Southwest Airlines will retire senior discounts, adding to the cost of many flights


By KYLE ARNOLD | The Dallas Morning News | Published: October 11, 2019

DALLAS (Tribune News Service) — Southwest Airlines will eliminate discounted airfares for seniors in the coming months, adding hundreds of dollars in costs to many flights.

Southwest Airlines’ senior travel webpage says the Dallas-based carrier will eliminate the discount for those 65 and older as of Dec. 11.

The senior discount allowed travelers 65 and older to receive a fully refundable ticket at a fraction of the price of its anytime fee. For example, a flight from Dallas Love Field to Los Angeles International in mid-November costs $513 and a senior-discounted ticket runs $320.

The company still offers its “Wanna Get Away” price point for cheaper, but those tickets can only be refunded for future credit.

“After careful evaluation of the overall fare product, we’ve made the decision to sunset the senior fare option,” Southwest spokesman Don Landson said in a statement. “Many of the same benefits that come with the senior fare product are just as easily achieved with Wanna Get Away fares, including everyday low fares and reusable funds should a customer cancel their trip.”

Compared to other major airlines, Southwest offered the most generous and easily accessible senior discount, selling the tickets through the website at southwest.com when buying regular tickets.

American Airlines and Delta offer senior discounts too, but they can only be accessed by calling the company. American’s senior discounts are only available on certain flights in certain markets, according to its website.

United offers senior discounts through its website, but only on select routes.

Southwest still offers discounts for infants and children 11 and under, but those tickets must be purchased over the phone. It also offers fare discounts over the phone for members of the military, their families and government employees.

Southwest will allow passengers to access the senior discounts through Dec. 11 on flights through April 13, the extent of the company’s released schedule.

It has been offering senior fares since 1985, originally giving $25 tickets each way for flights between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to its website.

Southwest doubled down on the discount through the years by extending it to more days and with special sales. As recently as 1996, it sold tickets to seniors for as little as $29 each way.

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