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 flight discounts, we’ve included these new no-frill airlines because their rates are so reasonable. Take a look at the best senior airline discounts below.
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-priced 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
Read our Tips for Senior Air Travel Discounts
Best Senior Flight Discounts: Airlines Promoting Senior Fares
Southwest Senior Fares
Offers senior discounts on flights to passengers 65+ that vary from city to city. Southwest 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
For more information on Southwest Senior Fare reservations, please read their Southwest Seniors Customer Service page.
United Airlines Senior Fares
Offers senior discounts off published fares to travelers 65+ in some limited markets.
All travel to and from the following countries are discounted up to 25% off for senior citizens.
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 a 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
Airlines that have given senior citizen flight discounts (Just don’t count on it!)
Air Canada Senior Discount
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 Discount
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.
(acquired by American Airlines)
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 a 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 Senior Fares
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 is 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
British Airways AARP Flight Discounts
British Airways doesn’t offer senior discounts directly, but regularly offers discounts to AARP members. You or your travel partner must be a member of AARP to take advantage of these offers. Bookings must be made using the AARP link on the British Airways link below.
You can currently save on round-trip transatlantic flights until January 19, 2019.
- $65* off for travel in economy
- $200* off for travel in business
You can find out more by reading their AARP member benefits page.
Canadian Airlines – Has been absorbed by Air Canada. 888-247-2262.
Continental Airlines – Merged with United Airlines
Delta Airlines Senior Discount
The Young At Heart program for fliers 62+ has been closed and the senior citizen discount coupon books have been discontinued.
Delta now provides senior discounts in certain international markets, but are not available online.
Round-trip flights to the following countries are discounted for senior citizens.
Call 800-221-1212 for Delta reservations. 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
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
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 Senior Discount
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.
(merged with Frontier 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. The website may not offer the 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.
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
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 – Merged with American Airlines
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 – See American Airlines
Zip – See Air Canada.
This top-ranked site now has over 4,000 pages of humor, nostalgia, senior advocacy and useful information for seniors 50+. Updates weekly!
The daily e-zine for everyone over 50 who feels way too young to be old.
"...the perfect mix of Andy Rooney, Dave Barry, and Garrison Keilor, combining knee-slapping humor with useful information and genuine compassion."Retired.com
"Thousands look to and trust Suddenly Senior. Other Websites pale in comparison to the real-life, intimate look into senior lives. What sets apart Suddenly Senior is its blistering honesty and its incomparable encouragement. Millions need guidance."Suzette Martinez Standring
"Best Senior Site ever on the Web! Great, up-to-date information on how seniors can save money on drugs. Wonderful nostalgia. Hard-hitting senior advocacy pieces that get read in high places. Wonderful humor. It's all at Suddenly Senior."Alexa.com