Over 65? Don't Forget to Do This After Boarding, Flight Attendant Warns
Skipping this important step could create problems for older passengers.
The stress of getting to the airport on time, checking in, and making it through security before it's time for your flight can easily overwhelm even the most prepared travelers. And with last-minute cancellations and delays being so common these days, you probably won't be able to breathe a sigh of relief until you're sitting in your seat. But for some travelers, your worries might not stop here. According to flight experts, passengers over the age of 65 tend to forget to do one thing after boarding that could create problems for them down the line. Read on to find out what experts are warning older adults to remember once they get on the plane.
Passengers often forget to take important items out of bags that need to be checked after boarding.
Most major airlines allow passengers to bring at least one carry-on bag with them as they board their flight, but depending on the size of the plane and its capacity, some passengers might end up having to check this bag at the gate due to a lack of available space. Miguel Muñoz, a flight attendant and cabin chief who has been flying the skies for over 10 years, recently told The Daily Express that passengers—especially those over the age of 65—often have trouble remembering to take important items out when they're asked to hand off their luggage last minute.
"We always tell them if they have important documents, passport, medication, or lithium batteries, to take them out and keep these with them in the cabin," he said. "People always say, 'No, no I don't have any of these in my luggage' but it happened many times when we land, those people come back to you saying, 'Oh yeah my passport was actually in my other bag.'"
Don't forget to take your prescription medications out of your bag.
According to Muñoz, many older passengers tend to forget to take one of the most important items out of their bag when it needs to be checked after boarding: prescription medication. "People over 65 need to take their medication out of their carry-on luggage if they need it checked," says Deanna Castro, a flight attendant with 16 years of experience and the creator of FutureFlightAttendant.com.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), people 65 years and older are more likely to be taking prescription medicines than their younger counterparts and also more likely to be taking multiple prescription meds. The organization reported that 89 percent of adults this age are currently taking at least one, while 54 percent are taking four or more prescription drugs.
"I normally work as the purser (the head flight attendant), so when I am greeting passengers and they gate check their bags I remind them to get their medication and anything else important to them out of their carry on luggage," Castro adds.
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Any luggage that is checked has the potential to be delayed or go missing.
Many older adults might need to take these medications while on their flight (and be advised that "you can ask for a glass of water if you need to take medication, don't be afraid," Muñoz noted). But keeping these meds on hand is also an important thing to do just in case anything goes awry with your checked luggage.
"It doesn't happen all the time, but bags can get lost, flights can divert due to weather, emergencies, or security incidents, and once your bag is checked, you can't get it back until you pick it up in baggage claim," Castro explains.
And if your bag goes missing completely, Muñoz warned that one of the biggest problems is that "many elderly travelers carry medication that they can't buy in their destination without a prescription," he said. According to data from luggage storage company LuggageHero, the chance of an airline losing your suitcase is about one in every 250 bags.
This is not the only item you might need to remember to take out.
While prescription medication may be the most important thing to remember to grab, there are other items flight attendants recommend you take out, too. According to Castro, people over the age of 65 tend to get more cold on airplanes, so they'll want to remember to take out any jackets or blankets from their bag after boarding.
"It's important to keep the airplane cool so people don't get airsick. We don't often have extra blankets, so bring a sweater, a hat, and a blanket on board just in case," she recommends.
And no matter what age you are, always remember to take your keys out of any bag being checked, warns Sandy Stein, a former flight attendant of nearly 35 years and founder of Finders Key Purse. "I can't tell you how many people have put their keys in their carry-on bags, and then if the bag doesn't show up or ends up on a later flight (that does happen) they have no way to get home," she explains.