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The Mature Traveler

Catching Up on Clubs, Coupons and Discounts

November 01, 1987|BILL HUGHES | Hughes is a 25-year veteran travel writer living in Sherman Oaks

With new eligible readers joining the ranks of mature travelers every day, this column will begin an updated rundown of what is available in discounted air fares by means of annual airline passes, membership clubs, flight coupons and straight discounts.

In the latter category, 10 airlines offer mature travelers discounts with no requirement to join a club.

Air Canada offers discounts of up to 55% to travelers 65 and over. However, these discounts may only be applied to full-fare coach and economy.

Be aware that on some routes, promotional fares offered by the airline to travelers of any age may have more restrictions and even penalties, but may be lower than the senior discount.

Los Angeles to Toronto

For instance: Air Canada's regular coach fare from Los Angeles to Toronto is $729.21. The senior discount fare is $315.57 and requires a 14-day advance ticket purchase, a minimum stay over one Saturday, a maximum stay of 180 days and is applicable during the low season, which is now through Dec. 16.

Contrast the senior fare and restrictions with that of the 30-day advance-purchase ticket of Los Angeles-Toronto, available to passengers of any age for $291.81. Restrictions in addition to a 30-day advance purchase include a minimum stay over one Saturday, a maximum visit of 30 days and travel during the low season, now through Dec. 26.

But this is a non-refundable ticket and no changes can be made. Additionally, all seats are subject to availability, which means that reservations far enough in advance are recommended. Phone Air Canada at (800) 422-6232.

In almost all cases, when working through a travel agent or directly through the airlines, it is strongly recommended that you identify yourself as a mature traveler and be sure to state that you want the lowest fare available, which, as you can see by the above example, may not always be the senior discount.

Inter-Island Discounts

Aloha and Hawaiian Airlines sell tickets to travelers 65 and over for inter-island travel for $39.95 each way, which is $6 less than the comparable fare for regular passengers. Any identification that shows the mature traveler's birth date is accepted. The phone for Aloha is (800) 367-5250; Hawaiian Airlines is (800) 367-5320.

Braniff offers a senior discount of 15% from any of its published fares, discounted or full, to travelers age 65 and over. It also permits a companion of any age to buy tickets at the same senior discount if he or she accompanies the mature traveler on the same itinerary. Braniff: (800) 272-6433.

Alaska Airlines features discounts to travelers who are age 60 and over that are based on full-fare coach and apply to travel within Alaska or between Anchorage and the cities the airline serves in other states. Phone (800) 426-0333.

Mexicana provides a 20% discount to travelers who are 65 and older during May, June, September, October and November, and 10% during the remaining months. A fare at the same discount is offered for any age companion who accompanies the mature traveler on the same itinerary. Mexicana Airlines: (213) 646-9500.

PSA has chalked up a 10% discount to travelers 65 and older on most adult fares as well as the lowest available promotional fares (military and group fares excluded). It also provides the same discounted fare for a companion who may be any age and who accompanies the mature traveler on the trip. Phone (818) 841-3800.

No Friday Travel

Southwest offers the mature traveler age 65 and over fares that range from $19 to $79 one way that are valid for travel from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and all day on Saturday. Reservations are required by phoning (213) 485-1221.

Both Sunworld and USAir have 10% discounts, Sunworld to those 60 and older and USAir to those 65 and over, on most adult fares, even the lowest available promotional fares (excluding military and group fares). Both offer a companion of any age the same discount provided he or she accompanies the mature traveler on his trip. Phone Sunworld at (800) 722-4111; USAir at (800) 428-4322.

Mature travelers should also be prepared to show identification to airline personnel to prove age.

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During November, Pier 39, San Francisco's waterfront specialty shopping center, presents a month of special discounts for mature travelers who will be offered selected discounts at many restaurants, stores and attractions.

The program provides a VIP Discount Packet that features a shopping spree and free beverage ticket, as well as a directory to the shops and attractions.

The Pier 39 Theater will sell a special ticket for $1.50 (regularly $3.50) for the San Francisco Experience, a multimedia show that gives a historical overview of the city.

The Blue & Gold Fleet's 75-minute Bay Cruise will offer $2 tickets (an $8 saving over the regular $10 ticket price) as a special mature traveler rate. The fully narrated tour provides a bay view of such famous landmarks as the Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, Alcatraz, Angel Island and many others.

The Pier 39 Senior Packet is available by sending a post card to Pier 39, Attention Jane Park-O'Donnell, P. O. Box 3730, San Francisco, Calif. 94119, or phone (415) 981-8030.

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