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Good to Know: Help for older parents (or anyone) unfamiliar with flying

The Transportation Security Administration offers its own assistance

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.  Photo Credit: Dreamstime/TNS/Manuel Faba

“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 Transportation Security Administration 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.

  • Travelers in the New York metropolitan area can find accessibility information about Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark-Liberty airports at jfkairport.com/at-airport/accessibility-services.
  • Information about accessibility services at Long Island MacArthur Airport is available at macarthurairport.com/airport-info/travelers-with-additional-needs or by calling TSA Cares at 855-787-2227.
Source: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Long Island MacArthur Airport

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