Ever-Tightening Security Creates Misery for Senior Fliers

"None of our data indicates a hesitancy to fly or to encounter problems with TSA," said association spokesperson Cathy Keefe. "I would expect that infrequent senior leisure travelers might find the air process daunting, but any infrequent traveler (not just seniors) is likely to encounter the same issues."

According to a 2009 AARP report, 29 percent of its members aged 50-75 said that "travel the world" is a life goal, a 21-point drop from 2005.

Travelers cited the economy, but tightened security has also taken a toll on senior travel.

"Flying ceased to be fun a long time ago," said Diane Duyos Vacca, a New York City blogger who is approaching 70. "But this is ridiculous."

"Why can't we be proactive instead of always reacting to the latest scare?" she said of the new rules. "Are they going to snatch blankets away from sleeping passengers? Are they going to keep me from working with my computer, fixing my face before landing, reading my Kindle, knitting my latest project?"

Hampton, N.H., dog walker and former tennis pro Kathy Varone said security checks "are a joke."

"At 58 I think I can still manage," she told ABCNews.com. "I would hope that the security is already doubled checked before getting on the plane. "Once we are on the plane,what's the point of all the rules, it's too late."

But Kenneth Budd, executive editor of AARP, the magazine, said seniors are dissuaded by bigger issues than security.

"You are looking at the most cramped aisle ways and getting in and out of seats," he told ABCNews.com. "You have to put your luggage overhead in the bin. If you have knee problems or arthritis or back problems the planes are not designed for anyone over a certain age."

Many seniors also complain of the difficulty of getting wheelchair service, according to Budd. "They make a request and it's not there or someone else has taken it."

Bob Fischman, a New York City insurance broker, used to travel the world, flying to his vacation home in Florida once a month. But now, at 72, he makes only two trips a year.

Airliners Not Built For Seniors

"The security lines are impossible and if you're traveling outside the country, you have to be there at least three hours in advance," he told ABCNews.com.

"It's a hassle to take off your shoes. I saw a man much older than I standing there without his shoes with his arms spread out and they are doing a wand on him. It's absurd to put a senior through this."

He has been stopped by security officials for carrying a blood pressure machine in his travel bag. "All of a sudden there was this conference," he said. "Things like that are so disturbing."

Fischman, who has a heart condition and is on blood-thinning medication, must move around the cabin to prevent blood clots.

"It's a hassle getting up and down the aisle," said Fischman, who also has a back condition. "The planes are packed and if you need to use the restroom, forget about it. I have the old prostate issue and by the time I get to the restroom they are a mess. I just don't find any enjoyment when flying. It's a cattle car."

"I remember travel used to be an exciting thing that you'd look forward to the plane was comfortable and I even relished the food. When you were traveling out of the country, even economy, you got a menu with three different styles of food."

"Now, you've got your knees in your mouth and you can't move and there's no breathing room," he said. "The service is negligible, if at all."

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