Each year, Xanax helps thousands of people with flight anxiety take their trips. However, blackouts can happen if it is mixed with alcohol.

If you know people that fly, you may know that many people take Xanax for flight anxiety to help with getting through long flights.

Xanax is the brand name for the drug alprazolam, which is used to treat panic and anxiety disorders. Flying in airplanes causes anxiety for some people, and Xanax is a common prescription treatment. For this reason, some doctors will prescribe Xanax for flight anxiety.

Our brain cells send messages to each other with electrical and chemical signals. One of these signals is called GABA, and it is responsible for slowing the messages between brain cells and calming down thoughts and moods. Xanax and other benzodiazepines work by increasing how well GABA works. The effect is that we feel more calm and relaxed.

Article at a Glance

  • Xanax is a medication used for anxiety disorders, including flight anxiety
  • Since it lasts only a few hours, Xanax is useful for flight anxiety
  • Do not mix alcohol and Xanax on a flight, as it can cause memory blackouts
  • Other side effects of mixing the two are confusion, drowsiness, and problems with speech

Benefits of Taking Xanax Before Flight

Any benzodiazepine can be prescribed to help with flight anxiety, but Xanax is popular because it works quickly and wears off quickly as well. Xanax begins working in about 30 minutes and lasts for four to six hours, covering the flight time of most trips within the country.

Taking Xanax for fear of flying helps by inducing:

  • Calmness
  • Drowsiness
  • Relaxation

If you are prescribed Xanax for flying, the dosage will be low the first time. Since everyone responds to Xanax differently, a low dose helps prevent over-sedation and unwanted side effects. If a low dose does not work, you may be instructed to increase the dose the next time you fly.

Xanax for Flight Anxiety

Xanax is a very addictive drug, so if you receive Xanax for flight anxiety, you will only receive enough for your next few flights. You have a low chance of developing addiction or tolerance to Xanax while using it for flight anxiety.

The Xanax dosage for flying anxiety is low, usually 0.25 mg or 0.5 mg.

Downsides of Taking Xanax and Flying

Xanax can cause a number of side effects, especially for people who are new to the drug or who take too much. Common side effects of Xanax include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Light-headedness
  • Memory problems
  • Problems with speech
  • Shortness of breath

Older adults and people taking certain prescription medications should not take Xanax or similar anxiety medications while flying.

Xanax and Alcohol While Flying

Notice how the list of Xanax side effects above overlaps with the side effects of alcohol. Do not take alcohol and Xanax together while flying, because their effects can add together. The mixture may cause trouble breathing, over-sedation, and problems with speech. Keep in mind that if you mix Xanax and alcohol on a flight, you could possibly be hours away from medical help if it’s needed.

The ability to stay awake and communicate is incredibly important while traveling. Drinking alcohol while using Xanax on a flight can increase the risk of missing connecting flights, becoming lost or disoriented in unknown locations or forgetting your itinerary.

Stories of People Taking Xanax While Flying

In a recent anecdote by Jeremy Cassar, an Australian writer, he discusses his experience on a flight after mixing Xanax and alcohol. He took one Xanax tablet to calm his nerves along with a shot of tequila before boarding the plane.

While in the air, he continued drinking and “blacked out” at one point, losing his memory of much of the flight. He recounts a disagreement with another passenger that caught the attention of flight staff. Upon landing at his destination, he was briefly detained before being released by airport security.

Alcohol and Xanax together are known to cause blackouts, so avoid this combination while at the airport or on a flight.

If you or a loved one needs treatment for benzodiazepine addiction, The Recovery Village can help. We have centers located around the country and can tailor a plan that fits your needs. Contact us today to learn more about treatment plans that can work for you.

Jonathan Strum
Editor – Jonathan Strum
Jonathan Strum graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha with a Bachelor's in Communication in 2017 and has been writing professionally ever since. Read more
Conor Sheehy
Medically Reviewed By – Dr. Conor Sheehy, PharmD, BCPS, CACP
Dr. Sheehy completed his BS in Molecular Biology at the University of Idaho and went on to complete his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) at the University of Washington in Seattle. Read more

MedlinePlus. “Alprazolam: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” 2017. Accessed June 17, 2019.

Cassar, Jeremy. “The Flight from Hell: Proof That Mixing […] Is a Terrible Idea.” 2016. Accessed June 17, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.