SENIOR CITIZEN FLYING TIPSAug 16th, 2012 | By James E Becker | Category: Senior Travel
Seniors Fly High and Well
The number of travelers by air today is amazing. Seniors think nothing of heading for the airport to go visit a relative, for business, take a vacation or for dozens of other reasons. I just can’t imagine a senior who has not been in the air yet. Perhaps my mother who is 93, but over 90 doesn’t count. Maybe even 80. There are many great tips that can enhance any flight and hopefully one of two of these will ring a bell with you and will remain with you as you check in or prepare for your flight.
The airline industry has changed dramatically in recent years. Since the late 90′s it has become increasingly easy to book airline tickets on-line using a variety of methods that include printing out a boarding pass at home. A recent downturn in the economy has forced airlines to eliminate many routes, reduce the number of planes and cut jobs that leads to overcrowding on flights and fewer means to get where you want to go. The TSA has also overhauled the security process of getting through the airport to your gate.
A Few Tips For Senior Travelers
Know the difference between a “direct” flight and a “non-stop” flight. You’ll end up at your destination in either case but non-stop is what you want to opt for. For longer flights where meals are served, you can order vegetarian, vegan, salt-free or a kosher meal by letting the airline know ahead of time.
When using an e-ticket, always carry a hard copy as well. Shopping on-line has become a popular means for finding cheaper flight via Priceline, Cheapfares, Hotwire and Youpriceit. These are called “reverse-auction” sites. Just don’t bid too low or you’ll have to wait a while before you can bid again.
Most airlines post schematics of their planes on-line and even allow you to choose your seat, so why not use them. Don’t just assume that Orbitz, Travelocity or Expedia and other such sites will always offer you the best deal. You may just find the best prices on the airlines website, just don’t wait until a few days before takeoff to purchase your ticket(s).
And a Few More…
Check your flight status before you leave for the airport. If you are picking someone up at the airport, use Flight Aware to see if they have left yet, when the plane will arrive and you can even see where it is enroute over the states.
Use the computer check-in kiosks for a quick entrance to your flight. Know your terminal, flight number(s), take off and arrival times and don’t be afraid to ask employees in the airport any questions that you may have. In fact, I ask two people the same question to verify the first one.
Don’t bug the security folks by not emptying everything out of your pockets and don’t forget to have a valid ID like a driver’s license or a passport. Seniors, book your ticket with exactly the same name that is on your ID. Know your rights if you are bumped. Call your hotel if your flight is delayed. Pack diversions in your carry-on in case of delays…things like books, snacks, video games, etc.
Do not ever offer to watch someone else’s bags or ask anyone to watch yours. Keep your bags in sight always. Be alert when checking your bag that the three-letter airline code is correct.
Frequent Fliers Know This…
I told you once about my bag being sent to the Ivory Coast from Paris and not CDR in Iowa. I thought that this tip was a good one…carry a photo of your bag in case it is not there when you arrive. Also, know your rights in the event of lost luggage like mine in Brussels. U.S. Airlines are now required to be liable for a minimum of $2,500 per passenger for bags lost on domestic flights. It’s a rarity, but can happen with thieves in the baggage area of some airports. Resolve lost baggage issues immediately. Most often luggage is found and delivered at no charge to wherever you want it delivered (home, hotel, elsewhere) and they are very good about this.
Hey senior travelers, kick off your shoes as soon as you board the plane. Feet swell at high altitudes. Bring a quality sleep mask and ear plugs, especially for longer flights overseas. There are dozens more, but the last one is to advise you to stay in your seat until your turn to leave the plane. Hopefully you have eyed one or two of these that will make your flight more enjoyable. Bon Voyage! jeb