From the accountsI've read on the forum about claustrophobia I can only guess at the effect it has if you want to fly. But like most phobias it can be overcome, and hearing from other claustrophobics is the perfect start.


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Hey everyone, I'm Sarah and I'm 18 so one of thr young guns on here it seems.
My fear of flying centres on the feelings of chlaustrophobia leading to panic attacks. I remember once flying back from America when I was 10 and feeling this overwhelming sense of wanting to get off the plane, and no matter what I tried to do I couldn't settle and it terrified me.
Since then when boarding an aircraft or waiting for take off I have developed these little urges to want to get off and fear of a full blown panic attack. I have experienced a couple on a plane before and they aren't nice.
However, last summer my boyfriend (who is now sadly an ex) went to New Zealand and I was devastated as I missed him so much. After a couple of months I decided I had to join him and independently flew all that way to NZ for 3 weeks and ended up doing 6 flights.
Techniques that helped me were breathing deeply and focussing on points to get my bearings. I also spoke to people around me as a distraction so I wasn't focussing on panicking. I have little mantras, like when I board I tell myself how big the plane is and if I get a choice ask to sit near the middle or the back so the plane looks bigger.
I heard it mentioned before it is generally the fear of the fear, being trapped and panicking, but if you try to keep calm and focus on your goals and what you will benefit... it makes a big difference.
I have to admit long haul planes are a lot nice due to the space and amount of entertainment available but short haul planes can be pretty spacey too.
Hi Sarah, found your post helpful as my fear of flights, or I guess being in a plane, is a combination I think of claustrophobia and fear of fear (i.e. what if I lose it, panic or get hysterical and make a total idiot of myself and inconvenience everyone else) last flight I went on (never even done long-haul!) was Guernsey to Soton, and I was totally fine until the doors shut then freaked, and asked to get off (calmly) - they were wonderful (Flybe) and opened the door for a bit as engines not started and captain was chatting to me. I was shaking and crying, but was determined to stay on it as was visiting my then boyfriend and couldn't bear to let him down just cos I am a wuss... on the return I spent ages crying in the toilets at the airport talking myself out of getting a train to the harbour instead, and asked the cabin crew to look after me, then swore, panicked and cried and shook my way back, swearing to myself as I got off that I would never again, ever, get in a plane.
Since then though I want to beat this. I want to go to Iceland. I now live right by the airport and am desensitising myself to it by catching the bus there, drinking lattes there, shopping there, and have been short-listed for a part-time night job cleaning the planes, in order to spend time inside them in a non-threatening situation where I am in control, to get used to being in the 'metal tube' and I guess make friends with the cabin. The weird thing is I love planes. Just hate being trapped. and of course you really can't get off, and it's a rather public place to panic. Love to hear anyone else's views on this too.
Hi Lucie,

I can really relate to your post, I have had all these feelings, I occasionally go to my nearest airport and just sit and watch planes take off and land with a very expensive coffee in my hand (not to mention the £2 per 20 minutes parking fee in the short stay car park!). Airports are scary places so being used to the environment helps keep me calm. The last time I went which was around three months ago I got talking to a plane spotter who was really intrigued when I told him I was there to watch planes land and take off to ease my nerves. He could tell me every plane, where it was going or had come from, what type of engine the plane used, I found it very comforting for some reason, just the simple fact of how normal everything was to him, he would look at a plane coming in to land and without referring to any book or timetable just reel off "Oh, here's the Fly be BE10051 from Dublin, it's a Bombardier Q400 with twin jet propelled engine capable of flying at blah blah mph and ......"
I always take comfort when I realise that I'm not alone and not seriously dumb for having these fears and I am normal! I was thinking when I was driving home how funny it was that a plane spotter who I would have judged as being a bit 'odd' before hand had unintentionally really helped and supported me without knowing or even trying to, it was just his normal world, like I could talk the hind leg off a donkey about Football or something and think it was perfectly normal, he could do the same about planes.
Fascinating world isn't it?

I know from our web analytics that thousands of people check into our site each day, obviously getting support from the things people say here. We never know how much we actually help people whom we don't know.

'tis a pity there's not more of it!
Hi Jim,and Keith, thanks for that, really encouraging, I start work in a week or so as a nighttime plane cleaner, which is really exciting and bound to help desensitise me to being in an aircraft, at least while it is stationary!
I am toying with booking a holiday abroad in a few weeks but am terrified about being terrified on the flight, not of the flying, its so stupid really, beaten panic in every area of my life except this and its bugging me. A friend has invited me to see them but it would be a three hour flight, the most I have done was 2 hours to Zurich when I was 14. I am thinking about getting some medication but that feels a bit like cheating.
I also love just watching the planes, I can see them from sat in my room at home as they come in to land just in front of my bedroom window and touch down opposite my living room window! It's reassuring, they do it all day, every day, with no problems or hiccups... I am feeling less freaked about them in general, but that could all be totally irrelevent to the moment the doors shut and you're 'stuck', which is the crunch point really - I think I would also be fine if they just coasted to a stop like a bus and you got on and it left, like a bus - all the waiting and sitting about is so unhelpful for nervy overthinkers - though I did used to be scared of travelling alone by ferry too, but have now done Force 8/9 crossings on the Condor catamaran and nothing fazes me on them now, I enjoy it, bad weather and all.
It does help to know how many other people are just as scared as me. My family are not very understanding, especially as I missed my brother's wedding in Argentina. And I guess plane spotters would be able to reassure, in their inimitable way! I am so proud that I'll be working for Aurigny, as it is our local airline - we were brought up on the books about Joey the little yellow plane! I have been in a Trislander once, to Jersey but it was when I was younger and didn't think too much.They are the small inter-island planes, ?10 seats and no aisle, kind of remind me of a lawn-mower with wings..... :-)
Yes, I can completely relate to this. Feeling of being trapped and once in cant get off. My partner is living in Maylasia - not coming back, so the only choice I have is to go there. I just dont thing I can do 12 hours on the plane - mad thing is I never used to have a problem with flying until I had a panic attack whilst driving and nearly went off the road. Its just put me off travelling really. I just dont think I can do it.
Hi Kate, I understand how you feel. I know how it feel when one is feeling being trapped as I was suffering from PDA (panic disorder with agoraphobia) for a long time. I remembered the first time I traveled with my husband from HK to San Francisco 12 years ago. The flight took 12 hours also. I was very worried since I confirmed the air ticket. On the date of traveling, I was so nervous that I had frequent bowel movement and feeling so warm the whole body. But strange things happened. When the plane started flying, I felt peace in my heart. It's because I accepted the fact that I can not get out of the plane anymore. Meanwhile, I looked around the passengers sat around me and I told myself that I can be just as relaxed and enjoyed the flight as they did. If they can do it, why can't me? Eventually I did manage well in the plane and with a happy landing to San Francisco. I was so happy and proud of myself because I never thought I can do it. My conclusion for that trip was that the real situation may not as worse as what I thought.

Even though I had been taking long hour flight (12 - 16 hours) more than 10 times since that trip, I still don't like it. The fact is that it is not very comfortable for a PDA sufferer sitting in a confined place for long hours. However, the discomfort is consider to be bearable. I will go to San Francisco with my family again in early July. I have already prepared some books, the flying without fear DVD and the small booklet "Relax and Go Flying Without Fear" to keep myself occupy with positive thoughts. And with my two kids travelled along, I think I have enough activities to keep me occupy. Looking forward to share with you my experience of this trip when I come back in August.
Great to here many people have the same fear and we are all in it together
I am new to this and am making my first entry.I too find that it is difficult to relax once the doors have been turned to automatic. There is that feeling of being trapped and no longer in control of your own destiny. I used to fly regularly but at present, it is now a thing of the past. I would like to get the courage to book a flight to Spain where I own a timeshare but am not able to think my way through it yet. Additionally, I also have a problem with turbulence. Anybody got any ideas of handy ways I could try to relax when on board? I hate making a fool of myself.
Hi Diane.
This summer in South Africa we were doing a few internal flights on small aircraft which made me very nervous. The turbulence then were quite unpleasant but we'd been on safari on a bumpy jeep for the past 6 days. I tried to picture myself on the jeep and told myself it was a bumpy jeep as opposed to turbulence. Visualisation is a great distraction, so just imagine you're in a car or a bus. Also remember that they are only unpleasant and can't hurt you.
Hi Diane

Don't be so hard on're human aren't you? And you're certainly not making a fool of yourself.

Tell yourself that "Turbulence may be uncomfortable but that's not the same as dangerous."

We've got a course on 12th Dec

Hi Diane,
My fear of flying centred around claustrophobic feelings. -the feeling of "there's no going back once the doors were closed and the fear of making a scene. However, these are the things that have helped me to overcome these feelings and fly successfully.
1) Keith told me it is possible that the pilot can open one of the cockpit windows, in flight- well at low altitudes and on the ground- for some reason just knowing this helped me as I felt i was not entirely sealed in a metal tube.
2) I practice deep breathing and relaxing during the days leading up to my flights. I can Switch to this breathing if in a lift and it really does help me.
3) having a window seat looking out onto the vast expanse of sky gives you something to focus on-However, on my last flight I had a middle seat on a 747 and managed fine.
4) being able to feel the air through the vents is reassuring
have sweets to suck, take plenty of reading material/puzzle books to do for short haul- usually there are no films/entertainment systems on 737s.
5Attending one of keith's courses you get to sit in a real air craft cabin- you can get acclimatised to being in an aircraft environment in a safe controlled way. Can you get to Alton, in Hampshire ?
Turbulence- On my recent flight the cabin crew were very safety conscious and whenever the seat belt fastening sign went on said it was for passengers own safety. Tighten your belt as tight as you can and then a bit more, you will move with the plane. To me turbulence feels like being on a bumpy train or the back seat of a bus and it is a part of flying.
These things work for me- other people will have different strategies which I hope they will share,.
best wishes, Elizabeth.

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