Senior Living

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Health & Spirit

Help for older parents unfamiliar with flying … or anyone who needs it

By Kerri Westenberg, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Senior Living Features

"I was wondering if you might speak to any travel tips for seniors who haven't flown for several years," a reader recently wrote to ask. She will be traveling with her parents to a family event, and it will be her parents' first flight in more than a decade.

That situation could be daunting - to the parents and their travel guide. But there are ways to ease the trip.

Airlines provide wheelchairs for use throughout the terminal. It's best to request one at the time of booking.

Some airports such as Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport offer Travelers Assistance information booths inside security to help guide people to their gates.

Rides on electric carts are also available. At MSP, pickup spots are noted with signs above blue chairs with a wheelchair icon.

Pack medicines in carry-on bags, even if they are liquid such as insulin. Be sure the medicine is clearly marked, take it out of the bag during the screening process and point it out to the TSA official.

 

A program called Navigating MSP can familiarize fliers who are uneasy with security checkpoints, crowds of people and long lines. Once a month, it brings people to the airport for a run through the security and boarding processes, though the plane never takes off. Initially designed to help children with autism, the program now services anyone. The website offers online step-by-step guides, too, which can answer questions and ease worry (mspairport.com/navigating).

The Transportation Security Administration offers its own assistance for anyone who is daunted by the security process. Such fliers can request a passenger support specialist. Call 72 hours before traveling (1-855-787-2227; tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support).

Call on these services when needed, because travel is enriching and should be accessible, no matter your age.

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

 

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