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Too old to travel?

Too old to travel?

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Old Jun 4, 18, 10:22 am
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Too old to travel?

I am getting older. Security lines, waiting to board, uncomfortable seats, long distance travel, changing connecting flights, unfriendly and super large airports, are all taking a toll on me.
How old is too old for travel? Have you seen any passengers who shouldn't be traveling (Other factors besides just being old)?
Example-many traditional Indians wouldn't eat anything in the plane and literally starve. My father who was a severe diabetic and practically blind didn't, wouldn't eat anything during his flight (this was 30 years back when flying was much easier). A four hour delay in connecting flight practically caused a major medical emergency. I am aware that many elderly people around the world practically decided not to travel anymore, even to see their children/grandchildren.
How is it now for ailing older people?
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Old Jun 4, 18, 11:11 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk. Having just traveled with my parents who are in good health, but slowing down a bit at 80, I can certainly empathize and see how challenging and unfriendly airports and travel can be as we age. Travel shouldn't have to stop unless you want it to, however, and I'd like to think there are ways to make it comfortable (TSA making screening a bit easier on seniors and free programs such as mobile passport that make immigration easier come to mind), It's an important question and I hope you find helpful suggestions here. This particular forum is about charitable endeavors so I'm going to move this to TravelBuzz.

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Old Jun 4, 18, 11:16 am
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My 81 year old father in law is flying from GIG to YYC in 2 weeks. He is an avid traveller.

It's technically not the age, but the flyer's physical and mental condition that matters.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 11:24 am
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TSA has made screening easier on seniors. At age 75, shoes, belts and light outerwear no longer have to be removed.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 11:53 am
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I am facing this myself. I think it is an individual thing, based on physical condition, need for access to medical care, mobility and other factors. One person may be fine to travel at 80+ and another might need to slow down or even stop traveling at 70. There is no way to make a standard response.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 1:52 pm
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My mom is 92, and loves to travel. She has done more travel since my sisters and I have been able to use our miles to take her places. She needs a walker now (which allows her to scamper quickly through an airport) and cannot lift a carryon up to the overhead bins so we ensure someone is traveling with her or ensure that she checks her bags. On the other hand, my mother-in-law is 95 and refuses to do any travel out of state anymore. She used to be a world traveller, but completed all of her bucket list items and just wants to be at home now. So, no set age to be "tool old", but rather it is a mind set, and if travel is still desired figuring out how to travel comfortably.-which is what we all do regardless of our ages, right?
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Old Jun 4, 18, 3:27 pm
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My grandmother was still flying long haul into her 90s. She walked the Great Wall of China on her 90th birthday and 2 years later visited her great great granddaughter in Perth Australia. Feisty until the end.

Now my mother has hit 80 she too has the bug though she's sticking with Europe for now. She's been to Japan once but wants to go again with me.

So, there's no age limit, just will and ability.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 4:00 pm
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I agree that it's a function of health more than age. Dad is 87 and prefers car travel because he's on a medication that means he urinates more frequently than normal. Not good if the plane is sitting on the runway for 2 hours or there's a line to use the lav. My 80-year old DBIL didn't make it to DH's funeral because DBIL couldn't walk very far without stopping to catch his breath (emphysema) and, having traveled very little, probably would have been totally confused when making a connecting flight (nonstops not available). DH and I took our last trip together when he was 77- it was Iceland and we loved it, although I'd already gotten used to a slower pace and having a hotel room with space for DH to spread out and relax at the end of the day while I went out and explored a little more. We also started flying only Business Class on long-hauls a few years before that and planned the trip with fewer stops- maybe two hotels in a week and a half. What I loved about him was that he was up for whatever he could enjoy within his current limitations. I did an excursion into a volcano that was way too strenuous for him and he happily enjoyed my pictures and stories when I returned. I should also mention that it helps to have a younger, healthier traveling companion. I can honestly say he could not have made most of the trips we did in the last few years without me.

I'm 65 and hope I have many years of interesting travel ahead of me; was just on a group tour of India and Nepal with my 70-year old Aunt and we had a blast. (She and the doctor in the group were the ones who tracked down the guide for help when I had a bad case of dehydration; she had a good laugh when I told her I'd figured it would be good fro me to be on the trip to care for my elderly Auntie and the reverse happened.)

Last edited by Athena53; Jun 4, 18 at 4:05 pm
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Old Jun 4, 18, 8:58 pm
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Being old has nothing to do with it imo. Health and experience has everything to do with it. I feel bad for those who confuse/disorient easily. I see it from time to time and just wonder how that person was left to travel on their own, especially when transferring at some of these mega hubs we have now.

If you can get around on your own, have a decent sense of direction and can read, then I feel like you're good to go.

Maybe you just change your travel a little bit. Like I also feel bad, and this is very specific, for the older Indian people I see at work (YVR) who are travelling on mainland Chinese carriers. I flew MU and MANY elderly Indians were on board that spoke virtually no English, the flight attendants English was at BEST mediocre. So everyone just gets frustrated. Air India isn't an option from YVR, but AC does fly direct to India now from both here and YYZ and they'd for sure have a flight attendant who either speaks Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu or maybe all 3. It'll cost more to fly direct, but it seems like a small price to pay to keep elderly people in that situation in a far more accommodating situation.
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Old Jun 4, 18, 9:26 pm
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There was a Chinese woman traveling from PSC to SEA to PEK. I was scheduled on her PSC SEA flight, and was at the GA stand waiting to talk to the GA bout changing my seat. PSC is a small station where the GA also meets the flight (guides plane in, rolls up stairs, runs the yellow safety tape, etc) This poor woman was thinking she had missed her flight (it was about 15-20 minutes late) and kept showing her boarding pass and her phone (she wanted them to talk to her son who could tell her what was going on). It was obvious she was scared and the poor GA kept trying to reassure her she was fine, her connections were ok - she had plenty of time in SEA to get to her DL gate, but the woman just did not understand and grew visibly upset when the GA explained she had to leave to greet the plane. So, I stepped in and talked to her son, explained what was going on and told him I would walk her to her gate at SEA (SEA was my final destination and I was planning on taking an Uber home so I had lots of time to do this) and he translated that to her. So was obviously very relieved. I even called DL to ask if someone speaking mandarin would be at SEA and if I could bring her over to them if so. They made a note on her record about possibly needing a translator. Once we got over to the A gates she asked a young man if he spoke mandarin, he did, and he offered to take her to her plane as it turns out he was on her flight too. Because others have helped me out when I have been lost I make it a point to try to help others as much as I can. Airports can be confusing even to experienced travellers!
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Old Jun 4, 18, 9:49 pm
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Originally Posted by ctporter View Post
There was a Chinese woman traveling from PSC to SEA to PEK. I was scheduled on her PSC SEA flight, and was at the GA stand waiting to talk to the GA bout changing my seat. PSC is a small station where the GA also meets the flight (guides plane in, rolls up stairs, runs the yellow safety tape, etc) This poor woman was thinking she had missed her flight (it was about 15-20 minutes late) and kept showing her boarding pass and her phone (she wanted them to talk to her son who could tell her what was going on). It was obvious she was scared and the poor GA kept trying to reassure her she was fine, her connections were ok - she had plenty of time in SEA to get to her DL gate, but the woman just did not understand and grew visibly upset when the GA explained she had to leave to greet the plane. So, I stepped in and talked to her son, explained what was going on and told him I would walk her to her gate at SEA (SEA was my final destination and I was planning on taking an Uber home so I had lots of time to do this) and he translated that to her. So was obviously very relieved. I even called DL to ask if someone speaking mandarin would be at SEA and if I could bring her over to them if so. They made a note on her record about possibly needing a translator. Once we got over to the A gates she asked a young man if he spoke mandarin, he did, and he offered to take her to her plane as it turns out he was on her flight too. Because others have helped me out when I have been lost I make it a point to try to help others as much as I can. Airports can be confusing even to experienced travellers!
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Old Jun 5, 18, 2:39 am
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I'm going to have to agree with the health/condition point over age thing. My recently late mother was one of two out of ELEVEN siblings to have left Ireland for England, spending her entire adult life there and would fly/sail over to visit at least once a year, if not more, from wherever she was (since 1999, it was Liverpool)

As time went on, her health deteriorated to the point of making assistance boarding and alighting fundamental to her being able to make the short trip across the Irish Sea, just consider she passed away at 54 and had declining health for almost a decade. Despite being on her own as well with failing eyesight, even though by the end of it she relied on help from taxi drivers in Liverpool (who were always willing to help anyway) and airport/easyJet staff (she was never the kind of person to want to rely on/inconvenience anyone), she was a resilient woman who still managed to get over enough before finally moving over there for her final days. It was hard for her but still did it no matter what.
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Old Jun 5, 18, 5:27 am
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My parents are approaching their seventies. I've eventually converted them to the virtues of business class travel. I explained to them time and time again how travelling business class would benefit them since we live at opposite sides of the world, eventually I explained that if it was the case of them deciding not to travel because t was too difficult or to travel in business class less frequently than it might be possible. The last flight to the antipodes they upgraded and realised that there is a massive difference, no queues at check in, no queues at security, lounge access, much more attention onboard etc, this can make the difference for an elderly traveller.
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Old Jun 5, 18, 7:33 am
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You know, I fully get your concern. I was thinking just such a thing while sitting in an airport not long ago. I have recently begun traveling internationally about twice a year, so I am not a road warrior, but I can negotiate an airport. I am 60, relatively fit, and do extensive research on the ins and outs of flying. I can handle my 50lb check-in bag and can get my carry-on in the overhead. My travel companion, 62, is less fit and has difficulty with bags. Neither of us as any physical issue that gets in the way of flying. However, you need to prepare for battlefield conditions when entering the airport and I can see how a person who is not workout fit and not cognitively clicking on all cylinders could have a major problem. The shear amount of time standing in lines that are slow and hot, signs that could mean anything, kiosks that don't work and when they do are indecipherable, barking TSAs, walks halfway across the airport for a bathroom, standing in a long line and then being told you are in the wrong long line so you have to drag the bags back across the airport to get in the line at the broken kiosk, being told this terminal doesn't have a precheck line so you go outside and walk two terminals down for precheck, then walk back. Juggling passports, boarding passes, IDs and luggage while TSAs scold and there is the constant pressure to hurry, hurry, hurry... And this is if everything goes well. If your transatlantic flight leaves three hours late and you miss your connection...I don't even want to think about it.

The only suggestion I have for older people flying (anyone over 30) is work out so you can handle your bags, get to the airport WAAAAYYYY early so the only rush is self-imposed, practice not becoming flustered when TSAs snarl, and medicate so that you don't start smashing the kiosk that won't work or flipping out while inching forward when you've been in line for an hour and it's 80 degrees, causing you to be thrown out of the airport.
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Old Jun 5, 18, 2:23 pm
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Originally Posted by RAAng View Post
However, you need to prepare for battlefield conditions when entering the airport and I can see how a person who is not workout fit and not cognitively clicking on all cylinders could have a major problem.
"Prepare for battlefield conditions"- sad, but what a perfect phrase! I mentally gird my loins every time I enter an airport. How long is the TSA line? Is the flight still posted on time? What are my chances of making/missing my connection? Have I denuded myself of all sharp and pointy objects? Did I forget, and wear the bra with the underwires that trips up the metal detector?

My brother took Dad on a golfing tour of Scotland when Dad was probably in his late 60s or early 70s. I'm guessing it was Business Class because my brother gets a lot of FF miles and status from business travel. Dad had flown a lot in the 1950s/1960s before deregulation and he was pretty shocked at what chaos it had become. The last time my parents attempted to fly, it was a nonstop from CLT to CMH (Columbus, OH) for a cousin's wedding when they were maybe 80 and 81. They were moved from Plane #1 to Plane #2 because of a mechanical problem. Guess what- Plane #2 had the same problem (same aircraft type). They got off THAT plane and the airline wanted to route them through DCA. My parents said no, and went home. I didn't blame them.
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