Believe it or not, some airlines still offer senior airfare discounts for travelers who are 65 or older. I hate being referred to as a senior citizen, but if it means I can save a bunch of money, I can usually find a way to get over it.
These airfare discounts have been cut back in recent years, and they can be hard to uncover—they aren’t always that well advertised. The rules vary by carrier, as do the ages at which you qualify for the discounts.
Here’s an overview of some of the “senior” airfare discounts you can find on major carriers.
Southwest Airfare Discounts
You can get an airfare discount on all domestic travel if you’re age 65 or over. The great thing about these “senior citizen” discount tickets on Southwest is that they’re fully refundable, and you can change your dates of travel as well. You can make reservations for the senior citizen discount online as well as over the phone or with a travel agent. However, the senior citizen discounts at Southwest may not offer the lowest price available for a certain ticket, and it’s worth it to do your research.
American offers senior citizen airfare discounts to those age 65 and older as well. The discount applies only to domestic routes, and not all of them qualify. These discounts are not generally available through online reservations; to get them, you’ll need to call American Airlines’ reservation hotline at 1-800-433-7300.
This tip refers to any of the airlines mentioned in this article… Most of the time, you can’t make a reservation with a senior airfare discount or find out much information about whether a senior discount is available through online services—you’ll have to call the airline’s reservation services to find out more.
United offers discounts to those age 65-plus in a select amount of domestic markets. The discounts are generally not available online, so call 1-800-241-6522 to find out if you can get a senior discount for a particular flight.
Delta does offer senior discounts, but their program is a bit difficult to find information on. It’s not well advertised, and the lines it applies to are limited to a handful of international routes. You will need to call Delta’s reservation line; the numbers applicable to various countries can be found on the Delta Airlines Website.
Delta also operates a commuter flight service that runs quite a few times a day between New York and Boston and between New York and Washington DC. There are senior discount fares available here, but you can’t book them online; call 800-221-1212 to find out if the discount is available for the flight you want to take.
Seniors aged 60 or older can qualify for senior discounts on Air France flights within France. Unlike many senior discount tickets, these tickets aren’t refundable or changeable without a fee. Once again, you won’t be able to find this discount online, so call 1-800-237-2747 to find out more.
There are a few things to keep in mind about senior discounts with major airlines. Most of the time—although not always—these tickets are refundable and flexible, so you can change the dates without a fee. In addition, it’s not uncommon for these tickets to stay steady in terms of price rather than going up dramatically closer to the travel date. This means senior discount tickets are often the cheapest if you’re making a last-minute reservation or traveling during a high-demand season. However, some senior discount tickets have blackout dates, like airline miles.
And they’re not always the best price all the time—it’s better to do some research first, find the lowest fares on general discount travel sites and on the airline’s website, and then call to find out if the senior discount would make your ticket cheaper.
Most of the time, you can’t make a reservation with a senior discount or find out much information about whether a senior discount is available through online services—you’ll have to call the airline’s reservation services to find out more. But the discounts can be worth the extra effort, especially if you’re traveling at the last minute.