Updated: Nov 30, 2019
If you are sending an elderly relative or someone that needs wheelchair or any type of assistance to travel, here are a few things to consider;
It is best to go early in the morning, less delays.
Non-stop is much better.
If one needs assistance, make sure the airline is advised.
Ask for a gate pass on the initial flight and stay with them until the flight takes off.
If they have their own wheelchair, battery powered or manual, it is best to check it to the final destination. If you must have it at the connection, give yourself ample time in the connecting city. A wheelchair can be brought to the gate but it takes time for employees to bring it up the jetbridge and back down on the next flight. It is quicker and easier to use the airport wheelchairs if possible.
If the traveler is unable to walk to their airplane seat, the airlines will take the traveler to their seat in an aisle wheelchair. Please communicate this clearly to the airline you are traveling with. Extra employees may be needed to assist. Airlines like to get these travelers on first before boarding the flight to get them settled. Its a good idea to have them visit the bathroom facilities prior to boarding.
Communication is the key.
I have seen many an elderly person sitting at a gate not understanding where they were or what was going on. Airports can be very confusing and busy. Gate agents go from gate to gate. Airline employs may not notice someone waiting in the gate area.
It is wise to have a cell phone with them with phone numbers of people that know they are traveling. It would be good to have the airline phone number as well. And make sure they know how to turn on and off (put in airplane mode.) Turn off the lock so someone can assist them if the airline needs to contact someone.
Put name tags on all items they are taking with them (cell phones, luggage, wheelchairs). Keep important medicine with them.
Just because a wheelchair was order does not mean someone will be with them at all times. The traveler must be able to communicate their needs and be aware of flight times and gate changes. A wheelchair aid is just a courtesy from an outside vendor hired by the airlines to assist. Some are more helpful than others.
They do work for tips. They will take you to the next destination gate departure and leave you. If your flight is not for several hours, the gate could change and the traveler may miss a flight if they are not paying attention.
Please do not send someone alone that is unable to ask or get assistance.
Enjoy the Journey. IFR