How to Get a Bereavement Fare

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Officially, bereavement fares can be as difficult to find these days as no-fee bags. Most airlines won’t promote the fact that some may give you a financial break on airfare if you have close relative who has recently died. This quick guide will help you find and evaluate these emergency discounts.

Compare all fares first

Before hunting for a bereavement fare, first visit a good airfare search site to find the best deal for regular economy tickets. Here’s why: The price of some airline bereavement fares can actually cost more than a standard economy fare on another airline. For example, Delta’s website states that travelers are welcome to call for bereavement fare prices, but they should also search prices on Delta.com. So the steps are, 1.) compare fares on a multi-airline search site and then, 2.) call for an airline quote. That way, when the airline gives you its price, you’ll know instantly where to go for the best deal.

Call the airlines directly

Some airlines, like American, state on its website that it does not offer “emergency or bereavement fares” yet a rep from the airline told us told us if a traveler’s bereavement/last-minute emergency situation involved the need to change a flight, American might waive its expensive change fee. Still other airlines like JetBlue make no mention whatsoever about bereavement fares. Yet a JetBlue rep told me over the phone that bereavement fares generally are granted to immediate family members. Always call and speak to a representative, explain your situation and ask if they can help you. 

Who is eligible for bereavement fares

Airlines that offer bereavement fares such as Alaska Airlines only offer them to immediate family members, and are valid in the event of a death, period. Others, such as Delta, have fare options for both deaths and medical emergencies and these are available to a generous list of 20+ family members including step-children, in-laws and domestic partners. But with policies changing so rapidly, it’s always best to call the airlines reservation number and speak to someone in person. 

Documents you need to get a bereavement fare

 When you’re on the phone with the airline, have the following information handy (if possible): Name of the deceased; name and number of the funeral home; a link to an obituary (or scan of one), if available; contact information for a hospice or hospital; and anything else you can think of. Remember, the airline will let you know what they need but you’ll save time by being pro-active.

In the end, you may need nothing. About a year ago, a friend’s family had flights on a major airline to visit a sick relative, who unexpectedly died; that meant all three flights had to be moved forward for the funeral. My friend called the airline to make the flight changes and briefly mentioned the circumstances with no expectations; the airline rep then said, “Let me see what I can do” and promptly dropped all the change-fees and lowered the fares on the new tickets saving my friend nearly $1,000.  What proof did my friend need to supply? Nothing. But that won’t be true every time.

 

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