I had a Panic Attack Boarding an Easyjet Flight!

April 27, 2016

Amy Trumpeter

I had such a wonderful and successful trip to Iceland with Worldpackers over Easter. It was sad that it came to an end, but there is the opportunity for me to return for a holiday! I was looking forward to seeing my gorgeous fiance back at home, of course.

Blue Lagoon
Me enjoying the Blue Lagoon in Keflavik, Iceland!

Flying Easyjet from Keflavik to Manchester

After a fabulous time in Iceland, I was booked on a 9.00am flight with Easyjet from Keflavik to Manchester. As you know, you need to allow two hours to get through security and the gate at airports.

Take another hour off to travel from Reykjavik to airport Keflavik itself, and you can see why I needed to get up at 5.30am. Welcome tiredness. Combine this with the ‘wrong time of the month’. Hello recipe for disaster.

All went well initially, because I had allowed plenty of time to get rid of my spare Krona at Duty Free. I was actually one of the first to the gate.

Keflavik Airport
The Rainbow at Keflavik Airport.
Image Credit: Lonnie on Flickr (CC).

It all Started to go Wrong When I made a Split Decision Without Thinking!

There was an announcement that they wanted volunteers to put their hand-luggage into the hold. Why on earth did I say ‘yes’? I think that my tiredness combined with the ‘people pleaser’ element of my personality led to me allowing them to put the label on my hand luggage ready for it to go into the hold.

BIG MISTAKE!

First off, my medication was in there! I need it with me! Secondly, anything out of the ordinary in these stressful times can set me off with a panic attack that can become severe within minutes. But, I forgot. Ironically, short term memory loss, particularly when tired, is part of the condition! 😉

I was told to hand in the luggage at the top of the stairs. I had already dropped my passport amongst the sea of people, and a kind woman said ‘is that yours?!’ Phew – I picked it up. The announcement went out for first boarding. Then it happened – the massive rush. Why they don’t read out rows and requirements more specifically, I do not know.

Apparently, the label on my bag for it to go into the hold meant I was boarding first. I got to the top of the stairs. People were all around me – aaaah! I was supposed to turn right to deposit the bag. I realised at this point that no, I didn’t want them to take it off me, and turned right, straight onto the plane.

As I boarded, the air hostess said to me something about going back. I looked at all the people behind me. I remembered that they couldn’t take my medication off me. “I’m having a stress!” I said, “And I’m not going back there!”

Panic attack on a Plane
Boarding an Easyjet Plane!
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Panic Attack on a Plane!

I could feel myself getting clammy and my heart was beating faster as all of the people scrammed past each other to try to get to their overhead compartments. I almost thought I was going to pass out. I was clearly distressed, but the air hostesses were too busy to help me or just didn’t realise what was going on.

A lovely man travelling with his wife said to me ‘Don’t worry love, just sit by me for a minute!’ I sat down by him and his wife and burst into tears! I could then calm down a bit and practice my deep breathing. After a minute or two, it was subsiding. Thank God!

This man was so calm and helpful. I am so grateful to him! Perhaps he recognised what was going on, or perhaps he just thought I was afraid of flying. But, that minute or two to chill really was what I needed right at that moment!

Within a few minutes the panic was subsiding. I thanked the kind gentleman and told him that I would be ok! Then I could find a gap in the line to get down to my seat and put my bag directly above me.

Was it really Easyjet’s Fault Though?!

Do I blame Easyjet for not properly looking after me? Not at all. To be honest, I made two fatal mistakes. The first was not declaring my medical conditions (anxiety, epilepsy, asthma) to the airline before I travelled. The second was that I thought I was doing the right thing by volunteering to let them take my bag, when I should have remembered that I needed it with me!

The flight itself was very pleasant, with an extremely smooth landing. And for the prices, you really can’t complain. I would still recommend Easyjet, and I am taking responsibility for me health, but looking at preventative actions.

I have put together a preventative action plan to minimise the risk of my panic attacks, asthma attacks and epileptic fits when I travel. I hope that you will read my next blog on How to Avoid Panic Attacks on Flights.

You might also like to read about Airport Anxiety.