Senior travelers are a diverse group with wide-ranging needs from the savvy traveler, to those who may need extra assistance, the veteran flier, and those who avoid the airport where possible. This collection of tips and advice for senior travelers is also varied and covers a range of different aspects of air travel.
1. A Seniors Discount May Apply
It used to be common practice that airlines offered discounts, even travel pass programs, geared specifically for seniors. This is not the case any longer. However, a senior's discount - usually about 10% - is sometimes offered on an airline's website or online booking site. Discounts do sometimes exist, just not very often.
When booking online, there are sometimes boxes to check off senior as an option - and again this may or may not have an impact on your airfare.
2. Consider Your Seating Options
Being a senior doesn't automatically mean that you can't sit in an exit row - but if you need extra assistance, you won't be eligible to sit in an emergency exit row seat. The point is, seating options are an important consideration.
If you find it a bit taxing to get up or trying to maneuver out of a window seat then seats with liftable armrests, and on the aisle will be important. Some also opt to be close to the lavatories instead of having to deal with being rows away from the facilities. If you have specific needs for seating, these are just a few considerations.
3. Baggage Assistance
Many of the bigger airports have porters that you can pay to lift your luggage and haul it where you need. Airline ground agents are rarely covered by their company if they assist you with lifting luggage and incurring injuries.
If you do need help lifting your luggage, look for a ramp or baggage agent who is trained in proper lifting procedures if you can't find a porter or someone else to assist.
4. Bring Your Medications With You
Lost luggage is a possibility with airlines - anywhere from 2-15 pieces of luggage per thousand do get lost at least temporarily. This makes it important to bring any of your daily medications with you in your carry-on if you can.
It simply isn't worth risking the loss of medications that you require regularly. Also, get an extra prescription in case any medications get forgotten or lost.
5. Check Your Gate Number Regularly
If you arrive early, double and triple check your gate number - gate changes can occur and the announcements are not
always easy to hear.
6. A Few Tips for Airport Security
For passing through airport security more quickly try to wear slip on shoes, and if you need to wear a belt, be ready to remove it.
Have any medications or liquids easily accessible so if a screener needs to look at them, they are easy to find, and easy to re-pack in your carry-on luggage.
7. Need Assistance? Wait to Deplane
If you require extra assistance, wait until the end to deplane instead of being stuck waiting in the aisle with everyone else and their carry-on, and use preboarding too for boarding your flights, even if you just need a bit of extra time to get to the aircraft.
8. Keep Carry-On Light if You Require Assistance
This is particularly true if you have asked for wheelchair assistance. Do not bring heavy carry on if requiring wheelchair assistance because it can be dangerous, luggage could tip a wheelchair. If carry-on can be easily held between the legs while seated in the wheelchair, or in your lap - great - but if not, it can be an accident waiting to happen.
9. If You Need Wheelchair Assistance Do Not Book the Last Flight of the Day
If you need wheelchair assistance do not book last flight of the day. There are times, especially with connecting flights, that it may be difficult to get to a flight when you require wheelchair assistance (when it isn't your chair, and you are waiting for an airline agent to assist).
If you miss a connection, and it was the last flight of the day, the airline is almost certainly responsible for your meals and accommodations until they can get you on the next flight, but honestly, the extra stress isn't worth it. To avoid this, just try and not make your flight be the last option of the day where possible.