Most big U.S. airlines offer coupon deals for senior citizens, and generally they are regarded as a simple and money-saving way to travel. Typically a book of four coupons, each good for a one-way trip, costs from $540 to $600.

But Consumer Reports notes in its August issue that an analysis of 4.4 million tickets shows seniors have a good chance of paying more for a flight if they use coupons than if they shop around for lower fares.The magazine looked at each airline's 100 busiest routes during a 12-month period and concluded that more than half of the 48 million passengers who flew on discounted tickets paid $250 or less for a round trip. That amount is less than what two coupons usually total.

Many airlines also offer a 10 percent discount to seniors, and Consumer Reports recommends that they or their travel agent seek out sale fares, to which they can also apply the 10 percent discount.

The magazine notes that the coupons may be a better deal if your destination is an out-of-the-way airport where competition doesn't work to stimulate discounted fares.