Fear of flying?

Jan 1st, 2008, 12:56 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
I'm puzzled by claustrophobia associated with a fear of flying. If an airplane makes you nervous out of claustrophobia, wouldn't riding in a car be a hundred times worse? You can't open the door of a car and jump out on the highway any more than you can open the door of a plane and jump out, so escape shouldn't be a factor. And buses are more confining than airplanes, as are some trains, and yet these don't seem to bother people who say that claustrophobia prevents them from flying.

As for commuter pilots being extremely competent, I wouldn't jump to conclusions. They pass all the tests and they get the job done, but commuter pilots tend to be less experienced and often less competent than airline pilots. Statistically, commuter pilots have a lot more accidents (so if commuter aircraft make you more nervous than airliners, there's actually a factual basis for that, although they are still much safer than you might subjectively believe).
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 1st, 2008, 05:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,719
"You can't open the door of a car and jump out on the highway any more than you can open the door of a plane and jump out, "

But in most circumstances, when in a car there is a possibility of stopping and getting out, if not immediately then within a short space of time. Which means you have some (perceived) degree of control, and that helps to alleviate any panicky/claustrophobic feelings.

When you're in a plane and they close up the doors, you have no control over when you'll be able to get out. Hence feeling trapped and claustrophobic.
hanl is offline  
Jan 1st, 2008, 09:01 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,121
You can open the doors yourself if circumstances are safe to open them; they have no locks. In a crash, for example, you can open them to escape. In flight, they cannot be opened because air pressure holds them shut, but there would be no place to go if you could open them, anyway.

In flight, the cabin is warm and safe and comfortable; outside the aircraft, it's frigidly cold and windy and dangerous. Modern cabins in particular are very good at insulating passengers from the unpleasant conditions outside. Worrying because you cannot "escape" from the aircraft into the outside air is rather like worrying because you cannot "escape" from a boat into shark-infested waters around it.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 02:51 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 27,390

I worked for a few years in oncology and watched a lot of people die. Like you, I realized that there are a lot scarier things than flying. I also realized how short life can be and my mantra the past few years has been no one ever says on their deathbed "I wish I had traveled less"...

Lot's of times when I'm ruining a travel experience for myself by being afraid of something, I think of my patients and realize how getting on an airplane or driving around a cliff is easy compared to dealing with physical illness. Not long before she died, one of my first patients, whom I came to know really well, gave me a Starbucks gift certificate. This patient had told me how after her first remission she did a lot of traveling and that when she got sick again it really helped knowing she had done a lot of things she always wanted to do. She was 43 when she died of colon cancer - about the same age I was when I met her. I still have the Starbucks gift card P. gave me, and I keep it to remind me to keep traveling and not to be afraid of things.

gruezi is offline  
Jan 6th, 2008, 09:38 PM
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 323
fsu - I am sympathetic to your fears. I don't have a phobia of flying, although I can at times get anxious. But my husband has a terrible phobia. We've flown around the US and to Europe and he's made it through each time. He has a cocktail or two beforehand, and maybe one during the flight, and that helps him out. It doesn't make him more anxious at all - it's just what works for him.

A couple of things I will mention, though. If you try the Xanax at home first, please remember that you may feel a bit MORE drowsy than you would on a plane because at home you won't have the anxiety that would be working against the medication. On the plane, you'll feel more alert and in control, but just relaxed.

I agree with Seaurchin - take a bit or a half at a time and then take the other part if you feel you still need something to take the edge off.

I also have done what Scdreamer has suggested - if a bit of turbulance occurs or something doesn't seem right, I look at the flight attendants and see how they're behaving. Every single time, they've been busy with their work, not noticing a thing. It's very reassuring!

One more thing - AnthonyGA - It isn't that a claustrophobic person wants to get out of the plane into frigid atmospheric air (we're claustrophobic, not stupid!). It's that a claustrophobic person sometimes feels the need to get out into the wide open space with fresh air, and take some deep breaths. You can't do that on a plane (trust me - it's not the same to stand in the aisle of a plane, close your eyes, and take deep breaths). But one could easily stop a car and get out, or get off a bus at the next stop.

I myself have gotten claustrophobic in heavy fog... I'm sure that one is REALLY hard for you to imagine!
nbbrown is offline  
Jan 7th, 2008, 01:31 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 3,000

I've been flying for over 40 years. Flying is very relaxing. I figure that the pilot wants to get home too so I'm good to go.
hopscotch is offline  

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