WASHINGTON, DC, Oct 15 — Americans are beginning to travel again. According to industry sources, US airline bookings are almost back to pre-COVID levels, foreshadowing a bustling holiday season. “Leisure travel has rebounded more quickly than even our bullish forecasts,” according to airline consultant Dan McKone of LEK. Consulting
Rebecca Weber, CEO of the Association of Mature American Citizens [AMAC], says this comes as good news for seniors, especially those who have been living in near isolation for more than a year and a half due to the pandemic. “The holiday season will get started soon and the news that they might be able to get together with their families again is welcome news, indeed. In addition, travel has its benefits as we get on in years; it aids both physical and mental health.”
It turns out that travel is an important element of senior life, she notes. One survey conducted last year by the National Institutes of Health, in which some 80% of respondents were between 65 and 75 years of age, showed that over 60% of aging passengers are planning to travel by air in the next 12 months despite the pandemic.
“If you are a senior and planning family reunion or a holiday vacation this fall, it can be helpful for you to create a checklist of things to do to ease the potentially uncomfortable aspects of air travel. And so, we’ve assembled a few timely tips that might come in handy,” says the AMAC CEO.
Airports are not the most senior-friendly venues, and in most cases, you’ll have lengthy waiting times before you can board your flight. Airline lounges offer a more comfortable way to pass the time than sitting in front of the departure gate, but it can be costly to join one of these “clubs” on an annual basis if you are not a frequent flyer. However, some of them allow you to purchase a more affordable daily pass, giving you access to a pleasant and comfortable environment in which to avoid the crowds.
It is particularly important for elderly travelers to keep important necessities handy during their flight. So, make sure your medications, travel documents, spare clothing, a sandwich or two, your cell phone, and charger are accessible when you are on board the plane. You may also want to pack wet wipes, tissues, extra glasses, contact lenses, toothbrushes, and toothpaste. Pack them in a carry-on bag and keep the bag close by, according to USA Today.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the boarding process is the TSA security check. You’ll be asked to take off your shoes, your jacket, and your belt, and that can be annoying, at best. But if you have mobility issues, it can be problematic. But you can avoid the hassle by obtaining a TSA Pre-Check membership. It costs $85, and you can apply for it online.
And don’t forget to bring along a few comfort items, things that might come in handy such as travel pillows and noise-reduction headphones, hand sanitizer, snacks, an extra pair of glasses, a money belt, and a travel alarm.