Best airline for elderly

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by arshavin, Oct 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    My mother in law is planning to visit us here in USA and I need to buy tickets for her. While my mother in law is confident lady, she does not speak English and have never flown internationally either. I have checked couple of airlines but nobody has given firm answer regarding if someone could help her navigate entry process while speaking our native language. Do airlines provide such assistance or is it just luck based?
     
  2. rggale
    Original Member

    rggale Gold Member

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    The best suggestion I have is to (hopefully) have your mother in law fly to the US on a US flag carrier, so that for the long overwater segment, there will be attendants that speak her language and once she arrives at the connecting airport (assuming you don't live in a gateway city that connects directly to her home city/country) she will unfortunately unless extremely lucky find it not probable that someone speaks her language unless it is English or Spanish.
     
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  3. MSYgirl

    MSYgirl Gold Member

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    I would suggest getting a translated version of the US customs form in her native language before she departs so she understands what she needs to enter. If she is disabled, keep in mind that airports typically provide assistance and wheelchair service, not the airlines. If anything, I'd prepare her a list of translations in her language and in English, and perhaps a paragraph to print out and take with her explaining she does not speak English and any concerns she may have. At least if she has this on hand, she can hand it to anyone during her journey in her native language and with an English version so people can help her more easily.
     
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  4. GenevaFlyer
    Original Member

    GenevaFlyer Milepoint Guide

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    Hi,

    Also note, the typical US immigration facility has translators for many of the more common languages. Chances are someone will be available to help translate if required.

    Cheers,

    GenevaFlyer
     
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  5. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    What is your native language?
     
  6. LUFCG

    LUFCG Silver Member

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    I don't know what the airlines provide, but if you don't have luck with them you can find a copy of the forms she'll need online ie customs in her native language. Download them ahead of time, print them out and help her fill them out so they are ready to go.

    Remind her not to pack any snails or fruit, meat, sharp objects etc. that will cause her to get stuck in customs.

    Make flashcards for her to take with her, with simple phrases on one side in English, the other side her native language. Such as, "Sorry, I only speak xxx", "I have nothing to declare", "where is the restroom" etc. Teach her "yes" and "no" so if the customs agent points to her flashcard that says, "have your bags been out of your control?" she can answer in English or know to bob her head the correct way, since some countries do opposite of the US.

    Have her take a picture of her luggage. If it is lost she will have an easier time if she has pictures to show.

    When everyone gets off the plane it'll be like sheep so she just has to follow the crowd. Once she gets to the main customs area she can hold up the "I am a visitor to the US with a Visa and don't speak English, please show me to the right line" flashcard to someone at the start of an entry line and they will direct her to the right place.

    Remind her that as a visitor she will have to have a digital picture taken. In fact, the more info you give her about the process the better. Step by step, go over everything in detail that she will typically encounter to make her trip less stressful.

    At the end of her trip, hopefully you will be able to meet her as soon as she comes through the doors and you can celebrate her success.
     
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  7. GenevaFlyer
    Original Member

    GenevaFlyer Milepoint Guide

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    One addition:

    Make sure she has a note with your cellphone number and name on her. That way, if there is any issue, she can ask for Immigration to call you. Maybe have the note have some additional text like: "For any additional concerns or information, please call my son-in-law (or daughter) at xxx-xxx-xxxx"

    Cheers,

    GenevaFlyer
     
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  8. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    Thank you all for some very helpful suggestions. I will check out the customs forms in native language. I did not know of this. She will be traveling by herself, so want to make sure she is well prepared for the trip.
     
  9. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    I donot trust the wheelchair assistance even though I would be requesting one. When my parents were traveling last here to visit us, it was hit and miss. Fortunately my father spoke english, so they were able to manage. It was especially troublesome because the flight traveling to Boston was diverted enroute to London. He vowed not to travel AA because of lack of any support in London.
     
  10. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    If she has a smart phone, there are also translation apps she could use. My Mom-in Law only speaks Romanian, but we taught her how to use the electronic translator.
     
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