Fear of Flying

One thing I keep being asked is about wearing elevators and flying. And at this time of year it comes up again and again, often with the same people! No matter how often I refer to it in a paragraph here and there, guys find it very difficult to process – Let me spell this out really bluntly: the chance of any issues at security is basically near to zero. But I am going to say some more in this post at vacation time…

After the usual concerns, wearing elevators when travelling by plane is possibly the most common fear. And I understand this. “OMG I have to take my boots off and I’ll be humiliated as they pull out the lifts when the shoes go through the scanner. And I will drop in height. Aaaargh!” All the usual terrors and horrors piled up in the mind to make it appear that it is ‘bound’ to happen.

There are two parts of this fear – the first is being given aggro at security in a public manner. And the second is having to take your footwear off and dropping several inches. These are very different issues, and keeping them that way in your mind is part of the solution.

So let me tell you as one who travels through airport security about 15/20 times a year. It has NEVER happened to me and nothing remotely problematic has ever occurred over the past two decades. And here is what I have always done to make sure I have no problems. Plus the reasons why I think that it is very very unlikely to cause you any problems whatever you might do.

Be prepared

Firstly, I have learned to accept in advance that if anything does ever come up, then I am doing nothing wrong or illegal, just a bit embarrassing to be caught out in. If I am on my own, no probs, if flying with partner or friends or colleagues then a bit different. I will wear my full lifts through security on my own, and if any airport security person were to check them out and ask me about the soles and the detachable lifts, then I would simply say: “they are insoles I wear for posture. They are just so good for when you have to do a load of walking.” All total rubbish but prepared in advance and delivered with a smile it’s totally cool. They are not fashion police or there to make value judgements about why you are wearing things. They are barred from going further and have specific things they are looking for. And it’s not guys wearing elevator shoes.

Never happened

In any event, this has never happened to me.

I will say it again – this has never happened in about 400 flights I have taken in my professional life.

Let’s address the first thing that people often think: “At airports, they started making people take their shoes off because of the guy who went on to a plane with something in his shoes. Wearing elevators is bound to attract attention”. Well yes, but no: the thickness of soles (look at what women wear!) is not the issue. The guy on the plane all those years ago was wearing basic flat sneakers. They key is what appears on the scanner. And your lifts will not appear as anything special or suspicious. Any suspicion is dealt with by the scanner, looking for things in the shoe that fit the danger list.

So please do not think about this as some very serious possibility – the number of people who have taken my advice (fearfully) and then come back and said with great relief: “Amazing. Nothing happened”. No it’s not ‘amazing’ it’s what has happened to me for hundreds of flights. So they listened to what I said but basically discarded it until they had got through…they took the advice and it went fine.

With friends

Now, travelling with friends is a different issue because one of the things that people do not like is suddenly losing height in the queue like that. The second issue that people have with flying – losing height through taking off your footwear. Specially if you are wearing 4″+ elevators. On this one there is just no issue with elevators up to just over 3″. If you wear those, no problem, it really just will NOT be noticed by your friends because everyone is occupied with their own issues (“I forgot to take my belt off…they want to look at my bag…can’t find my bag/purse/wallet/ticket”). And on the basis of what I have always told you, people are not aware of such ups and downs at that level anyway.

So, wearing 6″ elevators through security with friends. Well I do, but I occasionally remove the added lift so the drop is less if I think it might be noticed. I have a pair of 6″ (15cm) Hong Kong boots and before travelling, I put the added lift in my hand luggage in time for going through security (but only if I am with others). This means I do not get the full 6″ of course but I find it’s worth it. And then I put the lifts back in once through security and before getting on the flight. I have actually mastered this so well, that I can take my stuff over to the seat where I am sorting myself out (putting belt back on and shoes etc) and with no-one noticing slip the lifts back in – after all, your shoes are off so it’s ideal timing. I have done this almost every time recently because no-one is actually looking beady-eyed at you what you are doing. There’s just too many people around.

When I am without my footwear in that situation I also make sure I lean over a bit and carry things so my full height is not showing. So anyone I know who is with me in the queue does not see me standing fully up but clutching a bag and leaning over a bit. Think about it – you do it anyway a lot in many situations. Once sat down and through security you are home and dry.

But as I say, if I am on my own, I just wear the whole lot lifts and all, and accept that they might one day ask me to take off my boots, and I have to then walk through the security process shorter. An issue? Well I don’t like being shorter and yeah a sharp eyed guy might notice I am shorter than he thought. But really? He sees hundreds of people a day going through. You just go through.

But again. Bear in mind. Whatever I have done I have never had an issue. Happy holidays…

*Btw if ever you do have any concerns on this particular issue, drop me a line at robfranklin980@yahoo.co.uk