Jun 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Get Ready… Get Set… Now Go Fly!

Experienced senior travelers have many tips and guides to help them have a successful flight free from stress or anxiety, especially those that may take several hours with an overseas destination. From my own personal experience I wish to share a few that I have experienced or have learned from others. They are in no particular order, but hopefully a couple will “ring a bell” with you and will help make your flight an even better one.

That tag that gets your suitcase to where it is supposed to go

It has been said that “someday I hope to go to every place where my bag has been.”  Not funny. I was in Marseilles France (MRS) taking a flight to Paris (CDG), on to O’Hare in Chicago (ORD) and finally to Cedar Rapids, Iowa (CID). I had made this trip several times after working for Elderhostel as a Tour Group Leader on their Food and Wine Programs in France (tough job, somebody has to do it!). Now…n.b. – Always, always pay attention to the code tag that is attached to your suitcase…your suitcase’s final destination.  There are currently 9,477 airports on record and you need to know only one code …your destination.  Back to my story, I looked down at my suitcase and noticed that it did not read CID but ABJ.  That’s Abdidjan on the Ivory Coast. I said, no no. She attached another and I told her that it must read CID.  The second tag read (CIP) Chipata, Zambia.  So I wrote it on a slip of paper and handed it to her.  She got it right the third time then offered to “bump me up to 1st Class” on the flight to CDG.  I did not mind at all, just too bad it was a short flight to Paris. When the group came on board and asked what I was doing in first class, I responded…”Don’t Ask!”  An IATA airport code, also known an IATA location identifier, IATA station code or simply a location identifier, is a three-letter code designating airports around the world, defined by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Know your destination codes.

A Few More Hints and Tips for Seniors

Baggage: Keep important items in your carry on and don’t check a bag unless you have to. Keep your bag in sight even as it goes through the security check.  Check your baggage tag with your name on it. Buy a good baggage tag. Be sure that it is safely attached filled out correctly and place another one inside your bag. Remove old tags including the last flight sticker. Some experienced senior travelers carry a photo of their checked bags in a carry on. Good idea as well. Make sure that your carry-ons comply with airline regulations for size. Resolve lost baggage issues immediately. Don’t leave without speaking to the appropriate airline staff and getting written acknowledgement of the lost luggage. Having experienced this a couple of times, I know that airlines do a super job of locating your luggage and getting it to your hotel or wherever you are staying.

On Board: Before being seated take out any inflight necessities from your carry-on before putting it in the overhead compartment. It can be difficult to retrieve once airborne especially if you are in a window seat.  Read the emergency card in the seat pocket as airplanes vary a great deal as to the various exits. Be courteous about putting your seat back slowly and gently so the person behind you is prepared. I’ve had my knees thumped a few time. Take your shoes off once the plane takes off to help manage swelling and for comfort. Dress comfortably with loose-fitting clothing. Bring a sleep mask. I love mine. There are a host of ideas on “how to sleep on a plane” and every person is different. Virginia Heffernan has these suggestions. Share your armrest and stay in your seat until it is your turn to deplane.

After you land: Always save your boarding pass in case you are not properly credited for frequent-flier miles. This can most often be taken care of later on-line, but you need that boarding pass with the figures on it to do it. Be careful opening your toiletries after a flight; the change in air pressure can cause bottles to ooze out.  Carry them in a zipper plastic bag.

Passenger rights: This Consumer Guide to Air Travel may be of aid as well and a good review for the less experienced senior voyager will pay off. There is even something called a Passenger Bill of Rights by ASTA. More people travel by air today than any time in aviation history, so it’s important for senior travelers to have the most up-to-date airport and safety information at their fingertips. Incidentally, if you have never used Flight Tracker here in the states, it is terrific. It even shows the airplane in the air, time it departed and the ETA (expected time of arrival). Bon Voyage and until next time. jeb

Tags: , , ,

One comment
Leave a comment »

  1. […]  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 […]

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.