airport travel

On the travel road again after hip replacement; clearing security at Oakland International Airport

This is the fourth article in a 4-part series that will help you deal with total hip replacement (THR) and travel.

Part 1: Denial to acceptance. Preparing for joint replacement surgery.

Part 2: Preparing for surgery

Part 3: Recovery and travel

Part 4: On the travel road again

Fear of flying? Not me. I’m a travel writer. Flying across the country is in my job description. However, this particular flight – I had many fears. Would my new hip set off the alarm if I used a walk-through metal detector as opposed to being screened by the Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) at airport security? Would I be able to carry my laptop, carry-on luggage and walk with a cane at the airport? How would I manage the stairs ascending and descending the airplane? Could I remain seated for several hours while traveling on the airplane without straightening my hip? What would it be like traveling after hip replacement surgery?

Travel with trepidation

We’ve all heard the horror stories of wheel chair-bound travelers being pat-down at security or passengers having to hobble through the back skatter machine without the assistance of a cane. I confess that at seven weeks post anterior hip replacement surgery, I had trepidation about my upcoming travel. To make travel easier for me, my first flight with my new hip was non-stop from Oakland International Airport in Northern California to Mazatlan, Mexico.

TSA Cares program

In response to customer demand the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) introduced TSA Cares program in December of 2011, a toll free helpline for travelers with disabilities and medical needs. Any traveler with special needs, family members of travelers or travel companions, may call the TSA cares number (855) 787-2227 and speak with a team member about travel concerns or notify TSA to request travel assistance at a particular airport – (call approximately 72 hours ahead of travel.)

walking on the beach in Mexico

Traveling with a cane after hip replacement

What to pack after joint replacement surgery

Whether you prefer carry-on luggage or to check your bags is your decision, but do give your travel style some consideration pre-flight. Will you be traveling solo, or will someone be with you to help with your luggage?

While I was not looking forward to traveling with a cane, it turned out to be a blessing more than a curse. Without saying a word, the cane demonstrates that you need special care – not always a bad thing during travel.

From airport agents at the ticket counter to flight crew and fellow passengers, I received a positive response traveling with a cane. A special hat tip goes to Cal Jet Air  and Xtra Airways for all around first class service. While I did request an aisle seat flying from Oakland International Airport to Mazatlan, Mexico, never did I reveal that I was a travel writer in need of special treatment.

Cal Jet Air & Xtra Airways go the extra mile

Not only did I receive an aisle seat (to stretch my leg) flying from Oakland, California to Mazatlan, Mexico, I was upgraded to a first-class aisle seat on my return flight from Mazatlan to Oakland. I also had assistance with my luggage clearing security in Mexico. However, Xtra Airways Chief Pilot Brian Felter went above and beyond the call of duty when he placed my luggage in the overhead bin and carried my bag down the stairs from the airplane upon arrival in Mexico.

Inflight travel tips

"Men's Signature Series Derby Cane"Visit TSA Cares website

Allow extra time to clear airport security

Travel with a cane alerts fellow passengers to be careful with you

Request airline check-in pre-boarding

Request an aisle seat for easy standing access in the airplane

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Remember a smile goes a long way when you are a slow traveler

What are your travel tips after hip or joint replacement?

Related Posts:

What to expect before hip replacement surgery

Things to See and Do in Mazatlan, Mexico

Top photo and article courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown. Beach walker photo courtesy of Tiffany Day.