Airports Becoming More Age-Friendly

Freedom to travel is one of the privileges that older adults look forward to with anticipation in their retirement years but navigating airports can be challenging for seniors with health and mobility problems.  As the number of older adults continues to soar with the aging baby boomer generation, more airports are implementing services and designs and educating staff to improve the travel experience for seniors.

From making restroom signs and airport maps more visible to creating a hearing loop for travellers with hearing aids to tune into and listen for announcements, airports like San Francisco International Airport are working to make travel less stressful and more enjoyable for older patrons.  Raised seating is also planned for portions of waiting areas to allow for easier sitting and standing.  According to a recent San Francisco Chronicle report, by 2030, nearly 1 in 3 San Francisco residents will be over the age of 60 and many travel frequently. 

As airport terminals are renovated, designers are increasingly considering the needs of older adults and people in wheelchairs or with other mobility problems.  The Transportation Security Administration in the United States doesn’t require travellers over the age of 75 to remove their shoes or a light jacket unless they are required to pass through additional screening.  TSA will also accommodate someone in a wheelchair and passengers with medical conditions or disabilities using TSA PreCheck are not required to remove shoes, laptops, liquids, belts or light jackets.  Curbside pickup with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle through Uber or Lyft can also make the journey easier for seniors with mobility problems. 

Older adults should always check with their doctor before travelling and call ahead for any airline accommodations.  Prescriptions and health care information including insurance, medications, conditions, doctors, allergies and an advanced directive should all be stored in carry-on luggage.   Choosing an aisle seat can also make it easier for older adults to use the bathroom, especially during long flights. 

Learn more travel tips for seniors by following this link to the AARP transportation section.