I have a bad back. How can I avoid lineups at the airport?

Special to The Globe and Mail

Another frustrating airport lineup. (JOSHUA LOTT/REUTERS)

Q: I've got a very bad back. About the maximum I can stand in line at the bank or the market is about 10 minutes. When I see the long lines at the airport -- for tickets, for passports, for luggage, for boarding -- I'm sure I couldn't stand that long. Can you suggest a solution?

It seems even with all the advances in technology - checking in with your BlackBerry, picking your own in-flight movie - the computer gods haven't been able to make real-world airport lineups disappear.

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In your situation, the best thing is to simply to ask for help.

When you're booking your ticket, you can request a "walk-on" wheelchair, says Richard Bartrem, vice-president of communications for WestJet. "As soon as the guest arrives at the airport, we can have a wheelchair ready to get them to the gate."

And before you leave home, checking in online, of course, tends to speed things up, as does using the self-serve bag-tagging kiosks available at many airports. If you haven't booked a wheelchair, you can also request a "folkswagon" (so that's what those airport golf carts are called) to transport you to the gate. "This can be requested as you check-in," says Bartrem, who notes that you can also ask for pre-boarding to again avoid the queue.

E-mail your travel questions to concierge@globeandmail.com.

Karan Smith is a former Globe Travel editor. Special to The Globe and Mail

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