Gideon Thaler, founder and CEO of TAL Aviation in Tel Aviv, which operates as an airline handling and marketing company around the world. Close to 80 years old, and actively involved in the aviation industry with over 60 years of experience, he is giving his feedback as an elderly passenger on today’s airlines, traveling through today’s airports.
He said there is less fear of flying but more fear of airports:
Gideon Thaler: I used to fear flying since the days of Caravelle, Constellation, and Dakota aircraft.
I needed a tranquilizer before boarding the plane to relax because of the exceptional noise and feeling every bump, air pocket, and turbulence.
Over the years, I got used to flying, stopped taking the pills, and started to enjoy flying on modern aircraft with all the amenities, movies, and music that came with the flights.
Another phobia has developed over the last few years:
Fear of Airports!
This is especially true at international airports. It is true for elderly people like myself. Airlines expect me to check in three hours before my flight, adding to the hours it takes to get to the airport.
Unless you are a premium member, check in lines are often crowded, forcing you to stand for a long time pushing your suitcases to the check in counter, inch by inch.
After you made it, checked in, and received your baggage tag and boarding pass, you walked more long hallways to get to a security line with hundreds of people waiting in front of you. In addition, you are concerned about more delays, all of which add to the anxiety.
Online check-in can be a challenge for elderly travelers, and sometimes it can be pretty annoying or even impossible. Some airlines are starting to penalize passengers for not checking in online.
I am not ashamed to admit it: I always preferred communicating with a human instead of using an often confusing check-in machine.
Once you clear security, get ready for more obstacles: Long walks to the departure gate and the fear of missing your flight or walking to the wrong gate.
Once arriving at the gate, and if lucky enough to find an open seat in the waiting area, you wait more, and stand in more lines, once the gate opens and the boarding starts .
While many of the younger people in the waiting area are distracted with their cell phones, I prefer my newspaper.
There is no doubt that international air-traffic has expanded dramatically. However, my concern is that the airports have not adjusted for increased traffic and may not be capable of accommodating this growing trend for travel.
If something doesn’t go as planned, resources seem to be in short supply in a short time.
Where are the young innovators who should come up with a way to enhance the airport experience?
I am still physically and mentally active; however, these are some of my concerns. I am sure I can speak on behalf of many seniors.
It has come to a point where I am wondering. Should I travel or stay home and do the needful things over a Zoom call?
The younger generation controls newer innovations, but older people who require assistance and ride in a cart to the gate already often receive more attention but are the last people included in such new inventions.