Funeral Industry News

Guide for Finding Bereavement Airfare Discounts

October 7, 2011

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Guide for Finding Bereavement Airfare Discounts

Booking a flight in the wake of an emergency or loved one’s death is overwhelming, and oftentimes done in a haze of grief.

To assist mourning passengers, airlines for years have offered bereavement fare discounts, but more recently have phased them out. Several airlines still offer bereavement fares, also known as compassion fares, but policies and potential savings vary significantly.

Bereavement fares are typically open to immediate family members only. Passengers who qualify must provide both proof of kinship and proof of death or imminent death, oftentimes including the deceased person’s name, plus the name and phone number of a hospital, hospice or funeral home.

Although airlines’ bereavement fares are discounted, they usually apply to unrestricted, full-fare ticket prices. Discount carriers that offer low-cost fares typically don’t offer bereavement discounts. While the savings may sound like a steal compared to full-price fares, the costs can add up.

Fortunately, official bereavement fares aren’t the only choice, and the price savings can be significant. Two especially good alternatives are last-minute flight specials and package deals. While not an obvious choice, package deals with hotels and rental cars included can be a good choice, especially for passengers flying far from home.

Steps for finding affordable fares:

  • Find out if your airline has bereavement or emergency fare policies by calling or checking their websites. Do this for two or three airlines, and compare prices.
  • See online if airlines have any web-only special fares, or time-sensitive deals.
  • Check out last-minute fares, as they can sometimes be cheaper.
  • Consider package deals that include hotel and a rental car; particularly if you’re not staying with relatives and need your own transportation, packages are sometimes more economical and even cheaper than discounted bereavement flights.
Airline Details
Air Canada Applicable to all relatives, not just immediate
Discounts on unrestricted, full fares within 7 days of travel
Book at the airport or by phone: 1-800-888-247-2262
Alaska Airlines Applicable to immediate family members only
Discount good within 7 days of travel
Requires advanced booking
American Airlines Call for more details: 1-800-433-7300
Continental Airlines Applicable to all relatives, not just immediate
5-20 percent discount
For death, hospice or hospitalization
Delta Air Lines Applicable to all relatives, not just immediate
For death or imminent death
Book by phone: 1-800-221-1212
Lufthansa Applicable to immediate family members only
For outbound and return flights beginning in the US or Canada
Call for more details: 1-800-645-3880
United Airlines Applicable to all relatives, not just immediate
10 percent off published fare within 6 days of travel
For death, hospice or hospitalization
Book by phone: 1-800-UNITED-1

These options, depending on your needs, may be more suitable than bereavement fares:

  • For travel to large domestic airports, the best rates are found on comparison sites.
  • For domestic routes between smaller airports, low-cost carriers offer good deals, but last-minute fares are often cheaper.
  • For those traveling to international destinations, packages are the most economical – the airfare savings can offset the cost of a hotel.

Finding yourself suddenly needing to find a flight to due to the death of a loved one or a family emergency is never pleasant, but these tips should help save time and energy, allowing you to focus on the real reasons for your travels.