I'm a claustrophobic flyer and want to take my first flight in years. I figure it's time to get past this.

My question for others who may have the same fears and who have flown first class on a smaller plane (think Embraer E175) and coach on a larger (737 class) plane - which felt more claustrophobic? While the idea of first class space sounds like a good idea, I'm a very tall person and am afraid the smaller confines of the smaller E175 might be an issue. I've never flown on a smaller jet.

Any help would be appreciated!

  • 2
    If you fly a private Cessna you can keep a window open during the flight if you want :)
    – JonathanReez
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:14
  • Adjusted to be less subjective, as asking for recommendations is frowned upon in the help center.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:17
  • To narrow it down: It is about the feeling that you cannot get out and the question is: What typ of class and plane will reduce this feeling. I do not have the fear so it is kind of hard to answer this question. For me it looks like the interior of the airplane is the crucial point in your question. You should not only look for the plane and the class you are traveling, but for me it looks like you should have a look at the "furniture" of the plane - and this is depending on the airline. E.g. think of a A380 of singapore airlines - business and first class look more like a hotel.
    – Gnusper
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 12:17
  • @Gnusper: It is about the feeling of not being able to get out. If I feel I can get out of any space, the tightness or size doesn't matter, I'm OK with it. Having said that, the opposite is not true; when I'm locked in, size of the space matters greatly. The feeling of not being able to get out of a very tight space is much worse for me than the feeling of not being able to get out of a large, open space. The dilemma for me is that of a larger room (737) with more restrictive personal space (coach) vs. a smaller room (E175) with more open personal space (first class). Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 17:39
  • @Mr.BobL.Head I guess you're planning to get an aisle seat either way? Because, while you won't be able to get out of the plane, you would be able to at least get out of your seat without hassle, and "personal" space won't matter that much (at least, that's how I feel about it). Plus, if you can manage to get a seat in an exit row, this will leave you with more personal space even in economy.
    – Sabine
    Commented Dec 15, 2017 at 18:39

2 Answers 2


It'll depend on why you're claustrophobic.

If it's due to seat space, being in confined areas, narrow cramped seats, surrounded by other (potentially stressed) travellers, then first class might be a good idea.

If it's due to the idea of being in a (sorry) flying tin can, then it's probably not going to make much difference, and you could spend the extra money on a relaxing massage or something post flight.

The advantage of a larger plane is probably more stability and less turbulence, if that helps at all. A small plane could get buffeted around a bit more.

I know fears don't usually get affected by logic, but if it helps at all, flying is incredibly safe, and a colleague who went on a course to get over fear of flying concentrated on the fact that if he could get on a bus in rush hour, he could get on a safer plane. Doesn't make it much easier, but it may help.

  • To be honest, my fear is that I can't get out. Once the door is closed it is not going to open until they decide to open it. I have little concern about the safety of the flight. Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:32
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    @Mr.BobL.Head interesting. Again, logic probably doesn't help but on the upside 1) it can't open dangerously at altitude and 2) on the ground, the doors are very easy to open (source: I've worked on a 737 on the ground). Another suggestion - I'm an incredible skeptic of hypnosis, but my mother got it recently for her seasickness, and I grudgingly admit it worked a treat for her (even if a placebo). Might be worth looking into.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:35
  • Why would you want to get out at 33000 feet? Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:50
  • @WeatherVane I wouldn't, but there are many news articles about people trying to! :/
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 20:55
  • My comment was for OP, but don't be skeptical about hypnosis. I know many people can't be "hypnotised" but it is a valuable skill: I was taught self-hypnosis and I use that at the dentist and in other situations. I don't need anaesthetic, which is usually worse than any minor treatment. Commented Dec 14, 2017 at 21:01

The smaller plane is an issue for me. The smaller the aircraft, the more I feel tight and trapped. This is partly due to the fact that is is easier to see the plane as an enclosed space when it is only 2 seat wide compared to 10.

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