Claustrophobic flyer

Old Jun 25, 18, 2:38 pm
Join Date: Jun 2018
Posts: 1
Flying in October from US to UK

Wow, I am amazed how many have the same issue as I. My worst experience was being on the tarmac in August for 2 1/2 hours with no air conditioning around 2004 or so. I managed it well due to a child and his mother on their first flight sitting next to me. Outwardly, I was super positive. Inwardly, I thought that I was going to die. One other flight to Phoenix for business, I thought that I was having a heart attack mid-flight. I suddenly couldnt breathe and was super hot. I started thinking about my business presentation that I was making the next day and realized two minutes later that I was just anxious.
On a very positive note, I now fly Southwest domestically whenever possible, tell them in advance about my issue, and get a pre-boarding pass. They assure me that this is a true issue. I always sit near the front in an aisle seat on the side where I cannot see the door open or close. It really helps. On my past two flights, I decided to just do a regular board and was fine. I even managed to not freak out when the doors didnt open for a few minutes with everyone standing. I do have to admit that my pulse rate went up a bit, but not like the past.
I am going on my first overseas flight to Scotland in October. I am going to most likely fly Southwest to the location that I board internationally. Does anyone suggest international airlines that handle claustrophobia better. I even have been looking at the Queen Mary 2 but realized that I am being ridiculous. One final note, my doctor told me to reach out acweekmbefore my flight for meds.
Koolkurtz is offline  
Old Aug 5, 18, 7:41 am
Join Date: Aug 2018
Posts: 1

Firstly I cannot believe there are other people who experience what I do too. Its incredibly disabling and really interferes with my life, however I still fly but hate it. I try to feel the fear to prevent a panic attack but sometimes even feeling the fear is impossible. Has anyone had any luck with changing their diet to increase their panic threshold? Like I said, sometimes I can feel the fear and fly but a week later on a return flight I can barely board the plane and then have to take diazepam which then makes me feel weird and off. So I can get through a flight but feel so incredibly uncomfortable and dread it terribly. Anything longer than 5 hours at the moment is an issue and living in Australia this makes any international travel pretty tough.

Luisa88 is offline  
Old Dec 5, 18, 10:33 am
Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 1
Hi everyone. I'm so excited finding this chat. I struggle with severe claustrophobia as well. In the past, I flew a few times and years later I have experienced some claustrophobic panic attacks on the grounds whick have disabled me from flying for years... Last time I flew was 2002 and it was a total disaster that caused me serious health problem. I went through psychotherapy and was pretty sure I can fly again... In 2004 I got off the plane in a terrible panic attack. I gave up. This year I have started thinking that I could possibly try once again. I got an incredible job offer and this position will require to travel few times a year. So I have started looking for tips and advises for phobic fliers. I have bought myself and my husband a short 1 hour flight in a couple of weeks. I am reading all of stories and want to thank you for sharing. Despite all terrible panic attacks, you are all alive still, that means I have chance to survive too. Fingers crossed, mates. I'll come back with a story of succes or a fail anyway. is offline  
Old Jul 8, 19, 6:17 am
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 1
I am travelling soon, within next few weeks and i have claustrophobia so i have been reading up online on how to combat it.

I have gone through the comments here and it's uncanny how most of us had it after a certain age and/or experience. I traveled alot more as a kid and never had this issue even though ever since a kid i have had symptoms of claustrophobia by avoiding narrow spaces, high necks or even closed necklines, etc. But few years back i was travelling alone and i had the panic attack at the last 25 mins before reaching destination after a 14.2 hours flight. It was just there for a mins and took another 5 mins to get back to normal. Then just 2 years ago, again on my flight back to home i had panic attack, this time just at the start. I was lucky that a kind gentleman who was there to do inspection of the flight, he saw i was not feeling ok so he moved me to the front seats with room and i felt better. I am thinking both times i was coming back from a vacation, after spending time with family, so could mine be triggered by emotions?. I also had a panic attack while on the ride Riptide at Wonderland and i asked to be taken off.

I really want to look into Cognitive behavior therapy or any other kind that can help with this condition because it can be restricting to how you live your life. I did discuss this with my GP and he gave me Citanew 5mg and Busron 5 mg to take for a month continuously. I am a bit wary because i avoid meds and i think there has to be a better solution to this issue then to just suppress these fears. Let me know what you think, should i take these meds?
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Maham is offline  
Old Jul 9, 19, 4:29 pm
Join Date: Jul 2017
Programs: DL
Posts: 196
Drugs just for flying?

I've been suffering from mild claustrophobia since childhood, but could always calm myself with breathing, trying to think rationally, picturing being released from the enclosed space, etc. Tight spaces with lots of people bother me much more than just tight spaces. I would prepare for a flight by picking a window seat (I can zone out/mentally remove myself from the situation better in a window seat than in the aisle), planning on watching movies, eating, reading, hopefully napping, etc. to keep myself occupied, and it has always been bearable. Until a couple of years ago, when a large, heavily breathing guy that smelled like BO and cigarette smoke plopped himself next to me on a commuter bus. The onset of the claustrophobia was so sudden and unexpected, I felt totally unprepared and panicked about how to get through the next 45 minutes until the next stop! I've been scared of a repeat since. My doctor recommended medication, but I would have to try it out before flying, to know it's effects, and then it might still be different on the plane. I'm usually staying away from meds, as I always seem to suffer the side effects, and honestly don't like the feeling of being lethargically drugged up, when I have to function. A friend told me to "just pop a valium" before getting on the plane, but I'm afraid that there might be delays, diversions, unexpected events where I would like to have full use of my wits, rather then be a total zombie. Changing time zones, lack of proper sleep, and eating airplane food seems to be enough of a strain on my body, I can't imagine doing drugs on top of it.

What other, non-medication methods have you tried? Deep breathing helps, but can't really do that for eight to ten hours straight...

What can be done about the sudden onset of the panic, when I'm not expecting it, and I feel unprepared to handle it?

Right after the incident on the bus, I had to fly for work and couldn't book a specific seat, so I told the FA about my fear. While this seems to help some people, just picturing the panic, and having to talk about it, raised my anxiety level, and what if scenarios (a stinky COS next to me, a middle seat, being in the back of the plane, sitting on the tarmac, etc.) made it even worse, so I never notified them since.
altabello is offline  
Old Apr 2, 22, 12:36 pm
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 2
You guys on this thread changed my life

I just had to come back here and tell you guys- The last time I flew was 15 years ago. Yes 15! I developed claustrophobia suddenly when I was 21, pregnant and seated in a two seater car in the back. I fell asleep woke up and had a claustrophobic attack.
After that it was always a struggle to fly. I always had to try and trick my mind into staying calm and being rational. Well one day I decided I had enough and I wasnt going to deal with it anymore after I walked off three flights trying to get from New York to florida. I rented a car and drove the whole way by myself so I wouldnt lose my job.

Fifteen year laters I was looking on the internet a month ago and found this forum. I had tried Xanax, Valium and nothing worked. One minute I was awake and the next - its time for breakfast. It did nothing to calm me down.

After reading all of the threads On here someone mentioned klonopin. I went to my doctor and they prescribed me 4 .50mg pills to try out. I tried 1 pill at home. Couldnt tell if it made a huge difference. So the next time I tried 1mg. And wow. It mellowed me out I tried to feel anxious and I couldnt. It did make me pass out eventually but 5 hours after I take it.

So I got brave and booked two first class tickets from New York to Dallas direct in the hopes of surprising my sister. I told no one I was coming! I told myself I dont care I am getting on that plane. Took the medication three hours before my flight so I was sure it would kick in. I put headphones in and closed my eyes from the ticket door and kept them closed until we were up in the air. And oh my gosh I was ok. No claustrophobia, no panic attacks. And
trust me it was the pills keeping me calm. When I walked through my sisters house in Dallas they looked like they saw a ghost. 15 years of never seeing my sisters place, 15 years of missing out on vacations, 15 years of not visiting my mom because I have to drive from New York to florida.

On the day of my return trip I started feeling anxiety and panic in my chest- literally. I took klonopin three hours before the flight and The anxiety and panic attacked disappeared. I dont know if my story can help anyone that comes across this. But if I can just help one person like you all helped me on this thread. Ive done a good thing!
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Simplysherona is offline  
Old Apr 2, 22, 1:09 pm
Join Date: Apr 2022
Posts: 2
Originally Posted by k1395
I am new to Flyer Talk.. I decide to join because I'm an extremely uneasy flier, and it seems that no one can relate when I ask, so I figured this would be a great start and place for me to be. Every flight I go on seems to get worse and worse. I get extremely panicked by the thought of "I'm stuck on here and cannot get off if I need to" I also think about there being no :"fresh air" and think of the feeling of the plane god forbid going down. I tried two .25mg of xanax a few times, but it did not work. I was also told by my doctor that I was taking it way too late.. I would take it when I would board the plane. I also believe that the pills I was taking were outdated. I leave in 3 weeks for my first flight in a long time and I'm fearing its going to be my worst flight. The thought literally keeps me up at night. I almost cancelled the entire trip 2 weeks ago but I promised myself I'd never let this fear get in the way of my living. My doctor prescribed me again, .25mg of xanax and advised me to take between 2 and 3. She told me to take it before the flight to see if it works for me. She also said to take it atleast an hour before departure. I feel like this fear has taken over so much. I missed out on 2 girls trips in the last year and fear that I'm going to freakout on this flight. I can't even be excited about vacation bc all I can think of is the flight. I have a wedding out of state in May that I don't even want to attend strictly because of the flight. If you have any advice, experience with xanax for flying or any help or comforting words, please let me know! I'm 23 years old and this fear actually saddens me. It make me feel so abnormal
Same thing with me, xanax did not work for me, try klonopin and a physician in the replies above suggested different medications. Dont give up. You can find a medication that works for you.
Simplysherona is offline  

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