Airport Assistance for Seniors
Navigating an airport can be frustrating even to the young and limber; it can become a huge hurdle as your body ages. But never fear. Help is available. All you have to do is ask. There are lots of things you can do to make your travel easier, even if you feel safe travelling alone or as an older couple. Most of them require a phone call, even though your actual ticket may be booked online.
Here are our top three tips for making airport travel easier as a senior:
1. Have a loved one escort you to your flight
Anyone elderly can be accompanied to their gate, or met at the gate of their destination, by an assistant, family member, or friend, even if the helper does not have a ticket. They just have to show a government issued ID at the ticket counter. That way you can be sure that Grandma gets on her flight to visit your sibling. This is limited to just one person, so don’t expect the family to be allowed to see her off. You may phone the airlines the day before the flight to arrange this. There are even companies that provide this service, from helping check baggage at the curb and getting her to her gate, all the way to taking the flight with her and helping every step of the way – for a fee.
2. Breeze through the security line
Persons aged 75 and older can go through security without removing shoes or jackets and may have a special line. If you use oxygen, check with your airlines; some require a document signed by your doctor to allow it to be brought onboard. Be sure that liquid medicines are separate from your toiletries. You can bring more than three ounces of liquid medicine, but know that it will be screened separately. Call the Transportation Security Administration (855-787-2227) if you have questions about passing through security. Fliers with special needs can ask to have an airport contact meet them at the airport when they fly.
3. Take advantage of mobility devices
Don’t hesitate to ask for a wheelchair. You may not need one every day, but if you have to connect with another plane in a giant airport then don’t be so proud. This makes it their responsibility to get you to the gate on time. Let them know if you are able to walk onto the plane by yourself; if you cannot, then this requires another level of assistance. Don’t forget to ask for a wheelchair at your destination and at any airports in between where you have to change planes.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to ride in a wheelchair, ask about an electric cart. They are cruising around almost every airport but you can’t take a chance on them picking you up if you don’t reserve in advance by phone. I learned from travel with my mother that your companion gets to ride along on the electric cart, even if they aren’t disabled. I got early boarding, too, for those who need extra time to get on the plane. Trains also allow early boarding. Don’t be too shy to take advantage of it. Even hotels sometimes have a wheelchair to help you to your room. Take advantage of the respect and help that your graying hair has earned you!