Claustrophobia is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by an intense and irrational fear of enclosed places. It affects around 12.5% of the population. People with claustrophobia may experience symptoms of intense anxiety in closed places such as buses, trains, tunnels, aeroplanes or any other closed place that makes them feel trapped or uncomfortable.

Air travel can be a difficult experience for someone with claustrophobia as aeroplane cabins are often very small, with limited room to move and passengers are seated nearby as well. All these factors can trigger the sense of being trapped and cause anxiety for someone with claustrophobia. However, there are a few ways one can manage or avoid feelings or symptoms of claustrophobia on flights. They are:

  • Choose the Right Seat

Picking the right seat while flying can help manage the symptoms of claustrophobia. It is advisable to choose an aisle seat as it will give you more space to move around which can help you avoid feeling trapped. You can also choose a seat that gives you more legroom if possible

  • Know Your Flight

Consider learning about your flight from the cabin crew before you board your plane. Familiarity with the plane layout and surroundings can help reduce feelings of uncertainty.

  • Keep the Crew Informed

Let the cabin crew know of your claustrophobia symptoms and ask them how they can help in case you start feeling uncomfortable during your journey. You can also consider letting your fellow passengers know about your condition so that they can help you out.

  • Pay Attention To Your Diet

Consuming alcohol or caffeine can cause your heart to race, increasing the feelings of anxiety. Thus, it is advisable to avoid these substances during your flight journey.

  • Travel With Someone

Consider travelling with a trusted friend, colleague or family member so that they can provide you with emotional support on the flight.

  • Pack Plenty of Distractions

Sometimes distraction can be an effective way to cope with claustrophobia. So make sure you carry things that help you take your mind off anxious feelings. You can use anything that helps you distract yourself, like reading books, listening to music, solving a puzzle, gaming on the phone, or watching a movie. However, avoid watching movies that might trigger feelings of fear or anxiety.

  • Practice Breathing Techniques

Whenever someone feels anxious or claustrophobic, their heart rate starts to rise. In such situations, mindfully practising deep breathing techniques can help bring a sense of calm to your body.

  • Visualisation

Visualization is an effective way to distract the mind from anxious thoughts and focus on something calming. You can close your eyes and visualize a recent positive experience, In the days leading up to your flight you can also visualize yourself having a calm and pleasant flight experience. Practising this regularly may help you be less anxious on your next flight.

  • Visit your Doctor or Therapist

Consider visiting your doctor or therapist before your flight. While a doctor might be able to prescribe medication if required, a therapist can help you work through feelings of fear and provide you with resources to cope during your flight.


Flying with claustrophobia can be a distressing experience. However, it is possible to manage symptoms of claustrophobia during a flight journey. You can consider informing the cabin crew of your condition while also practicing breathing, distraction, visualizations, etc to manage your symptoms. If you see claustrophobia as a significant interference in your flying experience, consider visiting a therapist as soon as possible.


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  4. McInnis, K. (2022, March 18). What you can do to help overcome a fear of flying, according to experts. CNN Underscored.

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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin