What Do Plane Crash Dreams Mean? Experts Explain

You might be experiencing some turbulence IRL.

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Experts explain what plane crash dreams mean.
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We usually associate sleep with calmness, rest, and relaxation — but having nightmares can change all that. Nightmares are often thought to be our subconscious mind's way of coping with things that frighten us, so it’s no surprise that plane crash dreams are pretty common, especially if you have a fear of flying. But having a dream about a plane crash is likely to represent something different to everyone — and if you pay attention to certain details of these nightmares, you might be able to glean some information that will help you deal with stressful situations in your waking life, too.

First things first: If you dream about a plane crash, it doesn’t mean you’re having a premonition or that you or someone you know is doomed to perish on a plane. The subconscious mind generally communicates using symbols, so there are usually other themes at play. "Nightmares are a way for us to process our fears — both the spoken, obvious fears we possess and the unspoken, less conscious fears,” psychotherapist Annie Armstrong Miyao tells Bustle. “Nightmares also help us prepare for worst-case scenarios, solve problems, or better understand our existential fears."

Of course, if you’re deathly afraid of flying in real life, then the meaning of your plane crash dreams might be obvious — especially if you have an impending trip looming in your future. But if flying isn’t generally a fear that’s on your radar, you’ll want to examine the details of your dream more closely to figure out what your subconscious is trying to tell you. "A dream uses symbols and images that are consistent in telling a psychological story, [so] see if the location is familiar, if it has any meaning to you, and what associations you have with it," Armstrong Miyao says. “If [the dream involved] a person, note what qualities of character you ascribe to that person."

Analyzing your nightmares and making symbolic connections between your dream and real life could help you get a handle on the issues that are causing them and assist you in processing any underlying fears. If you dream of a plane crash, here are some common possible interpretations that can help you get to the bottom of your subconscious stressors.

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You’re Repressing Your Fears

Everything in a plane crash dream is not exactly what it seems. According to Armstrong Miyao, things that happen in our dreams (like experiencing a plane crash) are often largely metaphorical. "By looking at the nightmare and the specific symbols that show up, you can discover a more personal meaning and a deeper understanding than just a fear of perishing in a plane crash,” Armstrong Miyao says. Begin analyzing your dream symbols by thinking about the location where your dream took place, any people who showed up in your dream, and any other striking details (such as where you were traveling or how you were feeling). Are any of the locations symbolic? What qualities do the people in your dream represent? You might find that there’s an underlying fear that needs to be faced.

Something In Your Life Feels Out Of Control

Experiencing a plane crash is undoubtedly a powerless feeling — because as a passenger or a bystander, there’s nothing one can do to prevent it from happening. That said, dreaming of being in a plane crash could indicate that there is some other part of your life in which you feel powerless and out of control. "Take a moment to identify the emotions you felt during the dream," Armstrong says. "Were you terrified, overwhelmed, nervous, or embarrassed?" Paying attention to your feelings in a dream can help you align with the real-life situation that’s making you feel lost — and gain some clarity or control over the matter.

You’re Stressed Out About Something That’s Coming Up

Stress is the culprit behind many bad dreams — and dreaming of being in a plane crash could indicate that you’re anxious or concerned about something that’s coming up in the near future. "If we are stressed, trying to solve a problem, or have the deep knowing that something might be off, our dreams are opportunities to work things out,” Armstrong Miyao says. “They can express underlying fears that we might not have time to manage in our waking life."

Your Feelings Or Relationships Might Be Turbulent

Plane crashes are typically unexpected and volatile events — so if you have a plane crash dream, it could be symbolic of emotional volatility or explosive feelings within a relationship. "Our nightmares are often our attempt to sort through issues we are having or patterns of behavior that have become dysfunctional," Armstrong Miyao says. "[And they] frequently become more powerful or scary when we avoid dealing with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings.” If your emotions (or someone’s close to you) have become unpredictable, turbulent, or dysfunctional, a plane crash dream could be a sign that it’s time to face the issues head-on before things crash and burn.


Whether we’re terrified of flying or ready to hop on the next departure, having a dream about plane crash can be symbolic of many under-the-surface issues — and analyzing them is the key to processing. “Reflecting on our nightmares can make them less intense and easier to tolerate,” Armstrong Miyao says. "See if pieces of your dream connect to [your waking life], and pay attention to what resonates with you. It might not be the obvious answer, so go with your gut!"

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