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The Mature Traveler

Taking Advantage of Discount Club

September 28, 1986|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

Continental has announced a Golden Travelers Club, another good air-travel discount program for those 65 and older that is competitive with similar programs of other carriers. But the ads announcing the program were, to a certain extent, slightly misleading.

The airline's ads indicated that people 65 and older get to fly to any of Continental's mainland destinations for $65 each one way when they join the Golden Travelers Club for $10 for a lifetime membership. And that is true.

What the ads don't say is that those who join the club get just two trips for $65 one way as a bonus. All subsequent travel on Continental is at a 10% discount off any regular fare, advance purchase included. Still, it is a good offer and similar to the senior discounts given by other airlines.

Not the Same Thing

The problem is, many seniors seeing the ad might think that the $65 one-way fare offer is similar to the one Continental offered during the first three months of this year, when the airline did indeed offer the $65 price as a regular fare with only some restrictions.

Be sure that you understand that the $65 fare is a one-time bonus, and even then there are restrictions. For one, you must enroll in the club by Nov. 15, and travel under the bonus $65 fares must be completed by Dec. 13.

That could cause a time problem for some senior travelers, because Continental says it takes three to four weeks to process the applications for membership once they have been received.

'Instant Enrollment'

For time-short seniors, there is an out. Continental says that you can join the Golden Travelers Club through any travel agent, who can provide "instant enrollment."

Other restrictions on the $65 fare offer say that Continental requires a seven-day advance purchase and reservation, it can only be used on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Saturday, the Thanksgiving period (Nov. 22 to 26) is blacked out, any trip must include at least one Saturday overnight at the destination and the usual kicker . . . "seats at the $65 fare on some flights are limited."

So much for the $65 bonus fares for joining the Golden Travelers Club. There are other benefits and membership details. These are:

The lifetime membership for those 65 and older is $10 only until Dec. 31. It will then be raised to $25.

Similar to senior clubs of other airlines, the Golden Traveler Club allows a senior to also buy a companion membership. This is $75 until Dec. 31, when it goes up to $100.

Togetherness Only

The club member can designate a different companion for each trip and that person can be under age 65, but the club member and companion must travel together on flights.

Also, the companion does not get the two $65 one-way bonus flights. Only the Golden Traveler member gets those.

In addition to the 10% discount on all Continental mainland flights, the Golden Traveler Club provides special rates and discounts at Thrifty and National car rental agencies, participation in Marriott Hotel's Leisure Life Program for hotel, meal and gift shop discounts, and instant membership in the airline's TravelBank, its frequent traveler awards program.

Continental says it plans further Golden Traveler discounts and benefits.

Seniors must provide valid proof of age. Continental will accept a copy of a driver's license, passport, Medicare card or birth certificate.

To best take advantage of the time remaining before the Nov. 15 enrollment deadline for the $65 bonus offer and the Dec. 13 travel cutoff, see your travel agent about "instant enrollment." For more information in general, call Continental at (800) 862-6262.

Mature travelers thinking of an Israel tour might want to investigate the 22-day Israel Leisure Vacation package offered by A.J.S. Travel Consultants in cooperation with El Al Israel Airlines.

Designed for older adults who prefer the slower pace of a vacation instead of a rigorous conventional tour, the package plan has no more than two or three days of touring a week and includes five nights in the resort town of Eilat and a day cruise on the Red Sea.

The package, available Nov. 19 through March 4 (with five departure dates), also includes 10 nights in Jerusalem, five nights in Tel Aviv and such side trips as the Galilee and Golan Heights and Masada.

Fully escorted, the trips include a choice of first-class or deluxe hotels, two kosher meals a day, 10 leisurely paced sightseeing tours, transfers on arrival and departure, social and recreational activities and the services of local hosts.

All-inclusive prices from Los Angeles range from $2,125 for first-class hotels, $2,425 using deluxe hotels. Price is per person, sharing double room. There is also an optional one-week extension at a Dead Sea spa for $288 or $485 per person, double, depending on class of hotel.

For more information, see your travel agent or write to A.J.S. Travel, 177 Beach 116th St., Rockaway Park, N.Y. 11694, or phone (800) 221-5002.

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