Trans World Airlines is a mature 56 years old this year and perhaps it's just coincidental that it's after the senior travel market in a big way with major programs, two of which are getting under way.
In addition to the VSP Senior Pass--a year's domestic air travel for $1,299, now in its third year in competition with Eastern's Get Up N Go Passport--TWA has a Senior Travel Card and a promotion called Club 60 Getaway.
Unfortunately, in making its announcement to travel agents and the media, TWA wasn't too clear about the specific ages required and many agents and writers (including this one) got the two confused.
The TWA Senior Travel Card, which gives a 10% discount off regular published fares, is for those 65 and older (not 60 as in the club). It is similar to the 10% discount programs offered by American, United, Eastern and, perhaps by the time this gets into print, other airlines as well.
Like those programs, it requires a $25 enrollment fee and also allows, for an additional $100, a companion of any age to qualify for the discount as well, as long as the two fly together. These fees are returned in the form of travel vouchers good for flights later.
For Age 60
TWA also announced its Club 60 Getaway for which age 60, not 65, is set. No big deal because this is not a discount program but a sort of membership club built around a series of 27 tours to Europe and the Middle East, plus two special cruise/tours. More on these later.
Membership in Club 60 is free as soon as you sign up for one of the tours (or $15 if you don't, which isn't likely). Membership includes a newsletter, flight bag, baggage tags, travel wallet and other items. But the tours are the heart of the program.
The tours, said TWA, are leisurely paced trips specifically designed for the mature traveler by TWA in cooperation with the European tour operator, Travelers International, A.G.
Club 60 Getaway tours are offered on two levels: First-Class and Senior Savers. The breakdown is 21 First-Class tours and six of the lower-cost Senior Savers. All feature private baths. The difference lies in the type of hotels offered and added features. Tours average about 12 departures each and run roughly from May through September.
I won't go into the various tour offerings here other than to say that a quick study found them to be well planned and competitive in scope and price with other tour programs offered for the mature market this year. You can stop in any travel agency for a free brochure and check the itineraries and prices.
Club 60 does have some additional features plus one gimmick: One person on each tour will win $500 worth of air travel on TWA. But the tour brochure and TWA is unclear just how that will happen.
On one page it says tour members will be given contest questions by the tour conductor and the winner will be chosen from the answers. On another page it says the winner will be chosen from an essay contest on why you liked the tour. I checked with TWA on this and got still a third answer; "It'll probably be just a drawing," said a spokesman. No matter, someone will win $500 worth of TWA air travel on each trip.
Other features for First-Class and Senior Saver tours include free medical and cancellation insurance, no-fee BankAmerica travelers checks, plus discounts ranging from those on passport photos to dining in European restaurants and nightclubs, shopping and sightseeing attractions.
In addition to the basic European and Middle East tours, the program includes two cruise/tours, each with just one November departure.
The first is a 30-day First-Class trip that starts with a flight from New York to Madrid, then a week's tour of Spain before embarking on a 22-day cruise that includes Casablanca and Agadir in Morocco, the Canary Islands, Dakar in Senegal, then across the Atlantic to Belem, Brazil, Devil's Island and then Tobago, Barbados, Martinique and Antigua in the Caribbean before flying back to New York. Cost, including air fare, is $2,795 per person, based on two sharing a room.
The second offering is a 28-day trip featuring a flight to Paris, then Nice and a roughly similar 22-day cruise. Price is $2,995 including air fare to Paris, and return to New York from San Juan.