5 Strategies for Finding the Best Senior Flight Fare
Air travel presents special challenges for seniors, such as health concerns, accessibility issues and special dietary needs. However, airfare is one area where travelers over age 65 have an edge over younger travelers. Senior fares and money-saving package deals abound for canny seniors, and taking advantage of steep senior discounts is often as easy as looking for them. Before starting vacation planning, have the right strategy or great deals might slip past unnoticed.
Word of Mouth
One of the easiest ways to find discounted airfare is to ask around among friends. Most people who have found discounts on travel are willing to share their experiences and point others in the right direction to take advantage of the same carriers and travel packages they used. While some deals may no longer be valid, the experience of a friend in dealing with the same carrier or travel agent can help you find a similar deal of your own.
Check Senior Groups
Seniors in the United States are served by a number of advocacy groups, notably AARP. This group offers travel planning assistance, vacation tips and discounts through its website. The advantage of using the AARP's services is that the legwork has already been done to bring together discount programs and research specific carriers offering low-cost travel.
Another way to find discount airfare, and sometimes to find extreme discounts not available through other channels, is to call around and independently plan a trip. By making direct contact, by phone or by email, with a carrier, it may be possible to discover a senior rate program that has either not been advertised, or which has not been offered to third parties. Sometimes, it's possible to negotiate a special individual rate if the planning is done far enough in advance.
Look for Package Deals
Package deals are the most trouble-free way of finding moderate discounts on air travel. While the proffered discounts on individual elements of the trip may not be as steep as could be obtained through a direct inquiry, bundling airfare together with a hotel and a rental car usually brings down the price of all three. Travel agents who specialize in senior vacations are able to assemble package trips, and many of them are aware of special offers that can save hundreds of dollars.
Ask at the Gate
After the trip has been planned and paid for, discount-seeking seniors still have a card to play at the boarding gate itself. While it probably isn't possible to reduce the price of the ticket at the gate, it is sometimes possible to upgrade with a simple request to the counter ticket agent or supervisor. If the flight has an open space, it may be possible to upgrade to a first-class seat, without paying extra, just by asking.