I Have Social Anxiety, and I Avoid This Airline at All Costs

Oh, travel, why must you be so stressful?

Orlando Airport

I’m so excited to go on the trips I have planned for this year (one of them to head to Disney World with some friends…right during the spring break crowds, yikes!), and while I’m able to drive to some of my destinations, others I’m going to have to fly. I used to love flying as a kid, but over the past few years, my love has turned into disdain (I am, and always have been, an anxious germaphobe, so you can see how that worked out). However,  there is one airline I will NOT fly because it causes way too much social anxiety.

To be specific, I struggle with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and social anxiety is a big part of that. My anxiety will flare up often for reasons I can’t figure out, but uncomfortable social situations are definitely something that cause it to rear its ugly head 9 times out of 10.

©Orlando International Airport (MCO)

Flying can be super uncomfortable, but with lots of airlines, you choose your seat ahead of time. This way, you know you’re sitting with your family and friends, know exactly where you’re sitting on the plane, and can prepare yourself ahead of time for what to expect.

Orlando International Airport

When flying with Southwest though, you can’t choose your seat ahead of time. Like at all. You can’t even pay for it! You have to check-in for your flight as SOON as that 24 hours before window hits, and hope you get a good boarding group and number. So I’m already feeling more anxious than I’d like to a WHOLE DAY before I fly.


So there I am, in boarding group B, in my proper place in line ALREADY anxious because I have to talk to the people around me to make sure I’m not jumping in front of people (those lines are not big enough to accommodate 5-10 people AND their luggage in between each pole, in my opinion), so my heart’s already racing.


I get on the plane and immediately see that the first 15 rows are all filled with the exception of the middle seat. That’s a last resort option — I want to find a row with no one in it so I can choose my seat without having to ask someone else if the empty seat is taken. I crane my neck, trying to see past the tall people in front of me, because if I get too far back and there’s not a seat available, then I have to backtrack and do the walk of shame and I’ll cry.

Southwest’s 50th Anniversary Plane

While sitting towards the back of the plane also means I’ll have to wait longer to disembark, that’s okay, it’s the lesser of two evils. Finally I see it — the seven back rows are completely open. Now I just have to hope the 10 people in front of me won’t for some reason take all the aisle seats and I’ll have to talk to them regardless. But that doesn’t happen — I get to an open aisle, slide into the window seat, and can finally take a breath.

Finally, I can breathe

Now, this isn’t the thought process for a lot of people — most people are fine with asking the simple question, “Hey, is it cool if I sit here?” but for those suffering from anxiety, that can feel like a Mount Everest sized task, so we’ll avoid it at all costs.

Southwest in the sky

And that’s why, if I can help it and my wallet can afford it, I’ll choose to fly any other airline where I can choose to pick my seat before I fly. I also think about all the families flying together on Southwest — I’m just anxious about finding a single seat for myself, and they’re trying to make sure their whole family can sit together!


Sometimes though, you’re going to end up being one of the last to board and you’re going to need to speak up and ask the dreaded question to your fellow passengers. Trust me, I know it feels like the end of the world and your heart is about to explode out of your chest, but you are capable of doing hard things! You’ll do it, get past it, and can pat yourself on the back (while taking some deep breaths).

We here at AllEars are always here to help you prepare for your next vacation, no matter where that will be, so stay tuned to our blog!

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3 Replies to “I Have Social Anxiety, and I Avoid This Airline at All Costs”

  1. Reserving seats together for your family on other airlines doesn’t mean you will actually get those seats and sit together. 7 of us (3 were young children) were separated by Delta and they refused to restore us to our original seats, claiming no seats are guaranteed. Southwest has become our favorite airline. We pay for early bird and have always found seats together. Just another perspective.

  2. I definitely hear you. Those corrals are not big enough for all the people who need to stand in them. However, what gets me about other airlines where you do have a seat is that everyone groups up around where you actually start boarding. I always have group 3 but have to wade through this group, some of who are holding group 7. Just don’t understand this. I don’t get out of my seat until they call my group. I mean I already have a seat.

    1. I’d rather stand in line in order on Southwest than fly another airline where a mob of people from, say, seats 1 to 10 all try to mob the gate at once!