10 Ways To Avoid Feeling Trapped On Your Flight

My flight from Gatwick to Cairo was by far the worst flight I have ever endured on an international trip. The food was horrible, I was scrunched between two people, who probably should have had two seats of their own; the flight was completely full, it was a budget airline with a lack of legroom, and I was seated next to the wings which made it obnoxiously loud. Since it was a morning flight, I stayed up most of the night before planning to comfortably sleep on the plane despite any inconvenient distractions. On top of all of the above, I wasn’t able to sleep. I seemed to be stuck in a 4th dimension between the world of the conscience and the unconscious, in an extreme drowsy state.

HmmmmmmNot fun at all.

Feeling a combination of two or more factors above can give you the feeling of being trapped, and can enlist you in the ranks of the claustrophobic.

I’m sure you can imagine what the passengers of a Jet Blue flight in February of 2007 felt when they were stuck on a plane for 11 miserable hours at the airport (See the story here).

“You gotta realize the frustration — you can look out the window and you can see, there’s the gate, and if you let us off the plane, we can walk there,” said Farrell, 48, of Brooklyn.

Onboard the planes, snack foods wore out their welcome, bathrooms became unpleasant and cabins sweltered, passengers said.

“They had to open the door every 20 minutes just so we could get air,” said Sean Corrinet, 29, who was on a flight bound for Cancun, Mexico. It was delayed for at least eight hours, Baldwin said.

Thank God the transportation administration came to its senses and created a regulation which limits airlines to keep passengers on the tarmac for no more than 3 hours (See the story here).

It would have been nice if the limit was at 1 hour, but I’m sure they had their reasons for keeping it three. More than likely you won’t be trapped on the tarmac, but in the air with annoying passengers, no legroom, loud engines or a funky smell.

So, what can you possibly do to alleviate the situation? Below is a short list of things I’ve done to keep myself from going insane. Read it, spread it, and implement it!

  1. Take your own snacks and goodies. Everyone has that one comfort snack which transports you to a different world. Pack three.
  2. Grab some ear plugs from your local sports store.
  3. Remember to charge your audio player or laptop so it doesn’t go kaput as soon as you land on the plane.
  4. Invest in a portable DVD player and grab a couple of movies. Pack headphones.
  5. Book your seat ahead of time, strategically. That’s right! I said strategically. It helps to know where the ideal seat is on a plane. I use SeatGuru.com to get the best seat so I can max out my legroom. Try to book your seat at the very front of the plane or away from bathroom traffic. You wouldn’t sit next to your bathroom at home, so why do it 3,000 feet up in a plane? Do I need to mention the smells and unusual noises? Ew.
  6. The flight attendants on long flights are usually bored beyond belief. Get out of your seat and strike a conversation about their travels. I’m sure they’ll keep you interested for a long while.
  7. Take a small stroll around the cabin and stretch next to the bathroom.
  8. Dress in the most comfortable way possible. For me that means: gym shorts, baggy shirt, sandals, and my shawl.
  9. Get a sleep mask.
  10. And the most important tool of all <drum roll>: prayer. The Quran says: “Remember Me, and I will remember you.” [2:152] When that feeling of being ‘stuck’ sets in, it’s nice to know someone else other than the gum-chomping passenger seated to your left is thinking about you.

Stay patient, stay occupied, have faith, and you’ll get through it!



  1. Steve Minton
    Dec 29, 2009

    I think the ‘fat man’ next to you is over-hyped. Some people can genuinely not control themselves and some people are medically disabled. We should be more compassionate towards our larger seat companions. Just my two cents. Thanks for the tips!


    Dec 29, 2009



  3. Laurie
    Dec 29, 2009

    ROFL! The checklist is great. I was stuck in a Delta flight to Toronto earlier in the year, and it was an utter nightmare. The man next to me must have taken the medal for ‘the loudest snore’, my allergies were acting up, and I had left my Benadryl at home. :(


  4. Fred the Man
    Dec 29, 2009

    What about a book? I usually take a book or a magazine with me.


  5. Robin
    Dec 29, 2009

    Books don’t work well with me. Everyone in my family gets nauseous on a flight by reading a book or a magazine. Maybe it’s genetic?


  6. Pamela Viren
    Dec 29, 2009

    I don’t think it’s appropriate for ‘larger’ people to sit on one seat and cramp the person next to them. It’s not courteous and it forces someone else to be uncomfortable for several hours. 


  7. Aquaman
    Dec 30, 2009

    If annoying passengers are an issue, everyone can always request another seat unless the plane is full. Seatguru.com is an excellent resource. I check it for all my flights, domestic and international. Southwest is the only issue, because you can’t reserve your flights, BUT if you get there early enough you can pretty much get any seat you want.


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