How to Stay Calm During Turbulence

Remember that turbulence is common in air travel, not just on doomed flights.

Keep in mind that turbulence is simply a result of flying through fluctuating pressure pockets of air, so it’s really the ground you should feel anxious about.

Keep the plane in the air with your thoughts—because, hey, it won’t work if you don’t try it and maybe all the worrying will make you so tired that you simply conk out.

Flap your arms. (There’s only so much thinking a person can do.)

Focus on the fact that you paid real money for two hours of the world’s worst Wi-Fi, and an emergency landing might be more pleasant than forking over more for another two spotty hours—because you will, to Google “zrrrrrmpthft followed by a kachunkata thud normal sound for near plane wing?”

Apologize to your seatmate for sending their thirty-dollar salad flying into the aisle with your arm-flapping and maybe try explaining to them why you were flapping your arms in the first place so they can better understand your intentions as they brush crushed croutons out of their ponytail.

Watch “Top Gun: Maverick” on your in-flight entertainment system to get an idea of what true turbulence—and friendship—really looks like.

Invite your seatmate to watch “Top Gun: Maverick” on your screen now that you’ve finished it—their screen is covered in green-goddess dressing—so that they can see what forgiveness and moving on from the past really look like.

Recall that time you tried to take an international train, but it was actually nine regional trains and none of them had seats, so you kept having to stand in that place between train cars and you breathed in so many fumes that you began to believe that a college student’s duffel bag was a German shepherd who deserved a nice scratch behind the ears. That trip didn’t have any turbulence, and look—you still puked all over the place.

Stop flapping your arms. (There’s only so much flapping a person can do.)

Realize that if the plane crashes, it won’t be your fault—unlike everything else in the world, according to your seatmate. Also according to the flight attendants, who have stopped responding to your incessant dings. And to the pilot, who couldn’t be bothered to respond to the “IS EVERYTHING O.K.?!” note that you wrote on a napkin and slid under the cockpit door. And to the sky marshal, who demanded to have a word with you as soon as he was done watching “Top Gun: Maverick.”

Google “therapy” if you still have access to Wi-Fi.

Buy two additional hours of Wi-Fi and constantly refresh your social-media feeds that can’t quite load until you’ve totally forgotten about the turbulence.

Start flapping your arms again (if only to try and wave the elusive Internet signal toward your phone).

Finally get online and read a viral thread about a “super-annoying guy” who flapped his arms for the duration of a flight that was “barely even bumpy,” filling the cabin with panicked perspiration and flecks of withered kale.

Show the viral thread to your seatmate and ask whether it reminds them of anyone before sharing a laugh and finally feeling like the thirty-dollar salad incident is behind you.

Compose an equally if not more compelling thread that explains your now viral actions and how they have absolutely nothing to do with the several tiny bottles of vodka you sucked down before takeoff, but find yourself unable to post it owing to the Wi-Fi once again cutting out.

Take note that the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign has been turned back on.

Suffer through one last loud thump—landing.

Clap (if your arms aren’t too tired).

Rejoice, for you have escaped the clutches of turbulence and flapped your way to live another day.

Remember that you have a connecting flight in twenty minutes. ♦

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