With more readers joining the ranks of mature travelers every day, here is a synopsis of what is being offered by the airline senior clubs to those over 60.
Do check these airlines for the destinations to which you expect to be traveling. Ask for a schedule from each airline when you phone for information about their clubs.
Check the restrictions carefully. Can you travel more than once to a specific city? That could be a deciding factor if you want to visit Aunt Matilda in Des Moines several times throughout the year.
Compare coupon books offered by the airlines with their yearly passes. Which will be the better buy for you for your anticipated needs?
Be particularly wary about restrictions imposed--time to travel, length of stay, etc. Study all the literature before you make your investment.
Do try to work through an agency that specializes in mature travel so that knowledgeable people will be able to help you with even higher discounts as you wend your way through the morass of what is being offered to senior travelers.
Silver Wings Plus, United Airlines: This is the least complicated of the clubs. Members must be 60 or older. However, only members who are 65 and older get a 10% discount on United, United Express and Lufthansa to more than 200 destinations around the world. The individual lifetime fee is $50.
A lifetime companion option is available for $150. The companion of any age may accompany the 65-or-older member and receive the same discount. Members age 60 and up are entitled to a 50% discount at participating Westin Hotels in the continental United States and Canada; 25% discount at participating Ramada Inns and Renaissance Hotels in the United States and Canada, Mexico and the South Pacific.
Discounts are also available for participating Hertz Car Rentals in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, Asia, Pacific and Western Europe. There are discounts for selected cruises and tours on Holland America Lines.
New members are enrolled in Mileage Plus with 3,000 bonus points plus 1,000 additional for joining. There are no blackout periods. United is also contributing a portion of each new membership fee to Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Assn. United's Silver Wings Plus membership totals close to 400,000. For more information, call (800) 425-0040.
Senior SAAvers Club, American Airlines: Members must be 60 or older, but air discounts apply only to members who are 65 and older. The individual lifetime fee is $25. Individual lifetime membership with a companion option is $100. The companion may be any age and accompany the member on a trip for an equal discount.
A 10% discount applies to all fares, which includes the lowest promotion fares as well as business and first-class. (Certain Caribbean fares are excluded.) Members are eligible for discounts at Sheraton, TraveLodge/Viscount, Aston, Inter-Continental, Stouffer's and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts as well as Admiral Club dues.
Members are automatically enrolled in American's AAdvantage Club, which makes them eligible for Frequent Flier bonus miles. For information, write to Senior SAAvers Club, P.O. Box 650060, Dallas, Tex. 75265-9990, or phone toll-free (800) 433-7300.
Golden Travelers Club, Continental Airlines: Members must be 65 or older. Individual lifetime membership is $25. An individual lifetime membership with a companion option is $100. The companion may be any age but must accompany the member on the same itinerary to receive the 10% membership discount off any regular fare, advance purchase included.
One (note, only one) round-trip flight on Continental is available to members for $130. Members receive a 2,500-mile Frequent Flier enrollment bonus for Continental's Travel Bank. Some restrictions apply to discount travel. For information phone toll-free (800) 862-6262.
Get Up and Go Passport, Eastern Airlines: Members must be 62 or older. A "passport" for $1,299 is issued that contains coupons for flights. An extension to the Caribbean is available for $200. A companion of any age may also travel with the 62-or-older member for the same prices.
Members may travel every week but must stay over a Saturday. Return reservations may be made 14 days in advance. Members may only travel from noon Mondays to noon Thursdays and all day Saturdays. Members are eligible for 50% discounts at Howard Johnson's, Holiday Inns, Hilton, Vista International, Omni and Marriott.
A discount also applies for General Rent A Car. In Canada a 40% discount is available for motor-home rental. For more information phone toll-free (800) 327-8376.
Trans World Airlines
Senior Pass, Trans World Airlines: Members must be 65 or older. Unlimited travel is available for one year for $1,399 in the continental United States. Travel to Hawaii is available for an additional $255 during peak season or $155 during off season. Only one trip to Hawaii is allowed.