- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 14, 2002

DALLAS (AP) Four major airlines have quietly dropped their 10 percent ticket discounts for senior citizens, and American Airlines said the change would probably be permanent.
American, Delta Air Lines and Northwest Airlines all dropped the senior discounts on Friday, following a similar move by US Airways two weeks ago.
Southwest Airlines said it would not remove its senior discounts. Continental and United did not immediately return telephone calls yesterday.
Carole Grewe, a travel agent with Travel Networks in Arlington Heights, Ill., said she didn't notice the missing discount until she tried to reserve an American flight for a customer Friday night.
"They didn't even let travel agents know they were doing this," Miss Grewe said. "This is going to hurt senior citizens."
Northwest also halted the sale of discounted flight coupon books for seniors, saying it no longer wanted to allow the discounts on top of already heavily discounted fares.
The coupon books were no longer a value compared with discounted tickets, and the paperwork involved was too costly, spokesman Kurt Ebenhoch said. He said he couldn't comment on how much money Northwest could save by eliminating the promotions.
"It's consistent with our strategy of discontinuing discounts on already deeply discounted fares," he said.
Northwest will offer a new special fare for people 65 and older, but it might not always be the lowest fare available, Mr. Ebenhoch said.
Delta also introduced a new senior fare, requiring a two-week advance purchase and a Saturday night stay, spokeswoman Wanda Rodwell said yesterday. She said she didn't know why the senior discount had been eliminated.
One Delta reservation agent, when asked why the discount had been discontinued, said jokingly: "We're not making money, that's why."
US Airways still offers a discount to seniors if they buy multiple tickets in a booklet, spokesman David Castelveter said yesterday.
"What we found was that the vast majority of seniors are traveling with plenty of advance notice, and the best fares they could get were through the AARP or the booklets," he said.
American became the fourth major airline to drop the discount late Friday. Spokesman Dale Morris said yesterday that American was matching the other airlines. He said he expected the move would be permanent.


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