look like they have a face that you might see in a newspaper clipping about a plane crash? I can’t describe it. You just know. But also, it’s almost everyone.
11. Look for babies. This is important because a) probably nothing can happen to babies. And b) they’ll be the first to know that something is wrong. They’re like cats.
12. When you’re taking off, think of that part in Say Anything where Diane Court and her hat are really scared, and Lloyd Dobler says most plane crashes happen before the seat belt sign goes off. This would be helpful if taking off weren’t actually taking thirty hours. What the hell kind of plane is this anyway? Some joke plane that takes off forever?
13. Clutch the armrests with all your strength for 1.5-2 hours. If your plane starts to explode a little bit, the adhesion of your fists to your plastic armrests will keep you from dying, probably.
14. Don’t listen to music. Don’t read. Don’t think of anything happy. Think only of your death and your funeral. You would think it would be nice to imagine all your loved ones mourning you and talking about how great you were, but it’s not. If you start to accidentally get a little smug thinking about your exes crying over your death, stop it. You’re practically asking to get killed now.
15. When the flight attendant comes by with the drink cart, ask her if she thinks you guys could “pull over a little early.” She laughs, then looks at your face, then frowns. She hands you your drink. You wish she’d at least give you a wings pin, but she doesn’t.
16. Don’t talk to your seatmate, because he or she might be afraid of flying too. Then you’ll have a fear-off and the plane will commit suicide from listening to the two of you.
17. Don’t go to the bathroom. Getting out of your chair might set the plane’s balance off. Give other people who do get up dirty looks. Ask God to forgive them for being such terrible human beings.
18. If there is turbulence, try not to cry. Cry a little bit, though. Think of good old Captain Stacey Chance. Where is he now? Where is Stacey Chance when you need him?? Goddammit, Stacey Chance.
19. When the captain announces that you’re about to begin your descent, let out one tiny exhalation. (Were you not holding your breath the whole time?? WTF?) Don’t be too relieved though. Sometimes when planes try to land they can’t stop and then they just burst into flames.
20. Get the hell off the plane as soon as you can. Be happier to be in an airport than you’ve ever been in your life. Bless this terminal! Bless this Subway and this Cinnabon! Ne’er have you seen such beauty on this Earth! Oh, youth! Oh, life! Everything is so great when you’re on the ground. Nothing bad ever happens down here.
Katie Heaney lives in Minneapolis and plans to invest her future millions in teleporter technology. Or Portkeys.