Your age can save you money on travel

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Ed Perkins

If you’re at least 60 years old, depending on where you are, you may qualify for a senior discount on many travel services. And AARP members age 50 or over can also get in on some of the deals.

Air and train travel

Over the last two decades, seniors have lost out almost completely in scoring good airline deals. Only two serious deals are still offered:

Although Southwest’s fares for those 65 and older are higher than its lowest “Wanna Get Away” advance-purchase fares, they’re about half the price of the “Anytime” fares that are the only ones left after the cheapest disappear.

British Airways offers discounted tickets to AARP members of $65 in economy, $130 in premium economy, and $400 in business class.

Seniors can do pretty well on some train tickets:

Amtrak offers 15 percent discounts on coach tickets, system wide, to those age 62 or over, excluding most tickets on the high-speed Acela trains.

VIA Rail Canada routinely offers 10 percent system-wide discounts to people age 60 or over, in both coach and sleeper accommodations. But VIA Rail offers much bigger discounts every week on “Discount Tuesday” to travelers of any age.

Eurostar “Chunnel” trains offer varying discounts if you’re 60 or over.

BritRail, France, and several other railpasses also offer senior options.

Those 60 or over enjoy discounts on individual train tickets in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Some other European countries offer discounts up to 50 percent to holders of rail-issued senior cards.

Other countries limit senior discounts to local pensioners. And Japan does not offer senior discounts on either tickets or passes.

Public transit

Many U.S. transit agencies offer senior discounts, typically around 50 percent, to riders age 65 or over. Some accept a Medicare card as ID to buy senior tickets; others require that you first obtain an ID from the transit agency.

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia offer the best deals: Local transit and suburban rail are free at all times, and regional rail in Eastern Pennsylvania costs only $1 per ride. Just show your Medicare card.

Seniors don’t do as well outside the U.S. The big Canadian systems don’t seem to offer senior deals, nor do most of the big European and Asian transit systems.

Hotels and rental cars

Many U.S. hotels offer discounts to customers, usually 5 to 15 percent off regular rates, starting at age 50 for AARP members, and at varying ages for non-members. Any-age members of AAA and other organizations get similar discounts. But short-term promotional deals and “opaque” rates for travelers of any age often beat these modest senior discounts.

Senior hotel discounts are rare in Asia and Europe, other than some from the big worldwide chains.

One other problem: As far as I can tell, the big metasearch engines and OTAs do not find senior deals, so you have to book directly with the hotel chain’s website.

The Avis/Budget/Payless group offers AARP members reductions of 5 to 25 percent on car rentals, plus reduced prices on some ancillary services and some insurance benefits.

© 2015 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.