It’s just a number . . .

But your age may be the key to travel discounts

When it comes to travel, your date of birth is more than just a personal anniversary-if you target the right discount program. In fact, the industry is TX: loaded with special fares and amenities for youngsters, college students and folks over 50. So now that you’ve got a good reason to reveal your true age, here’s a selection of travel deals that may meet your needs.

BARGAINS FOR THE BABES
“Many people don’t realize there are special kid’s fares for ages two to 11. They can range anywhere from 25% to 50% off adult full-fare tickets, particularly on international flights,” advises Tom Parsons, owner and publisher of Bestfares .com. His company, which has a private magazine and Website (www.bestfares.com) that allows subscribers to access travel deals regularly, finds that the best bargains for kids are to destinations outside the U.S. and Canada-especially to Puerto Rico, Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Asia. In the U.S., bargains are usually seasonal. “Southwest Airlines gives free airfare, hotel and skiing, usually from November through March. I expect Alaska Airlines to run a promotion where kids fly free to Disneyland from January through June. Packages may even include free passes [to the park],” says Parsons.

According to Deb Cornick, publisher-editor of Have Children Will Travel, a newsletter (havechildrenwilltravel.com or 877-699-5869), “The travel industry as a whole is offering a lot more to entice families.” She says some hotel chains offer free nights or meals for children. Also Amtrak (800-872-7245) allows adults to bring up to two children (ages two to 15) for half of the adult fare. The key to acquiring special children’s deals is to inquire about the family discount program. “A lot of times they won’t offer it to you unless you ask,” Cornick advises.

SAVINGS FOR STUDENTS
Young people can take advantage of TWA’s four-coupon Youth Travel Pak (800-221-2000) for $548. With proof of age, anyone between 14 and 24 can buy four one-way coupons or two round-trip tickets and fly for up to one year on those coupons. The plan requires a 14-day advance reservation to confirm the seat. Parsons says the coupons don’t have the same restrictions that apply to regular tickets. “And you can stand by with no notice at any time [as long as you have a confirmed ticket].”

Other carriers specifically offer discounts to college students, no matter what their age. The American Airlines’ Website (www.aa.com) features College SAAver Fares, which enable students to sign up for the carrier’s e-mail list for a link to special offers. Also, American Express, in cooperation with Continental Airlines, has the Student Privilege Program (800-582-5823 or www.ameri canexpress.com /student/continental), which provides student card holders with discount travel certificates as well as bonus frequent-flier miles. And Amtrak gives all students a 10% to 15% discount on ticket purchases.

College students will find the biggest travel bargains on international carriers. They typically offer student fares to Europe on a standby basis. If you’re under 26, you can take advantage of low-fare charter and consolidator flights that are made

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