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The major U.S. airlines are struggling to stay afloat; personnel, routes and frequencies are still being cut. At the same time, the "budget" carriers are expanding and multiplying. Although they do not offer any senior discounts, we've included these new no-frill airlines because their rates are so reasonable.

With many one-way fares under $100, it is wise to compare their costs vs. the majors if they fly anywhere near where you are going. Book air travel early, before the lower-price seats are gone, and always ask if any special senior fares are available.

Rates listed here typically do not include airport taxes and fees. SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE.



As of December, 2007, only two airlines actively promote senior fares:

Southwest Airlines – Offers discounts to passengers 65+ that vary from city to city. Senior Fare tickets are fully refundable and changeable. The airline promises that long haul fares for travelers 65+ will not rise above $129. Fares are subject to change until ticketed. Southwest's popular Friends Fly Free program, once frequent and well-promoted, is almost dormant.

This year it has been activated only once, for an Orlando promotion. 800/435-9792. Keep an eye on Southwest's website for best available fares: www.southwest.com

United Air Lines –Offers senior discounts off published fares to travelers 65+ in some limited markets. Lower, Internet-only fares may be found on the website www.united.com but they must be booked and paid for on the Internet. Call 800/241-6522. SilverPack Coupons for fliers 62+ are no longer available.

Silver Wings Plus Travel Club for travelers 55+ costs $75 for two years, $225 for lifetime membership. Members receive a bimonthly club newsletter and a constant flow of promotions, travel packages, hotel and cruise deals, and rental-car discounts. Members are eligible to buy USA Collection Privilege Certificates, four in a pack for only $25, which then provide domestic zone-based discount fares.

The International Zone Certificates offer a similar deal in three zones: Pacific, Europe and Latin America. Some blackout days apply. To join Silver Wings, call the special United number: 800/720-1765. Fare updates and membership benefits are posted on the club website: www.silverwingsplus.com

The following airlines have given discounts within the last two years, according to Mature Travel...

(Just don’t count on it!)

Air Canada – Gives 10% discounts off published rates to fliers 60+ and a companion of any age on cross-Canada (except seat sale fares) and international routes including Mexico, South America, Caribbean and the U.K. No discount coupons. 888/247-2262. Check website for fares lower than senior discount: www.aircanada.ca

Alaska Airlines – Senior Published Fares provide 10% discounts to passengers 62+ and a companion of any age on most routes. Special senior promotional fares are frequently posted for passengers 65+ on varying routes. These do not cover a companion, are non-refundable, but may be changed for a $50 fee. Call 800/426-0333. Website: www.alaskaair.com.

Alaska Airlines is expanding rapidly, adding more cross-country service to East Coast cities during 2002. Non-stops to and from Seattle now include Boston, Newark, Washington, DC (Reagan National and Dulles), Miami and Orlando. Starting July 10, 2003, are flying LAX-Guadalajara.

The carrier also offers vacation packages including hotel and transfers, primarily to their Mexico and Alaska destinations. Call the vacation line 800/468-2248 for details.

America West – Passengers 62+ and younger companions get 10% discounts off the lowest fares in certain markets. Senior Saver Pack four-coupon books for travelers 62+ cost $750. Each coupon is good for one-way flight between any of 100+ America West and America West Express cities in the contiguous 48 states – a round trip is $375. (Some blackout dates may apply.)

Grandchildren 2-11 may use your coupons to travel with you. Senior Saver Pack may also include coupons for bonus frequent flier miles, discounts on America West Vacations and car rentals. Always ask about Published Fares for 65+ passengers, offered intermittently between selected cities.

Call 800/235-9292. The website may offer special discount deals: www.americawest.com (Sign up here for "Surf Go" e-mail alerts.) On June 1, 2003, America West launched service to the Caribbean resort city of Cancun.

Current lowest available round-trip fare is $378 from Phoenix, but America West Vacations is offering three-night packages to Cancun in June, available on Mon-Tues departures, for only $490 per person with accommodations at the Barcelo Club Las Perlas and free breakfast. From Salt Lake City, during June and July 2003, a three-night package at the Cancun Marina club is $519. Again, this is only on Mon-Tues departures.

Travelers 62+ pay less than half what younger passengers pay to join the America West Club and enjoy the carrier's private airport lounges. The Club number is 800/406-6501.

American Airlines – Passengers 65+ may find 10% discounts on some published fares, depending on the market. Tickets must be booked on the telephone, must be 14 days in advance and include a Saturday night stayover. Always ask if they available where you are going.

Call the Promotions Department at 800/237-7981.

Fares lower than discounted senior rates may sometimes be found on the website: www.aa.com American and American Eagle no longer offer Senior TrAAveler coupon booklets for passengers 62+. The AActiveAmerican Traveler Club for fliers 62+ has also been closed. American Trans Air (ATA) – A budget airline based in the Midwest with service to 44 cities including Las Vegas, New York, six cities in Florida San Francisco, Phoenix, Boston, Hawaii and the Caribbean. Like JetBlue, it does not require round-trip or advance purchases or Saturday night stayovers.

Senior fares for passengers 62+ are always available, but the discount may vary. Senior fares are not available online and must be booked on the phone, 800/435-9282. The website is www.ata.com

Baltia Air Lines – A new U.S. carrier, set to begin non-stop service from New York's JFK to St. Petersburg, Russia, has not yet launched. Boeing 747 aircraft are configured for three classes: First, Business and Voyager. Senior discounts will be offered. See the website for details, including the Maiden Flight, as they are announced: www.baltia.com

Canadian Airlines – Has been absorbed by Air Canada. 888/247-2262.

Continental Airlines – Travelers 65+ get 10% discounts off most domestic fares with 14-day advance purchase. The same opportunities are available on international flights. Bookings may be made online or by phone, 800/525-0280.

Continental Freedom Trips coupon books for travelers 62+ have been discontinued. Remaining coupons are good until their expiration date, but you have another year to complete travel. The website may post lower fares: www.continental.com Continental's Freedom Flight Club (800/441-1135) has been closed. Travelers 62+ may join Continental's Presidents Club for less than half the regular fee and relax in the private lounges. For Club information call 800/322-2640.

Delta Air Lines -- The Young At Heart program for fliers 62+ has been closed and the senior citizen discount coupon books have been discontinued. There are no senior discounts, period. Call 800/221-1212 for Delta. Visit their website, www.delta.com, for promotional fares. Ditto Delta Express. Call 800/325-5205 for Delta Express. Delta SkyWise Club, a membership program for passengers 62+, was phased out and closed for good in March 2001.

Where's the good news? Well, on April 14, 2003 they launched a low-cost subsidiary, Song, to link NYC/JFK with West Palm Beach. Six new routes are being added through August: JFK-Orlando (May 10), Boston-West Palm Beach (May 17), Boston-Tampa (May 24), JFK-Atlanta (June 1), Ft. Lauderdale-Las Vegas (Aug. 25). Song's lime-on-white all coach aircraft are set to compete with JetBlue's routes and amenities.

One-way fares begin at $73 and go up to $299. The cheapest tickets start 14 days before travel, increasing at seven and three days, with the highest prices for walk-up purchases. No Saturday stayovers are required and one-way travel is OK. Check the Internet at www.flysong.com or call 800/359-7664. (Don't expect to speak with a human.)

Delta Shuttle – Fliers 62+ no longer receive discounts on round-trip commutes between Boston and New York. The Flight Pack Coupons have also been discontinued. Tel: 800/221-1212; website:www.delta.com

Hawaiian Air – A passenger 60+ may get varying discounts off select fares from the mainland to Hawaii based on availability, but not on inter-island routes. Example: in May the round-trip fare from San Diego to Honolulu on a Tues-Wed-Thurs departure, was $756; the senior fare $685. The senior discount also applies to South Pacific routes. Travelers flying between April-September should ask for the H Fares, for the best deal. Hawaiian Air offers inter-island discount programs available to all travelers starting at $67 per seat. The Hawaiian Island Pass, for non-residents, has been discontinued. Call 800/367-5320 (from Honolulu 838-1555). Lower fares may be found on the website: www.hawaiianair.com

Horizon Air – Serves 42 western destinations from Alberta to Arizona. Travelers 62+ and a companion of any age qualify for a 10 percent discount on most fares, sometimes even on seasonal sales or Internet fares. Occasionally offers even better senior deals. Call 800/547-9708 or visit www.horizonair.com

JetBlue Airways – New York's low-fare airline is rapidly adding aircraft and destinations. Currently it serves JFK in New York; Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach, FL; Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, NY; Long Beach, Ontario and Oakland, CA; Burlington, VT; New Orleans, LA; Denver, CO; Salt Lake City, UT; Washington, DC; Seattle, WA and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

In May, 2003 they added Long Beach-Atlanta and Long Beach-Ft. Lauderdale. June 26 saw the launch of JFK-San Diego. An inaugural one-way fare of $104 will hold for a few weeks, $99 if booked on the Internet. There are $29 seats from Oakland to Long Beach, if one books far enough in advance. JetBlue does not offer a senior discount, they say, because their fares are already so low. The airline boasts a fleet of 55 new Airbus A320 aircraft.

All JetBlue aircraft are outfitted with roomy all-leather seats, each equipped with free LiveTV satellite television, offering up to 24 channels of DIRECTV. All seats are assigned, all travel is ticketless, all fares are one-way and a Saturday night stay is never required. For information and reservations call 800/JETBLUE (538-2583) or visit their website, www.jetblue.com

Midway Airlines – Regional North Carolina carrier no longer flies.

Midwest Airlines – (Formerly Midwest Express) Passengers 55+, but not their companions, get 10% off some published fares. No senior coupon program. Midwest flies out of Milwaukee to East and West coast points. Website may not offer senior discount so, if reserving a seat online, call an agent to confirm your booking to request the discount.

Note, the website www.midwestairlines.com may post some fares lower than those available in the Midwest agent's computer. 800/452-2022. Note: Midwest is planning to launch a low-cost subsidiary carrier in the fourth quarter of 2003. Check the website for more news.

National Airlines – The Las Vegas-based carrier folded in 2002.

Northwest Airlines – No longer offers 10% discounts to fliers 62+. The NorthBest Senior Coupons have been discontinued. Some markets may have a discount for fliers 65+. Call 800/225-2525. Lower fares may be available online at www.nwa.com

Song – See Delta Airlines

Southwest Airlines – Offers discounts to passengers 65+ that vary from city to city. Senior Fare tickets are fully refundable and changeable. The airline promises that long haul fares for travelers 65+ will not rise above $129. Fares are subject to change until ticketed. Southwest's popular Friends Fly Free program, once frequent and well-promoted, is almost dormant.

This year it has been activated only once, for an Orlando promotion. 800/435-9792. Keep an eye on Southwest's website for best available fares: www.southwest.com

Spirit Airlines -- Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, low-fare Spirit Airlines serves Chicago/O'Hare; Detroit, MI; NY/LaGuardia; Atlantic City, NJ; Los Angeles, CA; Myrtle Beach, SC; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Denver, CO; and the Florida cities of Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Orlando, West Palm Beach and Tampa.

Celebrating its 12th year, the carrier flies a fleet of modern aircraft and operates scheduled and charter service. Spirit's low fares never require an advance purchase or a minimum stay. Low one-way fares are always available. Reservations can be made online and promotional fares may be made at www.spiritair.com. Tel: 800/772-7117.

Tango – See Air Canada.

TWA – Was absorbed by American Airlines in 2002.

US Airways – Has phased out its discounts for travelers 62+ and replaced it with an AARP Savers discount program. Golden Opportunities coupon sales were discontinued in July 2002. Old coupons must be converted to tickets by July 16, 2003. Check the website for short-term deals: www.usairways.com or call 800/428-4322.

AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) members 50+ may fly USAirways for discounted, zone-based rates good for travel within the U.S., to Canada, the Caribbean and Europe. To purchase tickets for yourself and one companion, you must call at least 14 days in advance and have your AARP membership number handy. These reservations are not available online or through travel agents. A Saturday night stay is required and there are some holiday blackout dates but there is no maximum stay and you still earn mileage credits. The USAir AARP reservation line is 866/886-2277.

Supersaver fares may trump the AARP rate. Example: in May, a Charlotte-San Juan round-trip ticket for July was priced at $618.80; with the AARP discount it was only $472.80. At the same time, however, the AARP rate for a ticket to San Juan from Philadelphia was $477.30 while a SuperSaver special offered the route for only $280.30.

USA 3000 Airlines – Launched in December 2002, this low-cost carrier links Ft. Myers, on Florida's West Coast, with Chicago, Cleveland and Baltimore. One-way service begins at $59. Six Airbus A320 aircraft provide 168 roomy seats, in-flight entertainment, hot towels and snacks. The airline has received federal permits to fly three US-Mexico routes and to link Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, to seven U.S. cities. USA 3000 does not require round-trip ticket purchase or a Saturday stayover. Reservations may be made online or through their agents. Call 877/USA-3000 or visit www.USA3000airlines.com. Similar to the other no-frills airlines, these are electronic tickets only with no senior discounts.

US Airways Shuttle – Mature travelers have two ways to save on round-trip tickets between Boston, New York and Washington. AARP members and a companion qualify for special weekend rates valid all day Saturday and until 3 p.m. Sunday. Travelers 65+ may fly weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. to midnight Monday through Friday and anytime on Saturday and Sunday. Compare both these to the regular fares to see which is the best deal. Flight Pass senior discount books were discontinued on August 31, 2002. Call 800/428-4322. Special lower airfares are often available on the website: www.usairways.com

Zip – See Air Canada.





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