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When am I eligible for senior fares?

SmarterTravel

Dear Editor,

At what age am I eligible for senior airfare discounts: 55, 60, or 65?

Thanks,

Stephen

Dear Stephen,

A lot of readers ask that question, and the answer is that every airline sets its own age requirements for senior discounts. Several low-cost and major U.S. airlines offer senior discounts, with age requirements ranging from age 55 to 65. Dozens of international carriers also have senior fares, with eligibility usually starting at age 60 or 62.

At age 55, you can use Midwest Airline’s senior fares, which offer savings of up to 50 percent on flights with maximum stays longer than 30 days. You’re also eligible for United’s Silver Wings Plus senior program, which is similar to US Airways’ zone fare program. However, United charges a $75 fee for a two-year membership. And, in tests conducted by SmarterTravel.com, United’s senior zone fares often proved more expensive than other sale fares.

The best senior airfare savings are probably offered by Southwest, which has special senior fares for travelers ages 65 or older. These fares give you the opportunity to save on standard fares when lower sale fares are unavailable or too restricted. Fares start at $48 one-way. Other good deals for seniors ages 62 and over include America West’s [% 7071 | deal | 10-percent senior discount %] on first-class fares and Delta’s $75 one-way senior fares on shuttle flights between New York and Boston or Washington, D.C.

To learn about other senior discount on national and international carriers, read our story about senior fares.

While senior fares can offer savings in certain situations, it’s important to remember that they are not always the lowest fares available. In many cases, you can find cheaper sale fares if you book early. Because of the rules that apply to senior fares, these tickets tend to be most useful for last-minute or long-term travel. The key to finding the lowest fare for your trip is flexibility and comparison shopping.

If you have a question about senior travel, please e-mail us and include your first name and where you’re from. Because of the volume of e-mail we receive, we can’t guarantee a response to each question.

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