Nowadays, air travel is no longer as fun and inexpensive as it used to be since 911, thanks to tighter airport security checks. This is especially true for senior travelers with limited mobility challenges. Enhanced security measures will require you to do some simple planning in advance that can make your air travel more enjoyable, healthier, and cheaper. Here are some tips to help you achieve those goals:
1. Book a direct (non-stop) flight whenever possible. This will eliminate the trouble and stress of maneuvering through a crowded airport and possibly missing your connection due to delays with the originating flight.
2. Make your flight schedule known to friends and family members who drop you off or pick you up. If possible, provide specific instructions, such as the exact date, time, and location to meet you.
3. Take advantage of airline assistance. Notify your airline ahead of time if you require a wheelchair or other types of help to and from the plane. Airline staff can assist you in getting your baggage and finding your connecting flight.
4. Allow yourself extra time to arrive at the airport as well as to find your security entrance and departure gate.
5. Pack important travel items with your carry-on in case your checked luggage gets lost. These items include daily medications, travel-related documents (passport and ID), phone chargers, energy snacks, clean underwear, toothbrush/toothpaste, and any valuables (camera, jewelry, computer, and so forth). Use a packing checklist to ensure you do forget anything.
6. During the long flight, drink at least several cups of water to avoid dehydration. Try get up to do some stretching whenever allowed or simply walk up and down the aisle for a few minutes. This is believed to lower your risk of developing DVT (deep vein thrombosis) and leg cramps. If you bring a water bottle, be sure it is empty before going through security and fill it at a water fountain before boarding.
To help save money on your airfare, you can…
- Sign up for airline and travel newsletters and deal alerts.
- Book tickets at least 1 month in advance. If possible, pick your flights in off-peak seasons and look into alternate airports.
- Be flexible with your dates. For example, the savings can often be significant if you are willing to depart on a Tuesday morning rather than a Friday evening. Try to fly on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday because more seats are available on these days and such flights have correspondingly lower fares.
- Pay attention to fees. Airlines now tend to charge fees for things like checked baggage, food, and seating assignments, so consider packing only two carry-on items and bringing your own snacks to save additional fees.
- Always check the details and restrictions when buying a flight. If you cannot find the fine print on the website, call the airline.