You have to be a student to take advantage of student discounts on travel, right? Wrong. (And I’m not talking about using that four-year-old student I.D. left over from grad school.) This week the NYT reports how various student sites like STA Travel and Student Universe are aiming to up their revenue by expanding their customer base and courting the oh-so-old over-25 crowd.
How do they get these deals? Same way the dreaded tour companies do: group negotiations, with discounts upwards of 25%.
The student sites offer specially negotiated rates at discounts anywhere from 10 to 25 percent below the going market rate. For example, a search for flights in mid-March from New York to London on StudentUniverse.com turned up seats on a nonstop from $536 on Virgin Atlantic. The best rate for the same dates on Kayak.com: $573 with a stop in each direction. A similar search from Los Angeles to San Jose was $494 on StudentUniverse.com versus $527 on Kayak.com.
Also, airlines (like tobacco companies!) like to hook their customers when they’re young, offering deep discounts with the hope that when students (hopefully) get a job, they’ll want to fly the same company on business. (I had a blast in Cancun, ergo, flying American will mean I have a blast in Omaha during my sales meeting!)
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