Travel

8/18/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

Flying isn’t easy for anyone: hiking across terminals, standing in long lines, sitting in uncomfortable seats for hours at a time, and navigating the flight process in general is tough. But air travel for seniors is even more challenging!

However – don’t be so intimidated that you miss out on all the fun on the other side! Below we’ve shared five tips from savvy senior travelers to make your air travel easier, more comfortable and (fingers crossed) completely without incident.

Book a nonstop flight

In the good old days, if your flight was delayed, you could sprint to your connecting gate and hop onboard in plenty of time. However, a brisk walk may be about the best you can manage nowadays, and good luck flagging down one of those carts when you need it! Spare yourself the stress and the risk by booking a nonstop flight when you can. Plus, less time in airports and in the air leaves you more time at your travel destination!  

Air travel for seniors is easier with a helper

If you don’t fly on a regular basis, tasks like checking bags, getting through security, finding your gate and getting medical equipment, such as oxygen tanks and walkers, onboard can be fraught with anxiety. Did you know that a family member or friend can escort you all the way to the plane? All the person needs to do is show a government-issued photo ID at the ticket counter. If you don’t have a loved one to help you out, concierge services will perform this same function for a fee.

Hitch a ride

If you can’t walk the distance to your gate, you can call your airline in advance to reserve a wheelchair. Make sure they know about connecting flights as well as your return flights. The assistants pushing your chair will also get you through customs and immigration for international flights. Alternatively, you can book an electric cart and your traveling companions will also get a free ride! If you forget to reserve a cart in advance, you can sometimes flag one down in the airport but there are no guarantees.

Facilitate the security process

If you’re traveling alone and need support, a concierge service or wheelchair assistant is designed to make air travel for seniors easier. They will accompany you through the security line. If you’re 75 or older, you’ll have the benefit of keeping your shoes or light jacket on. Be sure to tell the TSA agent if you can’t stand for long periods of time. You can also skip some of the security screening altogether and speed up the process with TSA PreCheck (there’s a fee and application process involved, so complete this step early).

Carry your meds on the plane

Packing your medications in your checked luggage could ruin your trip if your bag is lost! Carry them onboard with you instead. If you have liquid meds, don’t worry about the size of bottles as they are not subject to the 3.4 oz. rule; but pack them separately from other liquids and notify the TSA screener of your medications. If you change time zones in your travel, adjust your medication times accordingly.

Don’t forget to pack a snack, your travel pillow, noise-cancelling headphones, plus mask and antibacterial wipes to protect against germs. Bon voyage!

Related: 7 Tips for Traveling with an Aging Parent

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide. She also writes for many other local magazines and publications.

Terri L. Jones