'Super' Deals for Children Escalate Fare Wars

Times Staff Writer

The air fare wars continued Friday with major airlines competing to shuttle children accompanied by adults around the country for free or at super-discounted fares on certain days.

American and TWA on Friday announced free tickets for young passengers (under 18 for American and under 17 for TWA) who fly with adults on Tuesdays and Wednesdays this summer. Half-price tickets will be available to young people on certain other days. The fares are good only between June 1 and Sept. 10, provided that tickets are bought before May 26.

Other airlines have announced variations of the fare. Continental offered a $1 fare for passengers under 18 who fly with adults on domestic routes on certain days and on certain other days, passengers flying with adults will be charged half the adult MaxiSaver fare--$358 round-trip from Los Angeles to New York.

A family of four, with two children under 18, flying on Tuesday or Wednesday would, therefore, pay $718 for round-trip tickets to New York from Los Angeles. Some consumers complained Friday, however, that it was difficult to get the seats because of the limited days that they are available.

Meanwhile, USAir matched new discounted fares announced Thursday by American Airlines for certain California routes, which take effect Monday. USAir put into effect immediately a $98 round-trip, seven-day advance purchase fare for flights from Los Angeles International, Burbank and Orange County to Oakland, San Francisco or San Jose; and from Long Beach to San Francisco. The carrier also implemented a $118, one-day advance purchase fare and an unrestricted $198 round-trip fare for those routes.

Trying to Match Southwest Fares

American said Friday that it erred in announcing a $58 round-trip, 21-day, advance purchase fare from Orange County to San Jose. That fare applies to San Diego to San Jose; Oakland to Ontario, and Ontario to San Francisco or San Jose.

In an attempt to match fares first introduced by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines, USAir also began charging passengers--willing to buy tickets 21 days in advance--$58 for round-trip flights from Ontario Airport in San Bernardino County to San Francisco and from San Diego to San Jose. It also is offering a $68 round-trip, seven-day advance purchase fare and an $88 round-trip, one-day advance purchase fare for flights on those routes.

Southwest, a feisty, 18-year-old regional carrier that serves only 30 cities across the nation, said the other airlines are not really matching its fares. "Southwest's introduction of a $49 one-way, totally unrestricted fare from Ontario or San Diego to Oakland have been matched by other carriers, but only on a limited-seat basis. Southwest's $49 one-way applies to every seat, every flight, every day," Southwest said in a statement.

Southwest, which expanded into California in the early 1980s and most recently into Oakland and Ontario, claimed to be the "policeman of low fares" because other carriers slash their rates when Southwest moves into a new market.

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