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Standing in line at the crowded airport, waiting to board my very full plane, I noticed an elderly couple with their daughter. Two of them were sitting in chairs while the senior mom was in a wheelchair. Since they were clearly on the wrong side of the line for the pre-boarding offered to those with disabilities and their companions, I walked over and asked them if they knew about pre-boarding.
I have to admit, I was afraid I'd be rebuffed. (Can you tell I've had that happen in the past when sharing information I thought people might not know. 🙂 ). Everyone knows about the preboarding option for seniors and others with special needs, right? Wrong! They did not know and were quite grateful I told them.
This was a Southwest flight with no assigned seating. They would have had such a difficult time navigating the aisles to find a seat several rows back. As it was, when I boarded the plane a few minutes after they had, I smiled at them sitting comfortably in the very front row. I was so glad that I had spoken up. I don't know if all airlines offer preboarding, but Southwest and ATA both do. Whatever your airline, it's well worth asking about.
Another good travel tip when traveling with aging parents is to make full use of loaner wheelchairs for any seniors or others who are not able to walk a normal, let alone fast, pace. My senior mom is usually able to walk on her own but she has to move very slowly. If we don't have much time for transitioning from one flight to another, she might not make it to the other flight in time without the assistance of a wheelchair or one of the motorized mini-cars you see in many airports. Even if our aging parents don't want this type of transport, sometimes because they are embarrassed, it's important for them to realize it's a practical necessity that is required in these days of airline security issues, overcrowded terminals, and their health needs.
It's a great idea to discuss these subjects a couple of times before a trip to make sure that any concerns regarding your aging parents and their travel needs are dealt with ahead of time, making for an easier and less-stressful trip for both of you.