Airlines eagerly offer discounts for military


Response has been so enthusiastic to offers by several U.S. airlines to slash coach fares for military personnel returning from the gulf that more airlines have followed suit.

The discounts -- which offer up to 70 percent off regular coach fares -- are available in many cases to all active-duty military personnel and their families, even if they did not serve in the gulf.

"What we're trying to do, in our own way, is to say 'thank you' to the troops," said Francis Conner, spokeswoman for Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, which is offering the discount through Sept. 30 to anyone with an active-duty military identification card.

Northwest and USAir were the first airlines to offer the discount on Feb. 28. United and Delta jumped on the bandwagon the following day, and American and Continental Airlines announced their version of military discounts last week.

Airline representatives admitted the discounts come at a time when air passenger traffic is at its lowest level in years.

"It's hard to say whether we'll make money on this. There are a lot of seats now that would go empty, otherwise," said Dave Shipley, a spokesman for USAir.

"But that's not the idea. The point here is to give a break to all these folks who were over there in the gulf and who did this wonderful thing," he added.

Even non-military personnel can benefit from one of the discounts.

Northwest Airlines is offering 25 percent off airfares to Germany for any "family or friends" who wish to visit military personnel stationed there, according to Christy Clapp, a Northwest spokeswoman.

As for who qualifies as a friend, "we'll be pretty liberal. But the person they visit has to be military," Ms. Clapp said.

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