What to Do If You’re Feeling Claustrophobic Due to a Seatmate on a Flight

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How to Handle Feeling Claustrophobic Due to a Seatmate on a Flight

Are you someone who struggles with feeling claustrophobic when sitting next to a stranger on a flight? If so, you’re not alone. Many people experience anxiety or discomfort in confined spaces, especially when they are forced to sit close to someone they don’t know. In this article, we will discuss some strategies and tips to help you cope with feeling claustrophobic on a plane when you are sitting next to a seatmate.

Recognize Your Triggers

First and foremost, it’s essential to recognize what triggers your feelings of claustrophobia. Is it the lack of personal space? Is it the fear of being stuck in a confined area with no way to escape? Understanding what specifically makes you feel claustrophobic can help you come up with effective coping mechanisms to manage your anxiety.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

One of the most useful techniques for managing claustrophobia is deep breathing exercises. When you start to feel anxious or panicky, take a few deep breaths in and out. Focus on your breathing and try to slow it down. This can help calm your nervous system and reduce feelings of claustrophobia.

Tip: Inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four, hold your breath for a count of four, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of four. Repeat this several times until you start to feel more relaxed.

Use Distraction Techniques

Another helpful strategy for coping with claustrophobia on a flight is to distract yourself. Bring along a book, magazine, or tablet with your favorite movies or TV shows to keep yourself occupied during the flight. Engaging in an activity that you enjoy can shift your focus away from feeling trapped and anxious.

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Communicate with Your Seatmate

If you’re feeling claustrophobic due to your seatmate encroaching on your space, don’t be afraid to politely communicate with them. Let them know that you need a bit more room and ask if they could adjust their position slightly. Most people will be understanding and accommodating if you approach them respectfully.

Tip: You can also consider asking the flight attendant if there is another available seat where you could move to if the situation becomes unbearable.

Practice Visualization Techniques

Visualization can be a powerful tool for managing feelings of claustrophobia. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a peaceful and open space, such as a beach or a mountaintop. Picture yourself breathing in the fresh air and feeling calm and relaxed. This mental exercise can help you cope with the feelings of being confined on a plane.

Bring Comfort Items

Having a few comfort items with you can provide some much-needed relief when you’re feeling claustrophobic on a flight. Consider bringing a cozy blanket, a neck pillow, or a favorite stuffed animal to help you feel more at ease. Having these familiar items from home can make the cramped space feel a little more comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Is it common to feel claustrophobic on a flight?

A: Yes, many people experience feelings of claustrophobia when flying, especially when sitting close to strangers.

Q: What are some other coping strategies for managing claustrophobia on a flight?

A: Other strategies include listening to music, doing breathing exercises, and practicing mindfulness techniques.

Q: Should I talk to the flight attendant if I’m feeling claustrophobic?

A: Yes, don’t hesitate to reach out to the flight attendant for help or to inquire about switching seats if needed.

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Q: Can medication help with claustrophobia on a flight?

A: In some cases, doctors may prescribe anti-anxiety medication to help manage severe feelings of claustrophobia during a flight.

Q: Are there any specific exercises I can do to calm my claustrophobia?

A: Yes, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization techniques can all be beneficial for managing claustrophobia in confined spaces.


Feeling claustrophobic on a flight due to a seatmate can be a challenging experience, but there are several strategies you can use to cope with these feelings. By recognizing your triggers, practicing deep breathing exercises, using distraction techniques, communicating with your seatmate, and bringing comfort items, you can better manage your claustrophobia and enjoy a more comfortable flight experience. Remember that it’s essential to prioritize your mental well-being and take steps to ensure your comfort during air travel. Safe travels!