Tips for Safe and Successful Air Travel With Elderly Parents

There are so many things to be concerned about when planning air travel with elderly parents. Use this guide and tips to take away some of stress and worry so that everyone has a safe and pleasant trip!


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smiling woman traveling with elderly parent

Travel is something you can enjoy at any age! Whether you’re 9 or 90, senior travel allows you to see new places, meet new people, and get more out of life. Travelling can also be a wonderful opportunity for family bonding.

While traveling can be incredibly rewarding, air travel with elderly parents isn’t always easy. Air travel allows you to visit locations all over the world, but it can also be challenging. You have to pass through security check lines and bring important documents before you board your flight. The air on planes can be very dry, which can irritate respiratory ailments. Planes can also be noisy, which can be a source of stress.

However, you don’t need to let these tips keep you from seeing the world! Follow these suggestions, and you and your senior parents can have great time when you fly.

1. Try To Book A Non-Stop Flight

If possible, you’ll want to book a non-stop flight to your destination. While a non-stop flight can be more expensive, it can save you a lot of stress. If your flight is delayed, you may not have much time to make your connecting flight. You might be able to dash across the airport, but that doesn’t mean that your parents can.

By booking a non-stop flight, you’ll also be able to reduce your total travel time. You and your family members will be able to spend less time on a plane and more time enjoying your destination.

ALSO READ: Tips for Air Travel for Seniors

2. Stick To Major Airlines

Smaller airlines often have cheaper fares. However, many of these airlines don’t provide the same accommodations for seniors that larger airlines offer. When you choose to fly with a small, low-cost airline, you may also be making certain sacrifices. For example, you might not be able to select your seats in advance, which could keep you from sitting next to your family members.

Instead of taking a risk on a small airline so that you can save, you should fly with a major airline that you know you can trust. American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, Frontier, and other major airlines all provide resources for senior travel. When you choose the right airline, you’ll have a better experience overall.

senior couple at airport waiting on flight

3. Look At Disability Options When You’re Booking Your Flight

During the booking process, you’ll want to take the time to look at the disability options that are offered. Many airlines allow customers to specify the accommodations that they need when they are booking a flight.

Special arrangements should be made if you are looking to take a wheelchair on an airplane. For example, if one or both of your parents are in a wheelchair, you can let the airline know that they will need wheelchair assistance.

If you do not see disability options during the booking process, you’ll want to contact the airline by phone. It’s important to ask for these kinds of accommodations from the airline in advance. You may also want to contact the airport you’ll be flying out of and ask them about the accommodations that they offer. If your parents have mobility issues, the airport may be able to provide them with a wheelchair.

4. Keep Medications In Your Carry-On Bag

As people grow older, they’re more likely to rely on prescription medication. You should make sure that your parents store their medication in their carry-on bags, even if they don’t anticipate that they’ll need to take medication during their flight. It’s possible for checked luggage to be lost or delayed. Storing medication in carry-on bags ensures that your family members will have access to the medication that they need.

When flying, all medications should be stored in their original labeled containers. You’ll also want to bring copies of prescriptions with you when you travel. If you’re traveling to a foreign country, you may also want to bring a note from the prescribing doctor. This is especially important if your parents are carrying injectable medications with them, like insulin.

5. Learn More About TSA Pre-Check

One of the biggest hassles of flying is going through security. Removing shoes can be difficult for seniors with mobility issues. TSA Pre-Check allows you to skip the long lines and keep your shoes on.

Membership costs $85 and lasts for five years. Even if your family members aren’t a part of the TSA Pre-Check program, airports may allow them to go through the Pre-Check line. It can’t hurt to ask if this is an option!

senior couple sitting at the airport

6. Book Flights At The Right Time

Flights that are early in the morning or late at night can be a struggle for seniors. When you’re booking flights, you’ll want to make sure that the flight time won’t be an issue for anyone in your travel party.

If possible, you should try to book a flight in the afternoon. This will allow everyone to leave for the airport at a reasonable time, and it won’t be too late when you arrive at your destination. If you book your flights at the right time, everyone will have a better experience.

What other concerns do you have about traveling by air with elderly parents? Do you have other tips to share? Please do in the comments below!

About Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS® 305 Articles
Assistive Technology Professional, Custom Wheelchair Specialist, Medical Equipment Guru, Dad and Grandfather
I am a lucky dad to four awesome daughters and grandfather to three pretty terrific grandkids. When not working as a custom wheelchair specialist at a regional home medical equipment company, I enjoy early morning runs and occasional kayak trips. I am also a self-admitted nerd who loves anything from the 1980's. Learn More

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