Top Tips for Pleasant Air Travel for Senior Citizens

Certified Senior Advisor®
Senior Home Safety Specialist®
20 years of medical equipment experience
Compassionately helping seniors and their caregivers solve challenges of aging

Air travel can be a difficult experience for anyone of any age but it is especially taxing for senior citizens. Use these air travel tips for senior citizens to make your next flight a smooth one. My most important tip? Call ahead and prepare in advance!

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senior citizens at the airport ticket counter

Now that you’ve retired, you have plenty of time to travel and see the places you’ve always wanted to see. Don’t let fears about air travel keep you at home! While flying can be a huge headache, it can also be a stress-free experience. These air travel tips for senior citizens will help you have a pleasant experience when you’re flying.

Video Guide: Air Travel Tips for Seniors

Air Travel for Senior Citizens (8 Tips for Success)

1. Request A Wheelchair From The Airport

Major airports are absolutely massive. Even if you’re in fairly good health, you might not have the stamina to walk all the way to your flight gate. Thankfully, if you’re worried about getting around the airport, you can simply request a wheelchair.

Although airports provide wheelchairs at no charge, you’ll want to plan ahead if you’re going to be wheeling yourself around. Airports have a limited supply of wheelchairs available. Contact the airport ahead of time so that you can reserve a wheelchair for yourself.

Some airports also offer courtesy carts for senior travelers. These mini motorized electric trucks hold several passengers and are driven by airport staff. Why walk when you can ride, right?

If you are planning on taking your own wheelchair on an airplane, you should make those arrangements well in advance as well.

airport cart sitting next to a wheelchair

2. Find A Way To Avoid Security Lines

Security lines are a big source of airport stress. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways for you to skip the lines and have a hassle-free experience. If you sign up for TSA Pre-Check membership you’ll be able to avoid the long lines and move through security in no time.

If you don’t want to pay for TSA Pre-Check, there are plenty of other options you can consider. For example, American Express Black Cardmembers can receive a membership credit! You can also join CLEAR or apply for Global Entry.

3. Take Advantage Of Senior Fares

One of the best things about growing older is having access to senior discounts! Many major airlines offer discounted rates to seniors. Before you book a flight, contact airlines and ask them about savings for seniors.

Senior discounts won’t just help you to save money on your trip! In many cases, asking about senior fares will give you more options. You’ll be able to find a flight that works for you, and you’ll be able to book that flight at the right price.

senior couple waiting on a flight with their luggage

4. Wear A Medical Alert System

Slips and falls are a major risk for seniors. While many falls occur in the home, it’s also possible to fall when you’re at the airport. If you wear a medical alert system while you travel, it will be easier for you to keep yourself safe.

Many medical alert systems have excellent fall detection. Modern devices usually have mobile integration, which means you can connect your system to your mobile device. Wearing a medical alert system can give you peace of mind.

5. Bring A List Of Emergency Contacts

If something does happen to you while you’re traveling, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to get you the help you need. For example, if you experience unusual physical symptoms, you may want to call your doctor and ask them for advice.

While it’s possible to store contact information on your phone, it’s a good idea to carry a list with you as well. If your phone is lost, or if you need someone else to call for help on your behalf, you’ll be able to rely on the list you’re carrying.

senior citizens sitting in airport waiting area

6. Always Keep Your Medications With You

If you’re going to be checking a bag, you’ll want to make sure medications and other essentials aren’t stored in that bag. You’ll want to carry prescription and over-the-counter medication with you on your flight.

People often assume that they don’t need to keep medication in their carry-on bag if they’re not going to be taking medication on the plane. Unfortunately, major airlines lose approximately 2 bags per 1,000 passengers. Prepare for the worst and make sure your medication is with you at all times.

7. Choose Comfortable Shoes

If you don’t ask the airport for a wheelchair, you can expect to spend a lot of time walking around at the airport! That’s why you’ll want to make sure you wear comfortable and supportive shoes. You may want to use orthotic inserts so that your feet have the support that they need.

Worried about taking your shoes off when you go through security? You may be able to keep your shoes on the entire time you’re at the airport! Travelers that are 75 or older aren’t required to remove their shoes.

senior couple asking for assistance at the airport

8. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Assistance

Speak up and request help if you need it! Airlines are willing to make many accommodations for seniors if you ask. Be vocal about what you need. If you’re worried about traveling to the gate on your own, you may be able to receive a gate pass that will allow a friend or family member to accompany you. If you need help boarding the plane, a flight attendant will be able to help you.

While you can ask for help while you’re at the airport, you may have a smoother experience if you request assistance ahead of time. Contact both the airline and the airport and tell them about any accommodations that you’ll need.

What other air travel tips do you have for senior citizens? Have you had an experience that you found out later could have been avoided? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below!

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Senior Home Safety Specialist (SHSS)®
Assistive Technology Professional

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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