Airline Travel and Older Adults – What to Know Before You Go

Posted by Anne Hein on November 15, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Flying can be stressful for anyone. However, for older adults who are more likely to have health issues and physical limitations, the airport can be even more taxing.

If you’re a senior (or traveling with one), here are some tips to make airline travel a little easier.

Booking the Flight

If you have any special needs – such as a wheelchair, medical oxygen or assistance getting into and out of a seat – request them at the time of booking. Most likely, you will need to call the airline.


For greater ease getting on and off the plane, request an aisle seat near the front of the aircraft.

Navigating the Airport

Transportation to and from the gate and baggage claim are available. However, check with your airline to see if a wheelchair escort or electric cart ride need to be reserved in advance or can be requested at check-in.

Getting Through Security

Passengers 75 and older can wear their shoes and a light jacket during screening. However, if an alarm goes off, you may be required to remove shoes or undergo a pat-down. If you are unable to stand, you will be screened through other security methods. Some airports also have a lane for seniors or those with disabilities, so they don’t have to wait as long.

The TSA recommends clearly labeling all medications. Medically necessary liquids and creams over 3.4 ounces are allowed but must be removed from the carry-on bag and screened separately. Ice packs and other accessories used to cool medications must in the solid state at the security checkpoint. (Slushy or partially frozen items are subject to the same screening as other medically necessary liquids.)

If you have a medical device or implant, other screening procedures may apply.

If you think you may need assistance during the security process or have any questions, call or email TSA Cares 72 hours prior to traveling.

Boarding the Plane

Most airlines offer priority seating to seniors or those needing assistance. Remember, flight attendants are there to help you get safely to your destination. Ask for assistance putting carry-on bags into the overhead bins or with any other needs that arise during your flight.  

For additional information on flying, check out the TSA’s frequently asked questions. You can also email, call, tweet or Facebook message the agency.   

Topics: Aging, Activities and Lifestyle

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