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-   -   Does anyone else suffer from claustrophobia (fear of being trapped in a small place) on airplanes? Tell me about it! (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/does-anyone-else-suffer-from-claustrophobia-fear-of-being-trapped-in-a-small-place-on-airplanes-tell-me-about-it-321802/)

bunchargum May 29th, 2003 11:10 AM

Does anyone else suffer from claustrophobia (fear of being trapped in a small place) on airplanes? Tell me about it!
 
Recently I was on a small commerical plane in a driving rain storm. The flight was full. After the flight attendant closed the cabin door, we rolled out and taxied to a waiting area and just sat there- and then sat there- and then continued to sit there waiting for the weather to clear. I started to panic and had a terrible case of claustrophobia. I felt trapped! Nothing I could do would allow me to leave this small cramped box overflowing with people. Everone else looked calm and ready to wait out the weather, except for me.

Finally after the longest 2 hours in my life, we taxied and took off and I calmed down, because we were making progress towards our destination.

Does anyone else panic about being trapped on a overcrowed plane?

Oh, by the way I have been on over 100 flights, with this problem before.

milkshake May 29th, 2003 11:19 AM

Yes! I went through a stage of this at one time. The worst time was when I got on the plane to come back from the Canary Islands. I was sat in a 'window' seat that had no window! It was the first time I had ever felt trapped, and I felt panicky and sick. I swapped with my partner and it eased. But since then, I always feel a little uneasiness. I sat on a flight recently with no window next to me, it was only a 1 hr flight so I was ok.

rjw_lgb_ca May 29th, 2003 11:20 AM

Something is amiss here. Which airline was this, what airport, what kind of plane (prop/regional jet/full-size jet)? Airlines now have better rules against letting planes push back and wait on the tarmac for long periods of time, don't they?

ChazBubbles May 29th, 2003 11:23 AM

Can empathize. But can only suggest one or two ideas to consider. Look at people around you and think that all of you are there together, flying together. They are not simply strangers. Second, an aisle seat, I suppose, would help a bit, perhaps. This isn't much help, I'll admit. Perhaps seeing a counsellor about this issue might help you uncover what's behind it. More smaller planes are on the way, so it's good you're thinking about this fear and want to tackle it. Good luck to you.

travellyn May 29th, 2003 11:24 AM

Yes, I have claustrophobia, but it usually only gets to me when I'm in the middle seat, sometimes in the window seat if there's a pretty big person next to me. It makes me pretty adamant about aisle seating. I might get more claustrophobic if the plane were getting hot.

ColletteRI May 29th, 2003 11:47 AM

YES, Yes Yes... I don't think of myself as having claustrophobia but do hate being stuck on the plane that is either sitting at the gate, or on the runway etc... I think it's the loss of control feeling... I want them to tell me what is going on, why we are waiting etc... It usually makes me feel calmer. Though last trip home from Pvd, the captain announced we would be "pushing off in just a minute or two" and then we waited and waited. Next he announced we were holding the plane for some people trying to make the connection. "Should just be a few more minutes" 15 minutes later he states it's an international flight and the people have to go through customs! 15 minutes more and then he comes on to apologize again for the delay... We all groan and then a minute later they close the cabin doors and send us on our way. Basically we waited there for 40 minutes and the late people never got on the plane.... This is what drives me nuts about flying...! Try deep breathing and sayng"it will be ok... over and over again.

bunchargum May 30th, 2003 05:31 AM

I can not belive so few people do not feel trapped and uncomfortable in airplanes that are stuck out on the tarmack! Remember a few years ago when a number of planes that had returned from overseas were stuck at the Detroit airport sitting waiting for a gate for up to 13 hours? I always fear they will pull that on me again.

Connie May 31st, 2003 08:51 PM

I have never felt it before until I had a really large woman sitting in the aisle seat who had a very hard time just getting in her seat. I knew I wouldn't be able to get out easily and the panic hit. The plane was full and I knew she wouldn't be able to change seats. I just tried focusing on a magazine. Boy was I glad to get off that plane.

islandmom May 31st, 2003 10:26 PM

Yes, from Honolulu to Dallas I feel like jumping out the door. It's worse the times I have to go LA then Memphis then Dallas or something. I use my birthing breathing now. I always sit on the aisle too.

islandmom May 31st, 2003 10:27 PM

Oh, and if you tell them you feel ill and would like a pack of ice to put on the back of your neck, it helps!

tcapp Jun 1st, 2003 03:47 AM

I have had the same problem, but some things I do really help. If possible, try to sit in an aisle seat, and if possible, try to get one of the emergancy rows--more legroom.
Also, for some strange reason, it seems to help if I turn the little air valve on overhead.
Try to focus on a conversation with someone, get into a good book, bring something to work on, etc.

wagsdvm Jun 1st, 2003 08:52 AM

I have had the same problem, and, unfortunately, it becomes somewhat self-fulfilling in that next time you fly, you may become panicked again. I always try to talk to the flight attendant or seatmate if I start to feel the "wave" of panic. Also, I think it is triggered when there isn't fresh air circulating while waiting on the tarmac. If it continues, don't hesitate to talk to your Dr. about anti-anxiety meds like Xanax. It has worked wonders for me -- especially since I'm a once a week flyer -- it's always comforting to know I have the meds should an attack arise! (Only end up using occasionally). Good luck -- I feel for you!!

soccr Jun 1st, 2003 09:10 AM

Wagsdvm is right, giving in to a panic attack will guarantee that the next one will be worse. However, you managed to survive this last one, and you should congratulate yourself and keep reminding yourself that you made it, you coped, you survived! It'll help when the next wave of panic threatens -- which it will because nothing likes to form a bad habit like panic. But remembering that you CAN cope and DID cope will make the attack less strong. Better and better after that, esp. if you learn ways to distract yourself.

I think magazines, books, crosswords, etc. help -- start a detective novel before you leave on your trip so that you really want to read it to find out the ending. My personal trick, assuming it's at a time when they don't make you turn CD/cassette players off, is to listen to a comedy tape. Hard to keep panic going when you're chuckling.

(As another comment: there's a REASON why so many people dislike being cooped up in these planes. We ARE being cooped up in these planes, stuffed into them like cargo. Another antidote to panic (at fear of lost control or whatever) is anger. Think about WHY we're crammed into those claustrophobic seats and teensy planes. If enough passengers have a "problem," it's maybe the airlines' "problem." But that's another post.)

soccr Jun 1st, 2003 09:16 AM

PS: Go to the Europe forum and search on "jitters." There's a longish thread about coping with air jitters (latest post 5/25).

suzanne Jun 1st, 2003 04:48 PM

Throwing back a pint of beer at the airport always helps me cope with claustrophobia, fear of flying, and annoying passengers. I'm serious!!


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