On May 7th Flying Angels had the honor of accompanying Sandi Greenawalt RN CCM, Director of Case Management, Jackson Hospital, Montgomery, AL home to Sewickley. You would not believe the sendoff the hospital gave sandy.
Under provisions of the federal Air Carrier Access Act, airlines must offer air travel assistance for seniors that includes assistance in boarding, deplaning and making connections to their next flight. It also includes some assistance during the flight, but for personal services, seniors need someone along with them on the flight such as family or a flight nurse.
Flight assistance for the elderly helps make air travel safe for seniors. While it takes a flight nurse to handle personal issues such as medication during a flight, air travel assistance for seniors offered by airlines and airports makes it much more comfortable for seniors to travel.
Examples of Travel Assistance for Seniors
Airlines and airports offer many forms of travel assistance that make air travel for seniors much easier to manage. They include:
Wheelchairs. Those with difficulty walking long distances require a wheelchair to navigate large airport terminals. As part of flight assistance for the elderly, airports offer wheelchair service from drop off to the gate.
Special screening procedures. If you are older than 75, the federal Transportation Safety Agency will make special accommodations for you when it comes to going through security. However, you may experience some delay if you have a wearable medical device or medical equipment, which must get checked separately.
Best seats. Seniors usually like to sit near the front of an airplane, where it’s easier to access the bathroom. That also shortens the trip while boarding and deplaning. Many may want seats with extra legroom, as well as the chance for early boarding that allows them to get settled on the plane before everyone else starts boarding. While it’s not always possible to get these seats, always ask when buying tickets.
Food service. If it’s a long flight, airlines may offer specialty meals that meet dietary restrictions for senior passengers.
Senior discounts. This is another issue to ask about, although senior discounts are harder to find these days.
In order to request special assistance such as a wheelchair, call the airport at least 48 hours before your flight. Most airports have staff dedicated to providing travel assistance to seniors. They will mark your itinerary with “special assistance requested,” allowing staff to prepare for your arrival.
Personal Flight Assistance For the Elderly
While all these services offer advantages, there are some things that airports and airlines will not do. The biggest issue is with extensive personal assistance during the flight itself. While staff will give senior travelers as much assistance as they can, they are not required to focus only on an elderly passenger and must meet the needs of a plane full of people.
This extends to such issues as managing your medication during the trip and handling any in-flight medical needs.
The solution is to have a family member or close friend fly with you. If that’s not possible, a flight nurse working with a medical transport service that specializes in traveling with elderly passengers can help. They will manage medications and handle any medical issues that might arise during the trip. A Flight Coordinator handles booking travel and making all the arrangements for the trip including at the airport for flight assistance for the elderly. By offering travel assistance for seniors, airlines and airports make it much easier for the elderly to travel safely and in as much comfort as possible. The key is to contact both the airport and airline in advance to secure the special assistance you need.
After undergoing surgery, some find they must take a flight not long after. For those who want to fly commercial after surgery, it is important to ensure enough time has passed and that you have regained some mobility, taken steps to prevent blood clots and practice good hygiene throughout the trip.
In many cases, you may simply have to wait. Doctors will insist that patients do not fly for a set amount of time after surgery. And there is nothing you will read here or anywhere else that supersedes the advice given to you directly by your doctor. It is important that you consult with your doctor about how to fly commercial before and after surgery.
That said, there are some tips to keep in mind that can make flying commercial after surgery safer and easier.
Ensure Enough Time Has Passed
Make sure enough time has passed since your surgery. Different procedures have different time windows before it is safe to fly and having someone who is knowledgeable & trained in aviation physiology is critical. Make sure you stay within whatever time parameters they set.
A general guide to how long you should wait after surgery before flying includes the following time frames.
- Simple cataract or corneal laser surgery – one day
- A Colonoscopy – one day
- Simple abdominal surgery – four to five days
- Complicated eye surgery – a week
- Chest surgery or a coronary artery bypass graft – 10 days
- Complicated abdominal surgery – 10 days
Mobility Is Important
You want to fly commercial after surgery when you have reached a point where you are relatively mobile. That is important because movement can prevent the formation of blood clots. When someone is immobile during a long flight, it prevents the contraction of muscles in the legs that allows blood to circulate back to the heart. When you cannot move, blood pools in the legs and the risk of clotting increases.
This is something to do only if told so by your doctor. Taking aspirin can help prevent the formation of blood clots during a flight. It is possible the doctor may prescribe a more powerful anticoagulant, but those should be taken only under a doctor’s orders.
Avoid Turbulence, Nausea
Although it is certainly no guarantee, morning flights tend to have smoother air to fly through than flights later in the day. So, if you can, book an early flight to reduce the odds of nausea-inducing turbulence that you might feel more susceptible to post-operation. Also, a seat on the plane over or near the wing can be smoother – you give up a view for less turbulence.
Practice Good Hygiene
A lot of people have wondered if flying commercial will ever be the same after the coronavirus. The ideas that everyone has adopted during the COVID-19 epidemic – washing hands, using hand sanitizers on the plane, taking on disinfectant wipes to clear often-touched places in the seat area – are good habits for those who choose to fly commercial after surgery. Post-surgery fliers may be more susceptible to infections, so it is important to practice these good habits.
Keep these tips in mind but remember that your doctor is the final authority on when you can fly commercial before and after surgery. The last thing you want to do is become ill again or risk an infection so soon after getting a surgery to correct a health issue.
Given time, people will return to flying commercial, although travelers should expect to follow new rules that will keep them safe while flying. As experts learn more about COVID 19, they continue to develop ways to travel after coronavirus, including following CDC guidelines and maintaining smart practices while in the airport and on the plane.
Medical air travel is essential but can cause families to second guess their need to schedule non-emergency medical transportation during national emergencies. If you or a loved one have preexisting conditions and family doesn’t live close, it’s a good idea to discuss medical air travel with Flying Angels. Understanding your air ambulance alternatives can save you time and money during an already hectic time.
It’s likely that travel after coronavirus will change, but those changes are for the good. Expect official agencies to release guidelines for flying commercial as more people resume air travel in the coming months.
Before Your Flight and At the Airport
Until official guidance comes from government agencies, you can expect some of the following recommendations to help you avoid the spread of infectious viruses, including coronavirus and the flu.
Bring hand sanitizer. Have a bottle of hand sanitizer and use it after you touch anything during the duration of your trip. That includes before you get to the airport, such as touching surfaces in an Uber ride.
Check in for flight online. Use your smartphone to check into your flight. This way, you do not have to touch the screen at the airport that prints out your boarding pass. If you do use the machine, use hand sanitizer immediately afterward.
Eat before you go. There are likely to be restrictions, at least for a while, on how many people can eat in restaurants (at airports or anywhere else). Best to eat before you leave and have one less thing to worry about.
Wash your hands. It’s not a bad idea to stop often and wash your hands. As experts have frequently noted, if it feels like “overkill,” you are probably doing about the right amount of prevention.
Keep your distance. As you move through the airport, try to maintain plenty of distance and not crowd other passengers.
During the Flight
For those flying commercial on domestic flights, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers helpful guidelines to follow that apply to being in any public place. Many of them are common sense tips that people around the world have followed to slow spread of the disease. They include:
- Clean your hands with warm water and soap, or hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol. This is especially important after you have been in a public place such as a plane. Always avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. This may not always be necessary, but expect to wear a mask for flights (and other public places) at least in the near-term. It protects yourself and others from spreading the coronavirus.
- Wipe down your seat arms and any other areas you expect to touch during the flight as soon as you sit down.
- Cover any coughs and sneezes – do them into your elbow if you can. Use hand sanitizer immediately afterward.
Keep in mind that airlines also will continue with safety measures they adopted earlier this year, including wiping down all surfaces touched by passengers with disinfectant after each flight. Also, they continue to perform routine deep cleanings. There is a possibility that they will institute health checks, as well, such as taking the temperature of travelers before they enter a plane.
If you are traveling internationally, make sure to check to see if there are any travel advisories from the federal government. Putting these tips into practice can make flying commercial safe – although expect official recommendations to come out for travel after coronavirus once government leaders again open the country and more people return to flying on a regular basis.
For those who need to fly with medications, going through airport security can seem like an intimidating procedure. It’s important to know what you can and cannot do so that your airport security experience is as pleasant as possible.
That requires information. The below rules apply to anyone with needs to fly with medication or with medical devices. But keep in mind that if you need assistance at the airport because of a disability or condition, call ahead. Airports can arrange specialized service for those who have such conditions, as well as those who need to fly with oxygen or other medical devices.
To understand what you can do when you fly with medication, you must know the difference between liquid medications and all other types of medications.
You can carry your medication in pill and solid form in unlimited amounts in your carry-on bag. You can also carry medical accessories such as freezer packs, IV bags, pumps and syringes. To get through the screening process more smoothly, clearly label any of the above items in your carry-on bag.
However, there are rules around carrying medication in liquid form onto the plane.
It’s permissible to carry liquid medication that weighs more than 3.4 ounces and contains a reasonable amount of medication for the flight. However, you must inform the TSA officer you are carrying medically necessary liquids before you start the screening process. They may ask you to open the container and subject it to further screenings.
The Basic Screening Procedure
Make sure to arrive early at the airport the day of your flight to allow for the time needed for security screenings.
According to TSA Cares, you should Inform the officer of your disability or show them your disability notification card at the checkpoint before your screening begins. Let them know if you are carrying any medication that cannot be screened by X-rays.
Like all passengers, you will be screened by advanced imaging technology or by passing through a metal detector. If you cannot go through these detectors, a TSA officer will perform a “pat down” screening. You may also go through this as part of additional screening measures, or to resolve any issues if you or your belongings set off an alarm.
Special Medical Devices
Some people need to fly with oxygen or other medical devices. In some cases, additional screening may prove necessary for some devices.
For example, if you wear a medical device attached to your body, inform the TSA officer before they begin the pat down. If the device can be screened by X-ray and you can safely disconnect it, then it will be run through an X-ray scanner. If that is not the case, TSA agents may use additional screening methods on the device while it is attached to you.
Prosthesis and mastectomy bras are both considered necessary medical devices. You can wear them during the screening process. TSA officers will not ask you to remove them or reveal them.
At any time during the screening process, you can ask to speak to a supervisor if you are uncomfortable. You may also request a private screening.
The TSA also has a number for those with medical conditions and disabilities to call if they have any questions. That number is 1-855-787-2227. Also, these rules apply to checked in bags. But it’s advisable to put medications in carry-on bags, in case you need access to them immediately. Also, while TSA does not require placing medications in prescription bottles, some states have laws on this issue. Check for these laws in the states where you will travel.
We all want to avoid layovers, which are typically uncomfortable and annoying experiences. But not at those with the best airport attractions. For reasons explained below, some of the best airports for layovers provide a good experience, including airports in Tampa, Munich, Amsterdam, Atlanta, Vancouver, Dubai, Las Vegas and across Florida.
In some cases, these airports just provide well thought-out and pleasant amenities. In others, you can gamble, look at art and even see a jellyfish.
So, if you book a trip that requires a layover, don’t fret. Just try to make it in one of the airports listed below.
Tampa International Airport
Tampa International Airport ranks in the top tier of best airports for layovers because of its design, amenities and overall cleanliness and order. One of the busiest airports for business people and tourists from around the world, TIA has a convenient spoke-and-wheel design for its terminals, 24-hour food choices, free WiFi and the option of pay-for-use lounges. Friendly staff, too.
Munich International Airport
Germans are known for creating orderly and clean transportation, and the Munich International Airport provides a stellar example of that approach. A major hub for people flying into Europe, the airport provides nap cabins, free tea and coffee stalls, and a Bavarian brewery. It even has a mini golf course and an ice rink.
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta ranks as the busiest airport in the world. If you have time to kill waiting for your next flight, you can get great exercise by walking the miles of tunnels that connect all the terminals. The airport also has more than 200 restaurants and retailers and live music in the food court.
Vancouver International Airport
If you have a layover in Vancouver International Airport, then you must check out the permanent exhibit run by the Vancouver Aquarium in the international terminal. This 114,000-liter aquarium has more than 5,000 animals, including wolf eels, Red Irish Lord fish, giant plumose anemone, and an armored sea cucumber. It’s easy to see how this one ranks among the best airports for layovers – what other airport has an armored sea cucumber?
Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport in the United Arab Emirates is one of the best airports for a layover for the same reason so much in the UAE makes other “best of” lists: A lot of money has been spent building it. This airport has an in-airport hotel health spa, fantastic jewelry stores and beautiful design. If you have time to leave the airport, there are dune buggy and camel rides not far away.
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
There is truly no other airport like Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. This airport is the only one in the world that has an art museum attached. The Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Schiphol features paintings from Van Gogh and other masters. If art isn’t your thing, you can also go to the Holland Casino between gates E and F in departure Hall 2. Talk about your extremes in entertainment options!
Speaking of gambling, you can certainly do that in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport. The Las Vegas airport made a recent list of U.S. airports with the highest level of customer satisfaction, making it among the best airports for layovers.
Florida, another place with many tourists and visitors, also placed many airports on the list, including Orlando International Airport, Jacksonville International Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla., and Palm Beach International Airport.
Other U.S. airports on the list included:
- Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport/World
- Portland (Ore.) International Airport
- Dallas Love Field
- Indianapolis International Airport
These best airports for layovers can turn a long trip into something that is at least pleasant and sometimes memorable. Keep them in mind when you need to book a trip and it requires more than one flight and a long layover.