Increased age means decreased air fares

January 16, 1994|By Jerry Jackson | Jerry Jackson,Orlando Sentinel

When Loren Dunton, president of the National Center for Financial Education, travels by air, he doesn't worry about searching for the best airline ticket deal.

Mr. Dunton, 76, uses his Continental Airlines Freedom Passport for people 62 and older.

"My wife and I never could have afforded the amount of travel we have enjoyed without it," says Mr. Dunton.

Air-fare discounts for people 62 and older have been around for many years in different forms. But in the past year a number of airlines have crafted new senior discount deals or beefed up their previous plans with new options.

"The aging of baby boomers is going to create a lot of opportunities for the travel industry," says Shawn Flaherty, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Travel Data Center, in Washington.

"You'll see a lot more companies marketing separately to them and creating packages for them," Ms. Flaherty says of older travelers.

Kiwi International Airlines, for example, has launched two programs for people 62 and older. The first program offers

seniors a flat 10 percent discount on individual tickets. One traveling companion also is eligible for the discount.

The second Kiwi program, the Senior Discount Pack, is for

frequent travelers. For $672, seniors receive six one-way tickets, a savings of $50 to $250 off regular Kiwi prices depending on destinations. The flights are domestic only.

Kiwi joins American, Delta, United, USAir, Northwest, Continental, TWA, America West and other major airlines in targeting older travelers with various marketing programs.

An effort by American to simplify rates in early 1992 fell apart late in the year as a result of the discounting war that ensued. Most airlines have since adopted or re-established standing 10 percent discounts to senior citizens, with various restrictions.

But many older travelers either are unaware of the deals or fail to ask for them, says Roi Williamson, manager of Holbrook Travel in Gainesville, Fla.

"I've always instructed our agents to ask them, if they look like they qualify," Mr. Williamson says. "You really have to be tactful. Some people are offended."

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