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SQ321 turbulence prompts more people in Singapore to seek treatment for fear of flying

It can range from slight uneasiness to very severe panic attacks triggered by a thought or impending occasion of flying.

While aviation experts say that flying remains among the safest forms of travel, some service providers said they have seen a spike in people seeking to address this fear.

On May 21, SQ321 was on the way from London to Singapore when it encountered extreme turbulence over the Irrawaddy Basin in Myanmar.

One passenger – a 73-year-old British man – died and dozens were injured, resulting in an emergency diversion of the plane to Bangkok.

Interviews with SQ321 passengers painted a harrowing scene. Those who were unbelted flew out of their seats and onto the ceiling of the plane, before slamming back down. Others described the experience as akin to riding a roller coaster.

Specialist psychology clinic Psych Connect used to receive a query about aerophobia once every few months, but now gets at least two enquiries daily.

The clinic’s founder, Dr Sanveen Kang, said that the Qatar Airways incident was a “double whammy” for people who thought SQ321 was a rare event.

She added: “I think the timing of these two events is also quite notable because they’re right before the holidays with the local schools, and with the international schools, they are [going] for summer break. So people have been travelling for two to three months.”

Because of Singapore’s limited geographical landscape, many leave the country for holidays as well, she noted.

“We don’t have the opportunity, apart from some of the surrounding regions, to get on a boat and go on holiday. If we want to leave Singapore and experience other cultures, we are very limited by flying,” Kang added.


One dead and dozens injured after Singapore Airlines flight hit by