According to the AARP’s report on travel trends, in 2021, 67 percent of Americans aged 50 and up said they planned to travel in 2022. Many planned to take at least four trips. While domestic and international travel decreased in 2020 and 2021 due to concerns about COVID-19 and safety, it was clear that travel among older adults is bouncing back.
Travel can be a wonderful experience: We are never too old to explore new places, experience different cultures, and check locations off of our bucket list. However, at a certain point, we no longer want to race through the airport to check in for a flight or become flustered or overwhelmed in a crowded security line. Our goal is relaxed, calm, and stress-free travel. While certain aspects of the travel experience will always be out of our control, there are some things you can do to make air travel a better experience as an older adult.
- Check in online. If you have not taken a flight in recent years, you will want to make a note of this shift—most airlines let you check in for your flight up to 24 hours in advance. This is mainly important so that you can select your seat. If your ideal spot is an aisle seat or near the front of the plane, you will want to be one of the first people to check in online for your flight.
- Get to the airport early. The worst thing that could happen is you have time to read a book, work on a crossword puzzle, or chat with your travel companion prior to boarding your flight. The more time you have to check in, get through security, check baggage, grab a coffee or food, and get settled, the more relaxed you will be to start your trip. The general rule of thumb is to arrive at least two hours prior to your flight’s scheduled departure time—and make that three hours for an international flight. There’s always a chance that the security line could be long, and you don’t want to feel rushed—particularly if you have any mobility issues.
- Consider TSA PreCheck. Anyone of any age can apply for TSA PreCheck. It involves an online application, a short in-person appointment for fingerprinting and a background check, and a small fee. But once approved, you would be covered for five years. If you are a frequent air traveler, this may be worth your time.
- Ask about expedited boarding. This will depend on your airline, but oftentimes older adults with disabilities or mobility challenges can board the airline early. If you get expedited boarding, you can be one of the first people on the plane—allowing you to get to your seat faster and find space for any overhead baggage in the overhead compartment.
We hope these tips will help you have a better air travel experience in the future!