The Take Off Card is a relatively new entrant on the discount scene. It's issued as an offshoot of an Annapolis, Md.-based outfit that functions as both a retail travel agency and wholesaler. About 400 people subscribe to the program, which began late last fall.
This card works in several ways. You can book any sort of travel in advance and get a discount, including breaks on already discounted prices, through the agency rebating part of its commission back to you. This would amount, for example, to around 5% off domestic air fares and up to 40% off some international fares, according to a Take Off Card spokesman.
With cruises, the discounts can vary from 10% to 40%. The agency might hold some blocks of cabins and thus be operating from its own inventory with some cruise lines. The agency also handles all standard shipboard arrangements for members.
Card holders can also, if they choose, make their own bookings and ask the agency to take care of the ticketing. The discount would remain the same in either case, the card spokesman said. As the agency can more easily check what fares are through its computer systems, this is the better option. But in some cases travelers want to fly on a specific airline. You earn the same frequent-flier bonuses when using the card.