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The Waking Nightmare of Tripping on a Plane

Few places are worse to trip than a creaky, inescapable metal tube hovering five miles over the ocean, but that hasn’t stopped these people from giving it the old college try

Real-life rules don’t apply at the airport. You’re forced to arrive hours before you travel. You browse duty-free cigarettes to “sell to your friends,” even though you don’t smoke. And, most importantly, no matter what time your flight is, you will be having a beer as soon as you enter the departure lounge. These rules continue onto the plane, where regular couples suddenly become insatiable horndogs, all in the name of joining the world’s most elusive sex club

But it seems for some people, this airport/airplane microcosm hasn’t gone far enough. What better way to enjoy your flight, they say, than to drop a load of shrooms.

If you forget, for a minute, that you’ll be in a big metal box in the sky, confined to one seat, surrounded by strangers and trapped for between one and 18 hours — could tripping on a plane be fun? A good way to kill time? For most people who’ve experienced it, the answer is definitively no.

England-based Morgan (not their real name) recalls a time last year when their pseudonymous friends, Drew and Katie, in their mid-30s, had a terrible time while tripping on a flight to Kavos, the Greek island where British himbos reign supreme. In the months ahead of their vacation, Drew and Katie had been enjoying shroom chocolate together, so they brought it along with them in case they wanted to trip abroad. “En route to the airport, they got pretty drunk,” Morgan recalls. “They decided it would be a good idea to trip on the plane, thinking they’d be able to just chill, relax and vibe out.” “What could possibly go wrong?” they thought, before devouring a piece of the chocolate an hour before boarding, with the aim of coming up as they got on the plane (Morgan isn’t sure of the dosage, but says each piece was usually a six to eight-hour trip).

As soon as Drew and Katie boarded, the shrooms kicked in. Although they didn’t see visuals, Morgan remembers them saying that “instead of being able to relax, as they’d [hoped], they felt as though they were just trapped or stuck on the plane — like [there was] no escape.” “As the journey continued, the trip intensified in a couple of stages,” says Morgan. “There was the initial discomfort, then giggle fits, but then an all-eyes-on-us situation. Because of the giggle fits, they started to feel like everybody was watching them, which then became paranoia and slight panic.” 

Their experience more or less reflects exactly what most people would imagine tripping on a plane to be like. There’s nothing fun to look at, you’re stuck in a cramped space with a bunch of people you don’t know, the cabin is mostly filled with deafening silence and you have nowhere to go if things take a turn for the worse (you are, and I can’t stress this enough, literally in the sky). Most people on Reddit — even if they’re practiced psychedelic users — agree with this perspective. Responding to someone seeking advice about taking shrooms on a flight this week, one redditor warned: “You’re locked in a metal tube hovering five miles above the earth. Does your instinct really tell you this is a good idea? Because you should reevaluate your ambitions if so.”

Others pointed out the logistical difficulties of scoffing some psychedelics right before heading to the airport. “If you eat it before security, you’ll be tripping balls a long time before you get on the plane. Can’t hide it on your person because of the full-body scan.” (Based on a Google search, the jury seems to be out on whether the scan can detect shrooms — but the general consensus is, don’t risk it). Shroom chocolate might be a good way around this — although it’s best not to take any drugs of any kind into an airport with you. Plus, if you still have some shrooms on you when you board the flight, the unabating fear of getting caught might further heighten your anxiety during the trip.

Still, for some people, this cautionary advice runs like water off a duck’s back. Someone I spoke to on Reddit, let’s call them Frankie, hasn’t done it yet, but is interested in taking a low dose (to avoid paranoia on the plane) next time they fly. “I’d do it for the pleasure of making the flight enjoyable,” they tell me. “Plane rides can be unpleasant, so [tripping] would just make it [better]. It’s not much different than someone wanting an alcoholic drink on the flight for the same reason.” 

When I point out that tripping is often a much more intense experience than drinking — particularly when you’re constricted to one space — Frankie doesn’t really respond, and instead just asserts that “confined spaces and airplanes in general don’t bother [them].” They add: “I’d actually like to see attitudes change so that it could be acceptable for people with flight anxiety.”

And, don’t get me wrong, some people who’ve tripped on planes have had a good experience — they’re just few and far between. One redditor says they had a “wonderful” time flying “on acid a couple of times back in the early 1970s” — though, they continued, they’re “pretty sure [they] couldn’t handle today’s airport security.” Another said their experience was “tremendous,” as they just spent the time being very meta and reading Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Although, “going to the bathroom is interesting. And feeling the atmospheric pressure change as your shit gets blasted out of the plane at 10,000 feet.” 

Yeah, thanks, but I think I’ll stick to my 6 a.m. pint.