Although retirement often means more time for travel, flying only seems to get more difficult as we age. These airport tips for seniors can help you fly the friendly skies relatively hassle-free and get the royal treatment you deserve.
1. Get Some Wheels
Airports are vast spaces with line-ups that can challenge the stamina of travellers half your age. Take it easy: Reserve a wheelchair from your airline (they’re free!) and roll your way through security and customs right up to your gate.
2. Breeze Through Security Like a V.I.P.
There are two ways to avoid the lines at security: Either get an American Express Black Card, or, if you have a disability or medical condition and are travelling in the United States, present a TSA notification card. (It’s never a bad idea to bring a note from your doctor either.)
3. Take the Fast Lane
After a long and tedious flight, there’s nothing worse than waiting in the line for customs with the masses. If you get the Nexus card for travel between Canada and the United States, however, you’ll get access to expedited lines. These days, you can use your Nexus card at Global Entry kiosks for international flights, as well.
4. Keep Your Clothes On
Taking off your shoes, belt and jacket at security is a pain for all travellers—but for seniors with mobility issues, it can be downright difficult. If you’re a U.S. citizen, national, or permanent resident, you can apply for TSA Pre-Check membership for $85 and zip through security. Not only will it spare you the trouble of removing your shoes, it also saves you the hassle of removing your laptop and liquids.
5. Invest in an Escort
You know how unaccompanied minors can get escorted from check-in all the way through to boarding? Well, if you’re a senior and you’re travelling alone, you too can get your very own chaperone. It costs a little more, but you’ll have your very own companion to wheel you through security and customs, roll you to your gate and assist you right to your seat. (You’ll get the same service upon landing, too!)
6. Call the Concierge
If you want to be accompanied from the time you enter the airport to the time you leave, there are several concierge services that will do just that. These services may include checking-in your bags, granting access to expedited lines, lounge services, collecting your bags on arrival and even haling a cab on your way out.
7. Enjoy a Hassle-Free Check-In
If you’re bringing along any type of assistive device, airlines will normally check it as carry-on at no extra cost. That includes canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs or electric scooters. (Note: Depending on the airline and size of the aircraft, you may have to call in advance for electric scooters and wheelchairs.)
8. Get The Lounge Experience Without Paying First-Class Prices
If you’re looking for a comfortable place to relax while waiting for your flight, lounge access is a worthy splurge. There, you’ll get comfortable seating, free food, fresh coffee, complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, newspapers, magazines and—perhaps most importantly—clean bathrooms. You can either pay for an airport lounge day pass which generally runs around $40 per person for two hours (WestJet offers a 20% discount) or sign up for a travel credit cardthat offers free lounge access as a perk.
9. Travel Smart & Safe
There are plenty of things that can go wrong at the airport, so it’s important you stack the deck in your favour for a drama-free experience:
- Book a non-stop flight.
- Carry your medications with you.
- Keep a list of emergency contacts on you.
- Wear one of the best medical alert systems with mobile and GPS capabilities if you fear falling or get disoriented.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Drink plenty of water (and pack some snacks!).
- Invest in seats with plenty of leg room.
10. Senior Fares
It’s rarely advertised, but many airlines still offer discounted fares for seniors. Not only do senior fares save you cash, but they often come with greater ticket flexibility. It’s always worth calling your airline to inquire if they offer a discount to your destination.