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Servicemembers and their families looking to travel home during and after the holidays might be able to take advantage of special rates offered to military personnel by several U.S.-based airlines.

American Airlines announced last week that it would be extending special offers to servicemembers traveling from Europe, Japan, and Central and South America from Jan. 11 to May 31. Fares within the U.S. and flights to Mexico, the Caribbean and Puerto Rico will be discounted through July 31.

The airline’s benefits for active-duty personnel include discount fares, access to VIP lounges for personnel serving downrange and less-restrictive purchase policies.

Robin Urbanski, a spokeswoman for United Airlines, said in an e-mail that her company also was extending its discount programs for servicemembers.

Those based in Europe must call a toll-free number to use their military discount with American. Discounts vary, depending on a number of factors, including the route.

Calls made last week in Germany found a standard economy seat on an American flight from Frankfurt to Chicago, leaving on Dec. 28 and returning Jan. 12, would cost 584.36 euros. By asking for a servicemember’s discount, the price was 517.36 euros — a savings of about $96.

Both prices included a 20-euro fee charged to those booking by phone. American’s special rates aren’t available through its Web site.

Servicemembers in the States also can call toll-free there to book a variety of discounted fares both within the U.S. and to other locations. Flights from New York to Nashville, Tenn., and Dallas to Jacksonville, Fla., were listed at discounted prices of $99 each way.

Mary Clark, a spokeswoman for Continental Airlines, said servicemembers could buy tickets at discount prices online with a few clicks on the airline’s Web site.

She said prices for military members “are comparable with our lowest fares, but with fewer restrictions.”

Clark said Continental hadn’t made any recent changes to its policy.

“This is something we’ve been doing for a long time,” she said.

Details, regulations and restrictions can be found online at airline Web sites.

Kent has filled numerous roles at Stars and Stripes including: copy editor, news editor, desk editor, reporter/photographer, web editor and overseas sports editor. Based at Aviano Air Base, Italy, he’s been TDY to countries such as Afghanistan Iraq, Kosovo and Bosnia. Born in California, he’s a 1988 graduate of Humboldt State University and has been a journalist for almost 38 years.
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