Tips For Traveling With Your Grandparents

Traveling on your own can be challenging; add your elderly grandparents into the mix and things can get dicey. But if you come up with a plan ahead of time, it will be smooth sailing – err, smooth flying – the next time you travel with Grandma.

We’ll give you one tip in advance: reserve your DTW airport parking now so you don’t have any surprises or stress later.

1.    Plan Ahead

Do a little research on the Metro Detroit Airport before you go, as well as your specific flight. The Air Carrier Access Act says that all airlines must disclose information about the flight in advance to travelers who have mental or physical disabilities. If your grandparent is in a wheelchair or has Alzheimer’s, it’s helpful to arm yourself with this information ahead of time so you can prepare.

Here’s what to find out about your upcoming flight:

  • Type of bathrooms and whether they are handicap accessible or not
  • Aisle seat locations with movable armrests
  • Seats that are not available to passengers with disabilities, i.e., exit row seat
  • Potential limitations affecting the ability of a person to fly on the aircraft
  • Storage facilities for mobility aids

Call the airline for this information or browse their website. You may have to fill out medical forms in order to bring certain medical equipment with you onto the plane.

2.    Get Air Travel Assistance For Seniors

If your elderly grandparent plans to travel alone, it’s a good idea to look into air travel assistance for seniors. The Air Carrier Access Act also requires that airlines offer assistance for the elderly when boarding and deplaning, or even when making connections. You could also hire a concierge service to help your grandparent navigate the airport, or exercise the right to accompany them to the gate, even when you are not flying with them. Inquire about an escort pass.

3.    Assess Health Issues

Health issues can certainly complicate the travel process, but when you prepare for medical issues ahead of time, you can boost the chance of a successful flight. Ask your grandparent’s doctor about any health issues prior to booking the trip, and how they can best be accommodated. Ask if any of their medical conditions could make it unsafe for them to fly. Obtain a medical certificate or document that outlines any medical conditions your grandparent may have in the event a medical issue comes up during the flight. These documents will ensure a higher level of assisted travel.

4.    Accommodate Mobility Devices

Flying with a wheelchair may sound daunting, but it’s not a big deal when you plan ahead. They can bring their own wheelchair or they can use a free one at the airport. Wheelchair assistance is ideal for elderly travelers who may not technically need a wheelchair to function but who may have some mobility issues. If you don’t have your own wheelchair, reserve one in advance from the airline.

Check your personal wheelchair at the gate, just as you would with a stroller for your child. This way, your grandma can remain in her wheelchair at the gate. If she can’t walk to her seat, she can transfer from her wheelchair to an aisle chair right before takeoff.

5.    Manage Parking

Airport parking can seem like a hassle – especially when traveling with the elderly. And if they suffer from mobility issues, things can get even more tricky. Book your DTW airport parking reservation when you book your airline tickets. Just show up, show your ticket, and your parking is all set.

You can get dropped off right at the terminal and picked up there as well by shuttles. Our valet services also offer covered parking for your car, so it’s ready to go when you are.

6.    Prepare For Security

All passengers have to go through security screening at the designated checkpoints. However, modifications exist for elderly passengers as well as those with disabilities. Get familiar with the TSA rules before you fly so your senior traveler will have an easier time.

Inform your TSA officer of your elderly grandparents’ health or medical conditions that could interfere with the routine screening process. Wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, and canes are all subject to screening. If your grandpa can’t walk through the screening device, he may get a pat down while in his wheelchair. Passengers 75 or older can opt for an expedited screening process.

7.    Pack Medication Correctly

Properly packing medication and keeping it safe for the duration of travel is key. Here are some tips:

  • Pack all medicines in a carry-on.
  • Leave medication in the original packaging with clear labels.
  • Label medically-necessary liquids, which are permitted in amounts larger than the specified 3.4-ounce limit in a carry-on.
  • Declare all medications before entering the security checkpoint.
  • Request the airline staff remind your grandparent to take their medication in flight if you won’t be traveling with them. They can remind them, but they can’t administer the meds.

8.    Reserve Special Services

Schedule any special services ahead of time to ensure your grandparent gets the necessary support while minimizing delays. For instance, you can request seats with extra legroom, or you can opt for early boarding. For long flights with meals, ask for specialty meals that meet your loved one’s dietary restrictions.

9.    Make Wise Flight Decisions

Before booking a flight, explore all flight options. Think about the ideal time of day to fly. Does your grandma function best early in the morning, or in the afternoons after her nap and lunch? Think about her medication schedule as well.

How many layovers will there be? A direct flight is always best when traveling with the elderly. Choose aisle seats with flip-up armrests for easier transitions.

Reserve Parking Before You Fly With Grandpa

It’s possible to avoid a lot of the stress of parking and heavy traffic when you decide to reserve a spot ahead of time. Grab a convenient shuttle and take a stress-free ride with your grandparents (and all their gear) right to the terminal entrance.

Contact Valet Connections at (734) 992-4946 to reserve your parking spot today.