Sending an elderly loved one into a sometimes chaotic airport can be unnerving. You may begin to question if they will pick up any unwanted germs, will get lost, if they will miss their flight or what will happen if they accidentally fall. Saying goodbye in the main lobby can be worrisome, but, fortunately, some airports offer help to passengers who may need a little assistance.
Ensure your elderly loved one is equipped with the proper germ-fighting gear. You can never be too cautious. Masks are mandatory; make sure you provide them with a snug-fitting, thick mask to prevent any bacteria from entering their nose and mouth. Give them moisturizing hand sanitizer in their favorite scent and encourage them to use it at least every hour or every time they touch something.
Unaccompanied Minor and Senior Service
Much like the unaccompanied minor service, many airlines offer a program to help seniors traveling alone. These services will help your senior family member get to the correct gate, introduce them to the flight attendants, escort them to their next flight if they are connecting and will release them to the appropriate person when they land. Each airline has a different program, so call ahead to confirm what they offer. Most services do require a fee.
If you feel uncomfortable leaving your senior family member in the care of someone else, some airlines will allow you an escort pass. This pass will allow you to walk or wheel someone to the gate. Each airline has different policies for this pass. To obtain one, you must present a valid, government-issued ID at the check-in desk and go through airport security as if you are a boarding passenger. By doing so, you will be cleared and also will be accompanying your senior through the entire trip to their gate. This pass can be used to pick up your senior family member upon arrival. Airports in the United States do not allow this pass for incoming international flights due to customs and immigration regulations. This pass can also be used for minors and people with disabilities no matter what age.
Getting through long security lines is inevitable. For seniors, this process can be a bit confusing if they are unaware of the latest protocol. Before departure day, sit down and look over what items can and cannot be put in a checked or carry-on bag. Doing so will speed up the process, especially if the senior traveling cannot stand for long periods of time. Advise your traveling senior to not wear jewelry, belts or shoes that may be hard to get off.
Consider TSA PreCheck
If your senior traveler cannot stand for extended periods of time, consider opting for TSA PreCheck. For an additional $85, passengers can receive a card good for five years that allows passengers going through security to leave on shoes, jackets, belts and keep laptops in cases. TSA PreCheck can help seniors with limited mobility get through security quicker and without too much hassle.
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