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Not everyone loves to fly. Not everyone believes that humankind belongs in the elevated company of birds and alien air craft. There are several things an infrequent and reluctant flyer can do to make the flight a bit more comfortable and hasten the happy ending and safe landing.

Know your neighbors: Introduce yourself to your seat mates or those across the aisle from you. A simple extended hand and a: "Hi, my name is Laura, and I hate to fly" will break the ice nicely. If you are lucky enough to be seated next to someone with a sense of humor, you can ask them to help you with your oxygen mask (after securely fastening their own, of course) in the event the cabin loses pressure. Humor is a fabulous tension reliever and sharing your fears with another human being often lessens their intensity.

Relaxation in, relaxation out - Bring a cassette or CD player with you and fill your ears and mind with your favorite music, relaxation tapes, and books on tapes. This will help create a private little world of solitude for you and will reduce the monotonous and irritating noise from the plane's engines. At the very least, bring some ear plugs with you to muffle the ongoing auditory assault.

A busy mind - Work a crossword puzzle; preferably a difficult one. This can be more engrossing in the air than on the ground, and you may find that entire minutes slip by in which you are not thinking of the altitude at which you sit.

Just say "yes" to the in-flight beverage cart - If you enjoy alcoholic beverages and are flying for pleasure and not business, by all means have a drink. Just one at that altitude seems to take the hard edges off and allow some of the rigid tension to melt away.

Borrow a kid - If you should find yourself seated next to or near a young child, try to observe their perceptions of the flight. You will find that most young ones thrill to the experience and perhaps their glee will spill over, causing you to feel as if you are on a most exhilarating amusement park ride. At the very least, their uncensored spontaneous reactions will force you to giggle in spite of your own very serious and nervous self.

Use the window seat - If you are a control freak whose fears spring from the fact that you are not in control and do not have your own capable hands on the wheel here, look down a lot from your window seat. Having an orientation point in the physical world of where the plane is and what it is flying over can be oddly reassuring.

Avoid the window seat - If the terror of the sheer height overwhelms you, do not look out the window at all. Remind yourself, as if in a mantra-induced meditative state, that there are thousands of flights that take off and land safely every single day across the planet. Get a grip and give yourself the statistically sound reality check.