Your parents relocated to Florida after they retired, but now they want to fly back “home” for a grandchild’s wedding. Of course, your child is anxious to have them at their wedding as well, so the pressure is on for you to make it happen. Unfortunately, they have acquired a few significant health issues in the interim and having them fly seems like a daunting undertaking. Flying can be exhausting under the best of circumstances for people of any age, but flying when faced physical health issues and the anxiety that often increases as we age, it can be even more overwhelming.
Luckily, the airline industry has several accommodations in place for seniors to utilize when traveling. Seniorcare experts offer the following tips to use when preparing for seniors to travel by air.
Before the Flight
Seniorcare experts recommend that special requests should be made to the airline when the flight is booked. These requests typically must be handled over the phone as online systems are generally not equipped for requesting them. Wheelchairs or attendants can be requested to guide your parent through the airport. Electric carts may also be an option to request if a wheelchair is unnecessary but long walks will be difficult. Extra leg room or seats that will allow for easier access and movement can also be requested. If your parent uses oxygen, check with the airline to determine if there are any specific procedures or forms that need to be signed by a doctor.
At The Airport
Assistance in the Airport
In these days of increased security, it is still possible for non-flying companions to accompany those needing extra help past security. Generally, as long as the non-traveling companion can provide a government-issued photo ID with name and birthdate, they can be given a special pass to accompany the senior to the gate.
If a family member or friend is not available, some of the airlines will provide special attendants if they are given sufficient notice. Seniorcare experts recommend asking about this when booking the flight or by calling in several days before the flight.
There are also professional companies and services that can help either by providing assistance from curb to gate at certain airports, or by actually serving as a travel companion during the duration of their trip, including making travel arrangements and making sure their needs are met along the way. Of course, fees will be incurred for these services.
U.S. airports typically allow seniors 75 and older to go through security without taking off their shoes, and may offer other expedited procedures. Ask the airline staff during check-in to see if there are expedited lanes or ways to avoid waiting in line altogether.
Visit tsa.gov/traveler-information to learn about what is/is not permitted and to find out how to deal with particular circumstances. Alternatively, seniorcare experts recommend contacting the Transportation Security Administration at TSA Cares at 855-787-2227 to ask specific questions or to request a Passenger Support Specialist to help with screening in advance.
Getting On and Off the Plane
Pre-boarding is offered by most airlines for elderly passengers who require more time to board the plane and settle into their seat. Once they arrive at their destination, they can remain seated while the other passengers exit the plane and wait for attendants to assist them. Again, attendants should be requested in advance.
By following these tips, seniorcare experts advise that it may be possible for seniors with health issues to travel by air, ensuring that they are able to remain involved in the lives of their family members who live far away and attend the special events of those they love.