The gear • October 2017
If you find flying a terrifying experience or just get modest pre-flight jitters, you’re not alone. One in four travellers admits to feeling anxious during take-off and turbulence – that even includes frequent fliers. The Club’s resident ‘techspert’ picks six gadgets that could help you feel more grounded next time you’re up in the air
British Airways captain Steve Allright (pictured) – who has 14,000 hours of flying under his shoulder stripes and is a director of the Flying with Confidence course – recently released Fly Confidently (free on iOS, with in-app purchases), an offline app that instils a great sense of calm. It covers all aspects of a flight, including the processes, sounds and sensations of taxiing, take-off, cruising, descending and landing. A 50-strong series of informative, bite-sized videos adds further weight to a very competent and intuitively designed app.
Sound is one of the most influential elements on passengers who suffer from flight anxiety. The solution? Cocoon yourself by using wireless, noise-cancelling headphones, which cleverly neutralise ambient sound waves. The collapsible Sennheiser PXC 550 (£330) are Bluetooth-equipped, run for up to 30 hours on a single charge and have touch-sensitive ear cups that provide track skipping and volume adjustment.
Drift off while listening to your own self-created movie score with Drone FX (iPad, £2.99), an easy-to-use musical loop generator that produces long, sequenced ambient soundscapes. Simply select five sound pads from a bank of around 250 pre-sets and fiddle with the sliders to produce a never-ending cycle of extremely calming new age sounds – guaranteed to help the mind while floating above the clouds.
Insight Timer (iOS & Android, free with in-app purchases) is a community-related meditation app that provides access to mesmerising ambient sounds, from running water to Tibetan bells. Once you’ve settled in your seat, switch your phone to flight mode then select the timer function and your flight duration (up to 23 hours and 59 minutes). When you’ve landed and are within Wi-Fi range, log into the app and further relax the mind with one of 6,000 free guided meditations.
If flying makes you fidget nervously in your seat, reach for a bag of Nanodots 216 (£37.50). The cluster of 216 mini magnetic balls can be manipulated into a plethora of wild creations and occupy the mind better than anything a fidget spinner could muster. Just be sure not to pack them too close to your phone, laptop or external hard-drive, as the magnetic field they produce is very strong.
There are numerous solitaire apps on the market, but few hold a candle to Digital Smoke’s Solitaire City Deluxe (iOS & Android, £2.99), a feature-rich and beautifully rendered smorgasbord of 20 varieties of the game. Granted, there’s no scientific proof that a card game alleviates anxiety, but, as this one can be played against the clock, it forces you to concentrate on the task in hand and not what’s going on around you.