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The Mature Traveler

British Rail Bargains Available From Age 60

February 08, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 30-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks.

BritRail Travel will lower the age limit for its Senior Citizen Pass from 65 to 60 effective April 1.

The senior pass, like the regular BritRail Pass, is good for unlimited rail travel throughout England, Scotland and Wales, but not the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland. Although regular BritRail passes are available in first and economy classes, senior passes are just first class.

Passes are valid for 8, 15 or 22 days or one month. Those 60 or older pay $180 for eight days (a $30 saving over the regular BritRail first-class pass), $270 for 15 days (a $45 saving), $340 for 22 days (a $60 saving) and $400 for one month (a $70 saving).

Are they a bargain? Consider that the regular first-class fare for a round trip from London to Edinburgh, Scotland, is $196, which is $16 more than the eight-day senior pass. So any other rail travel is on the gravy train.

Busy Rail Schedule

That can be a good deal, considering that normally 15,000 trains depart and arrive daily from more than 2,000 destinations throughout England, Scotland and Wales.

Prices quoted are in dollars. Note that the BritRail passes--seniors' included--cannot be bought in Great Britain.

More information is contained in the 30-page "Go BritRail" brochure, which also contains details on other travel bargains, such as the London Explorer Passes for unlimited travel on London's Underground (subway system) and buses, or the Scottish Highlands and Islands Travelpass by rail, bus or ferry.

In addition to information on rail-and-rental-car combinations and day-trip rail specials from London, there are 17 "Britainshrinker" day tours and overnight trips.

New among these and a treat for steam buffs is a series of day trips from London to Stratford-on-Avon and Oxford, which includes one leg of the trip hauled by a steam engine such as the "Flying Scotsman."

For more information on the BritRail senior pass and a copy of the "Go BritRail" brochure, check with your travel agent or write to: BritRail Travel, Suite 603, 800 S. Hope St., Los Angeles 90017; (213) 624-8787.

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Howard Johnson's has revamped its senior discount for the balance of the year, offering a basic 15% discount (it used to be 10%) for those 60 or older, or members of the American Assn. of Retired Persons, Sear's Mature Outlook or other national seniors clubs. Reservations are not required.

The nationwide hotel chain was bought from its parent company by Marriott Corp., which in turn kept the restaurants and a few hotel properties before selling most of the nearly 500 motor lodges and hotels to Prime Motor Inns.

Howard Johnson's also has announced a Road Rally program for seniors, offering as much as 50% off room rates at participating hotels and lodges.

Need Reservations

There's that word participating again, which usually means that the place you want to stay isn't in the program or the few rooms they had are sold out. But it's worth a shot. Just know that rooms are "subject to availability" and reservations are required.

Seniors participating in the Road Rally program get a free membership card and early Road Rally "checkpoints" for each night they stay. Points can be redeemed for travel discounts and merchandise. There is also a free sweepstakes with such prizes as weekend vacations, trips to New York or Washington, a Chevy Corvette or Cadillac Seville.

For Road Rally information phone (800) 634-3464.

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For the third time, Southwest Airlines has brought back its senior fares for travelers 65 years and older, although this year it's a two-tier rate of $25 and $39 one-way to the 25 cities it serves.

The special fares are good through May 30 and only on departures Monday through Thursday, plus Saturday.

Most of the fares from Los Angeles are $39. Nearer by destinations such as Albuquerque, N.M., El Paso and Phoenix are $25.

Still, a $39 one-way fare to Chicago; Kansas City, Mo.; Nashville, Tenn.; St. Louis, and New Orleans, among others, is a bargain.

Advance purchases are not required, but reservations are. Note that some flights are "capacity controlled," therefore seats at these rates can be expected to be limited at times or not available at all.

But that's the why and how of seniors getting discounts. Seniors supposedly have the leisure time to schedule their travel for when the carriers have space.

For Southwest information phone (213) 485-1221.

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