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Airport advice for older people

31st July 2019

There’s nothing quite like the excitement that accompanies travelling abroad for a holiday. Whether you’ve chosen a relaxing summer getaway where you can soak up the sun, an educational city break, with exceptional architecture that’s sure to take your breath away, or something a little colder, there’s a destination for everyone. However, if you haven’t visited an airport recently, you may find it slightly daunting.

For those with low mobility, you may worry about the ease of travelling around the airport. Disabled blogger and travel writer, Carrie-Ann Lightley, shared this advice about travelling from an airport:

“I use airport assistance to help me on to the plane, but until I get to that point I travel independently. I prefer to shop, eat and drink in the airport at my own pace, and would rather not spend lots of time waiting in a special assistance lounge. After all, the airport is the beginning of your holiday - an experience to be enjoyed!”

With large terminals boasting a number of different gates, shops and restaurants, you may wonder how you’re going to cover the distance required before you board your flight. Fortunately, airports are incredibly accessible places numerous different features and facilities that mean that your holiday runs smoothly from the start.

Getting to the airport

One of the benefits that accompany arranging a holiday within the UK is the travel. If you have a vehicle that has been modified to allow accessible access, you can rest assured knowing that you will have a comfortable journey in familiar surroundings. However, this does mean that your destination options are limited. Although a staycation can make a great option for a weekend getaway, there’s nothing quite like boarding a plane. With this in mind, there are a couple of different travel arrangements that you need to take into consideration before you arrive at the airport.

Before you book your trip, you need to think about how you will travel to the airport. Although hopping in your car seems like the easy option, you will then need to think about parking, with many options situated a couple of miles away from the terminal, which can cause difficulty for those who use a stair lift at home.

Bus companies such as Megabus and National Express offer cheap transport to major airports across the country. Not only is using a bus better for the environment, but they come with a host of other benefits. However, this also means that you avoid paying for airport parking, some of which is situated miles away from your terminal.

If you’re considering travelling by bus, contacting the provider ahead of time to alert them to any potential accessibility problems is your best option, as it means that you can have a comfortable journey. Most coach services have disabled seating at the front of the vehicle, as well as discounted travel for older people.

If you’d feel happy travelling to the airport in your own car, you will need to find the best airport parking for you. Although there are many options which can be found online, the cheaper solutions mean that you may have to hop onboard a park-and-ride bus to the terminal, something which can add extra time to your journey. Book directly through the airport’s website for their official car parks if you’re worried about carrying your bags for long distances. Alternatively, find a friend or family member who can drop you off at the terminal doors, helping you to get your bags out of the car and wish you au revoir!

Medical issues

One of the most important things to take into consideration before travelling is your health and wellbeing. Medical insurance should be one of the first things that you arrange after booking your trip and if you’ve recently been unwell, this is particularly important.

If you’re in general good health, you can purchase travel insurance online for a low price. However, you will need to disclose any medical conditions that you already have to ensure that you have the right cover. Age can have an impact on your travel insurance, so purchasing through a reputable source is best.

If you have any medical conditions or are concerned about flying due to ill health, it is best to check with a doctor beforehand. A quick talk with your GP can put your mind at rest and, if you require a fit to fly note from your doctor, this can be arranged during your appointment.

Assistance in the airport

Assistance is on offer in all of the airports across the UK and can have a positive impact on your overall experience. This special assistance is free of charge, although you should contact the airport ahead of time to arrange the level of help required. For those with low mobility, a physical disability or perhaps those in older age who aren’t as confident navigating their way through the airport, you can be assisted when boarding and disembarking the plane, with your transfer and throughout the airport.

Carrie recommends contacting the airport ahead of flying to make the most of their accessibility aid: “At least 48 hours before your flight, request any special assistance you will require. This could be helped through check-in, security and into departures, at the gate, on to the plane and into your seat. Airports are big, busy places and even if you can usually manage without help, it’s worth considering how you’ll manage luggage, crowds and queues.

“If you can’t use stairs, and your chosen airport doesn’t use air bridges, you’ll need to request an ambulift to get you on to the plane. This is a small vehicle which drives up to the plane and raises like a platform lift, giving level access to the plane door.

“You can also request that suitable seating is allocated and that any equipment to help you transfer is available; some airports use slings, and others have hoists which are specially designed for aircraft. If you need to use a wheelchair to get to and from your seat, an aisle chair should be made available for you, which is narrow enough to fit between rows of seats on the plane.”

If you are considering using the airport assistance helpers, you will need to inform them if you plan to bring a wheelchair on board, especially if this is motorised. An assistance desk will be located in the terminal after you’ve made your way through security, where you can inform the staff of your arrival.

This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only.