Getting through airport security quickly can be a challenge, even for the most seasoned traveller, but it can be even more challenging for seniors who may have physical limitations, disabilities, medical conditions or who are simply unfamiliar with the air travel protocol.
The first thing all travellers should do is read and understand the airport security process. Know what you will be expected to do when you get to the security area, what you can and can’t bring with you in your carry-on bag, where to go for assistance and other rules that pertain to any specific needs you have. For example, if you are in a wheelchair, you should take the time to research the process for getting through the airport and clearing security, and how to book assistance.
The more you know about getting through the airport, the fewer issues you are likely to have and the quicker you will be able to get through the security gates. To ensure that you can get assistance in case you run into travel issues, it is strongly recommended that you purchase travel insurance for seniors.
To simplify your next airport security experience, here are some tips all senior travellers should read:
- Give yourself lots of time: You know your limitations and you know how long it can take to get through the airport. Make sure you arrive early enough so that you have plenty of time to check in your bags, get through security and board the flight.
- Make all medications accessible for inspection: Make sure that any medications you bring are properly labelled and accessible for security staff to inspect. As a backup, it is also a good idea to have proof of a prescription or a doctor’s note. If possible, carry all medications in their original packaging. Try to limit the amount of medication you have in your carry-on to the essentials you need for the flight. Learn more about travelling with medications.
- Call the airline ahead of time: It is always a good idea to call your airline in the days leading up to your flight to notify them of any limitations you have. They may be able to provide assistance to help you get through the airport.
- Notify security of mobility issues when you get in line: If you have an issue with walking, standing or any other mobility-related challenges, notify security so they can accommodate your condition. If you are in a wheelchair, request that you use the special needs lane.
- Notify security of metal implants before your screening: When you get to the security screening area, make sure you notify security if you have an artificial hip, knee replacement or any other metal implants.
- Notify security of internal or external medical devices before your screening: The type of screening you will receive depends on the medical device you have. For example, if you have a pacemaker, it is recommended that you not be screened by a metal detector. For other devices, tell security where the device is on your body and any limitations you may have.
- Be aware that you may be subjected to additional screening: If you have any casts or braces, you may be required to undergo additional screening. Officers may request to inspect the cast or brace.
- Ask for boarding assistance as soon as you get to the gate: If you need assistance boarding the plane, request it as soon as you get to the gate. Airlines generally allow assisted boarding before the normal boarding process begins.
Perhaps the best piece of advice is to be friendly. It is amazing how helpful people can be when you are polite and greet them with a smile.