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Embarrassing panic attack on a Embraer RJ145

Embarrassing panic attack on a Embraer RJ145

Old Jul 24, 09, 3:06 pm
  #31  
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Indianageo, I tend to get really unnerved by the boarding process (something about a bunch of people s..g up what should be a simple process). I also do not like tight spaces and feeling crowded by others. What I do to control my anxiety is to get something cold to drink before boarding (that helps to alleviate that hot feeling). Once on board and seated, immediately get out good reading material and/or put your Ipod on. Generally, by the time it is readt for departure your anxiety level should be going down. Also as suggested, possibly seek medication. But given the state of the airline industry, if you want to continue to fly RJs are going to be a reality in today's environment.
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Old Jul 25, 09, 4:56 am
  #32  
 
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What a horrible experience for you and one I can truly relate to. When I was staying at Taviuni in Fiji, the trip over was bad enough on an ATR 42-500 seating 44 passengers. Flying back to Nadi from Taviuni, I watched a couple of planes come and go wondering if they were my flight. Next thing that flies in is a tiny plane reminding me of a model aircraft. The realization that was my ride back to Nadi made breathing difficult.

I turned around and began to walk away from the building but husband was way too quick and grabbed my arm. He practically frog-marched me on the plane, stuffed me in the door and proceeded to strap me in. I was frozen with fear and he had to keep reminding me to breathe. Our pilot was female and she really was lovely with me and very reassuring. Unfortunately I could only see her lips move. I think the fear made me deaf. Anyway I made it without totally flipping out and when we landed and it was ok to exit the plane my husband said I looked like a cork popping out of a champagne bottle.

It was the most horrible hour of my life and I was imagining my death the whole way. Funny thing was, when I got on the much bigger plane to fly home, it didn't bother me at all. Stick with it and I hope it passes.


The cause of my hour of hell.
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Old Jul 25, 09, 3:24 pm
  #33  
 
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I plan my trips around small planes. I avoid them at all costs. Not claustrophobic. Never been in a smaller plane that a Airbus 320. But not interested to flying a dinky little plane..that's just me.
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Old Jul 26, 09, 12:12 pm
  #34  
 
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Embarrassing panic attack on a Embraer RJ145

The same thing happened to me on a regional not long ago. I have to take ativan to get me through it. I was surprised since I have worked for a regional a/l and flew in almost anything from a 4 pax to a 9 pax and it never used to bother me. Now it does. I try not to fly them if possible.
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Old Jul 26, 09, 1:27 pm
  #35  
 
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Originally Posted by IndianaGeo View Post
I may have had a subconscious reaction to a very turbulent ride I had many years ago in another relatively small plane where the pilot, upon landing, said these memorable words, "Ladies and Gentleman.. that was a flight from Hell. Thanks for choosing Southwest."
If a Southwest 737 ranks as a "relatively small plane" that might make you nervous, you really shouldn't ride the ERJ. You really REALLY shouldn't ride the E120 or Saab 340. And if you have to ride a J41, you should do what the rest of us do and try general anesthesia.
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Old Jul 27, 09, 5:10 am
  #36  
 
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It's interesting that most of the panic attacks people have had were during boarding or sitting on the runway. I had my first ever panic attack on a mainline plane, DEN-HNL, while were were about halfway between the West Coast and Hawaii. I had been op-upped to F, and put in a window seat, when I always, always book aisles to avoid any claustrophobia. I considered asking for my original E+ aisle seat back, but thought I could handle it and was excited about sitting in F. We were about 2.5 hours from any sort of land when I started panicking, and had to dig my fingernails into my palms to keep from jumping out of my seat and screaming, "Let me off this plane right now!!" (Which would have been impossible anyway given where we were at the time). It was a horrifying experience, and one I hope to never experience again. I have heard good things about a low dose of Xanax, but of course, like others have said, it's best to consult your doctor on that one.
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Old Jul 27, 09, 11:23 am
  #37  
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Originally Posted by PTravel View Post
It's worked pretty well for me. I won't fly on anything but a mainline aircraft. Ever.
+1

I'm not claustrophobic or airplane-phobic, I just don't like the accident stats for small planes.

I wish I could say never, but so far managed to avoid except for a trip earlier this year on a float plane in Africa, where the other options were worse.

Certainly it should be doable for travel within the continential US.

Last edited by Boraxo; Jul 28, 09 at 12:38 am
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Old Jul 27, 09, 12:03 pm
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+1.

I'm claustrophobic, and am careful about any sort of enclosed space: elevators, subways, planes, etc. My plane claustrophobia got much, much worse about six years ago, when I had a very bad experience with turbulence.

Here's a list of helpful tips:

1. Talk about it. If you find yourself in a situation that's triggering your claustrophobia, turn to the person next to you and ask if he/she wouldn't mind chatting for a few minutes, as you're claustrophobic and chatting helps distract you. It's not just chatting, though, but actually chatting about claustrophobia that really helps. Suddenly it's all just a bit comical.

2. Keep cool. I always make sure that I fly in clothes that aren't binding and that, if need be, I can strip down to very close to nothing. If you see a woman wearing nothing but a full slip on a plane one day, it may be me. Note that I've never had to do this---it's knowing that I can if necessary that helps.

Other ways to keep cool include having a wet paper towel at hand (for wiping your forehead, etc.) and fanning yourself. I learned this trick from a FA who noticed me fanning myself and basically sprinted to the back of the RJ I was on with a wet towel in hand (and stuck around to chat with me).

3. Pee at the very first sign that you need to go. Because if you wait and turbulence starts you will then feel trapped (even if you don't really have to go). I won't get on an elevator if I need to pee.

4. Have water and food available at your seat at all times.

5. Sit as far forward in the plane as possible, particularly in an RJ.

As for anti-anxiety meds, I'd give it any of them a test run before the flight by deliberately putting yourself in a claustrophobia-triggering situation with the med on board. You may find that you don't respond well to the slight wooziness/loss of control feeling that these drugs can induce. I'd definitely avoid benadryl (diphenhydramine, the same sleep med found in most OTC sleep aids), as it makes some people jittery and will tend to dry you out.

I use Ambien to sleep on long flights, and haven't had a problem, but again, you should test anything well in advance of the flight.

In the end I find that I do best if I anticipate the worst case scenario and plan for it. The more control I've got over the situation, the better.
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Old Jul 27, 09, 5:33 pm
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
But given the state of the airline industry, if you want to continue to fly RJs are going to be a reality in today's environment.
I am now begining to wonder if the RJs may end up being the demise of the current airline industry.

The industry realized in the early 90's they had to downsize their planes to the smaller markets and hence, started flying the Saab 340 and Embaer 135. However, they had to switch to the RJ after a lot of disatisfaction with the little props and they figured the RJ would provide a more comfortable ride.

Now it appears that the bigger (2X2 sear) RJs are too big for these markets (as I figure more people are probably switching to Southwest) and they have to reduce their capacity which unfortunately means the 145 (1X2 seats). All I can see with this is even more people are going to opt out of some mile program if it means having to ride in a narow tube.

I think the industry has realized this pitfall as larger RJs are being introduced (such as the ERJ170). The big question is whether the industry can invest in these larger jets if all it will do is increase capacity.
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Old Jul 27, 09, 9:03 pm
  #40  
 
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I usually have the anxiety attack on the the way to the airport, but once there I'm fine. I now carry a couple Xanax with me just in case. Only had an anxiety attack on an airplane once. I truly thought I was going to faint. Fortunately, I was flying with me mother, and she was able to calm me down. I think that episode was due to being on the Nicoderm patch.

What can you do? Sh*t happens.
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Old Jul 28, 09, 12:10 am
  #41  
 
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A-T-I-V-A-N

Don't feel bad. Panic attacks suck
I used to fly all the time for work and never even though about it until we hit an air pocket on the way to Eugene ,OR from Chicago. I was never able to let go of that feeling and flying became a nightmare for me. I would be stressing out about the flight as soon as the reservations were made and then once there , could not stop thinking about the return flight.
But I got lucky, a friend who was a doctor prescribed my the drug Ativan and I've been an eager flyer ever since.
Its a miracle drug really, a drug that takes away your fear. its truly amazing how one or two little yellow pills can get me on a plane (to Asia, no less) and through a flight without any fear.
it just seems to target that one part of the brain that controls anxiety.
I can't and won't fly without it. Just having it my pocket driving to the airport makes me feel assured. do try it, it works.
take it about 45 minutes before the flight and you'll be just fine, trust me.
I usually accompany mine with a vodka martini (once aloft) and even turbulence doesn't bring out the cold sweats.
Good Luck, I hope you find something that helps.
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Old Jul 29, 09, 11:04 am
  #42  
 
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Originally Posted by newyorkgeorge View Post
Indianageo, I tend to get really unnerved by the boarding process (something about a bunch of people s..g up what should be a simple process). I also do not like tight spaces and feeling crowded by others. What I do to control my anxiety is to get something cold to drink before boarding (that helps to alleviate that hot feeling). Once on board and seated, immediately get out good reading material and/or put your Ipod on. Generally, by the time it is readt for departure your anxiety level should be going down. Also as suggested, possibly seek medication. But given the state of the airline industry, if you want to continue to fly RJs are going to be a reality in today's environment.
This is what I wish I could do. Put on my iPod as soon as I get on the plane, I mean. But they always tell you to turn off electronic devices before you're airborne.

Do you think telling the FA that I'm claustrophobic will help or hurt? The last time I tried, the FA just kinda blew me off.

My flight is only 45 minutes, but I'm still nervous. I wish I could skip the boarding/buckling in/seeing the door close part.
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Old Jul 30, 09, 9:42 pm
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I am very sorry for the OP's predicament, and for others in such situations. As someone else pointed out, for the OP to classify Southwest planes (all 737s) as also being too small, the problem--for this person--seems to extend well beyond RJ's. Pretty soon, of course, with the increasing popularity of the 70-90 seat aircraft (of whatever manufacturer), there will be arguments about what is and what isn't an RJ, and the whole question will become very fuzzy and subjective, especially if mainlines start flying them.

There used to be classes available that featured a combination of techniques to deal with claustrophobia, along with exercises designed to help with the "loss of control" issue, to help folks with these problems. You might wish to check the web to see what's out there now.

Naturally, anyone is free to try to avoid RJ's if they want to, whether or not their reasoning is well-founded. As a fan of nicely-built aircraft, I personally object to referring to them as not "real" airplanes, but to each his own. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once said, everyone is entitled to their opinions, but not to their facts.

Originally Posted by Boraxo View Post
I'm not claustrophobic or airplane-phobic, I just don't like the accident stats for small planes.

Certainly it should be doable for travel within the continential US.
Like Boraxo, I don't like the accident stats for small planes. But then I don't like the ones for big planes either. But I fly both because I choose to travel, and to do so reasonably conveniently. I wonder if Boraxo would like to cite stats that prove that small planes (and we're talking airliners here, not private aircraft flown by weekend warriors) are less safe than larger ones.

Finally, Boraxo is less than correct in saying that it should be "doable" to avoid RJ's for travel within the Continental US. Maybe if you live in or near a good sized city, but if you live at a smaller line stop, you probably have little choice in the matter. On the other hand, most folks feel that RJ's are a nice step up from the turboprops that they've mostly replaced. Plus, if you have no real claustrophobia issues, you can waste a lot of time both in planning and in the travel itself in the pursuit of an RJ-free life. Right now, RJ's are used for some New York - Washington flights, Chicago - Washington flights, along with many other trips between major cities. In some cases you can plan carefully to avoid them, but what a hassle!

I was also interested that somebody talked about MD-80's flying from the east coast to Amsterdam. I didn't know they had the tanks or the ETOPS rating to do that. But maybe they do.
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Old Jul 31, 09, 8:32 pm
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Originally Posted by pinworm View Post
fear of flying is not my problem, agitation from the whole travel process is.
^

im clausterphobic, i highly dislike elevators, ill take stairs, but if its a glass one ill take it. Planes not a problem. The only time I was feeling really clausterphobic was on a tiny plane from IND to DCA. 1x2 seating. Ill agree with the majority of posters that if your on a small regional, sitting on the tarmac waiting to get to the gate can be pure torture. I just put my head down or look out the window.
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