My number one tip for chronic travelers about changing planes: take your time. I can hear my mom screeching in horror even as I type this, but I’m serious. Plan for and then take all the time you need and probably more than you want. Expect to walk or to be rolled for miles, to ride trams, and to endure waits for wheelchair attendants. Bring a (lightweight) book. And make it a layover rather than a transfer if necessary.
If I’ve got to change planes, I try to plan at least 2 hours at the change airport if it’s a midsized airport. For a big airport, I make it 3 hours. Or more. Those fabulous deals that pop up on Orbitz and Travelocity that include 45-minute connections? Forget ’em. Scroll down to find flights with longer connection times.
If sitting for extended periods doesn’t bother you too much, but you can’t walk fast or push through crowds, try for a direct flight to your destination. If you can’t find one, create a long connection time.
If you can walk reasonably well, but sitting in one position is hard, build yourself short-hop flights and longish connection times. I have trouble convincing “discount” travel sites to let me do this, so I do it myself by using airline web sites. Professional travel agents probably do this very well; sadly I don’t have any to recommend yet.
Multi-connection flights tire me out horribly. So I plan to accommodate myself. Often, if I’ve got to make two or three connections to get someplace, I’ll make one of those connections into a layover.
A layover doesn’t have to be a dreadful inconvenience. In fact, I’ve used Liz-needs-to-rest layovers as opportunities to visit seldom-seen friends or check out must-see attractions. Layovers can be awesome!
Speak up for yourself whenever it will give you an advantage. At the gate in the first airport, ask the attendant to call to the next airport to try to make sure that a wheelchair is waiting for you in the jetway or at the next gate. If that doesn’t happen, a flight attendant on the plane might be able to help you.